One of the most buzz-worthy topics from this year’s conference of the American Copy Editors Society was the announcement that the Associated Press would officially begin lowercasing the word internet as of the publication of the next issue of its stylebook.
That day is today, June 1, 2016.
The Associated Press Stylebook 2016 and Briefing on Media Law is available starting today, and its rules and guidelines officially go into effect for all those who adhere to AP style.
Of course, there’s a lot more in the new edition than just the downstyling of internet (as well as web in all cases except World Wide Web). The new edition contains almost 250 new or updated entries. The bulk of the book consists of the alphabetized, general-purpose stylebook, but you’ll also find subsections (with handy thumbtabs) containing guidelines for specific areas of journalism: broadcasting, business, fashion, food (and drink), religion, and sports. The book also contains a guide to punctuation, the aforementioned briefing on media law, a statement of news values and principles, and guidelines for social media, which start from the beginning — literally from “What does the term social media mean?”— and cover everything from choosing a name and avatar to finding and referencing user-generated content to social media ethics and digital security.
Many new entries were added, but a number of previous entries lost a bit from the previous edition. For example, nearshore waters lost its hyphen; webpage, webfeed, and voicemail each lost their space; and the AP will no longer use a hyphen to report the strength of earthquakes — San Francisco natives will now laugh at tourists’ overreaction to a 4.5 magnitude earthquake.
Here are a few other interesting changes to note:
- An entry for mistress was added with a narrowed definition that, incidentally, eliminates this word as the feminine correlative to master.
- A new entry for prostitute (may you never need it) advises us to avoid child, underage, and teenage prostitute because the terms may imply consent from minors, which they legally cannot give.
- To save some space in the print edition, some historical fashion terms that aren’t likely to change — Gibson Girl and zoot suit, for example — have been confined solely to the online edition, making room on paper for current fashion terms like Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo, and normcore.
- An expanded entry helps us separate our marijuana, cannabis, and pot from our hashish, hemp, and THC.
- Fifty electronic terms were updated or added, including emoji, emoticon, and metadata.
Of course, the AP Stylebook doesn’t change our language, nor does it dictate how we can use our language. The only people truly bound to these edicts are Associated Press journalists and editors (and I’m given to understand that, even there, one finds wiggle room).
And it’s still the AP Stylebook; die-hard Chicago Manualites will still find plenty to roll their collective eyes at. Like, for example, how email has lost its hyphen, but it’s still e-everything else: e-book, e-business, e-commerce. Or how the stylebook still lists this example as a correct way to use numerals and figures: They had four four-room houses, 10 three-room houses and 12 10-room houses.
After all, no style guide is perfect. But for every AP style call I disagree with, the AP Stylebook has saved me incalculable time and effort in other areas. And although it clashes something fierce with my baby-blue-and-orange Chicago Manual of Style, the new AP guide’s yellow-and-purple color scheme is growing on me.*
I don’t have the time or the space and you don’t have the patience for me to catalogue (ahem, that’s catalog per AP style) each of the 240+ changes to this year’s edition. If this post has served only to pique your interest, my post about AP updates from February 10 may slake your stylebook thirst.
If that isn’t enough, AP editors Tom Kent, Jerry Schwartz, David Minthorn, and Paula Froke will be answering your AP Stylebook questions on Twitter starting at 2:30 this afternoon; just follow the hashtag #APStyleChat.
And if that still isn’t enough, you may have a problem. Thankfully, the solution to that problem is now on bookstore shelves.
*Seriously, style guide designers: What’s up with the complementary colors? Should I expect the next APA manual to come out in red and green?
Full disclosure: The Associated Press media team sent me an advanced copy of the 2016 AP Stylebook specifically so that I might write about it here. While I was glad to do it, and I sincerely appreciate and will use the new book, I think it’s clear that they had no control over the direction of my coverage. And that I remain a CMoS man at heart.