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I’m Cheating on AP Style

Let me say that another way: I’m not being entirely faithful to AP style.

If I’m editing for a client who prefers AP style or Chicago style, I’ll be consistent to the point of compulsion. But for my own personal blog posts, I find myself picking and choosing, sometimes respecting authority and sometimes not.

Take Website/Web site/website, for example. AP and Chicago both prefer “Web site.” If I’m reading between the lines correctly, AP seems to be holding fast almost out of spite. Here’s a typical answer from their Ask the Editor (ahem) Web site: “AP uses Web site as two words. We decided early on that Web site was a component or part of the World Wide Web, not a compound noun based on it.”

Chicago’s position, on the other hand, seems a teensy bit more flexible, while making things a bit murky with the whole intended-audience question. If it’s “formal writing,” they say, use “Web site,” and if it’s “informal” or “friendly” writing, “website” is acceptable.

I personally prefer website; I think that by now, people think of it and speak it as a single word. I’m also typically pro-lowercase; wiping out rampant and unnecessary capitalization is one of my causes.

Still, I cannot stop myself from writing Web site in my blog. Perhaps I sympathize with AP’s flag staking here when the troops are so obviously advancing. Yes, they’re being obstinate, but I suppose I admire their principles … except when it comes to the serial comma.

Here’s where I draw the line. (A little curvy line with a dot at the top.) I simply don’t understand why AP seems to want to grant so much power to the word “and” when just a little comma could clear up any possible ambiguity. I suspect the rule goes back to when printing presses had to set type; column spaces were fixed and the comma fell victim to character cutbacks.

So that’s why I’m not quite 100 percent faithful to AP in my blog — just in case it was keeping you up at night.


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