AP Stylebook Updates – WikiLeaks, Bedbugs and Check-ins

Posted on: June 20th, 2011 by Steve Vittorioso | 4 Comments

It seems with every flip through the Associated Press Stylebook there are entries for virtually every topic. Major news events (WikiLeaks and bedbugs) have spawned proper punctuation, technology evolution (email and smartphone) has birthed correct convention, and everyday items and actions (Post-it and hand-washing) require appropriate style. Whenever news breaks, headlines quickly move to style as the AP Stylebook provides the guidelines for journalists and PR people alike.

Reading through the most recent style guide, writers will find some fresh additions as AP ships its spiral-bound 2011 stylebook. The more than 450-page bible for journalists and communications professionals is stocked with new entries, including a Food Guidelines section of more than 400 food names and terms.

While the food entries serve as the centerpiece to AP Stylebook Serves Up New Entries for 2011, there are also a multitude of terms writers will need to know. Following are some of the more interesting new entries (aside from food listings):

  1. email, cellphone, smartphone. All one word, lowercase.
  2. Post-it. A trademark for small pieces of paper with an adhesive strip on the back that can attach to documents.
  3. WikiLeaks. Correct style of the international organization that publishes private, and often top secret, information from anonymous sources and news leaks.
  4. check-in, check in. Use check-in as a noun and adjective: Check-in was smooth; use check in as a verb: We check in on Foursquare.
  5. checkout, check out. Use checkout as noun and adjective: Checkout was easy; use check out as a verb: We check out at 5 p.m.
  6. dwarf, midget. Dwarf is the preferred term for people with medical or genetic conditions resulting in short height. Midget is considered offensive when used to describe a person of short height.
  7. drive-thru. Use as noun and adjective: The drive-thru was busy.
  8. nonprofit. No hyphen.
  9. hand-washing. Correct style of cleansing hands.
  10. GPA. Acceptable in all references for grade point average.
  11. handheld, hand-held. Use handheld as a noun: I use my handheld for work; use hand-held as an adjective: I work on a hand-held device.
  12. bedbug. Correct style of the small insects that have infested major cities such as Boston and New York.

What are your favorite new entries, or perhaps, which ones do you despise? Regardless, be sure to stay AP stylish by reviewing Twelve Common Mistakes of AP Style.

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4 Responses

  1. Au. Carol says:

    I have a dear dear friend who definitely does not own a nonprofit who always checks out her hotel room at check-in to be certain her room has no bedbugs.

  2. At the National Pest Management Association, no body knows better than we that bed bugs have been in the news enough to warrant attention from the AP. Though we respect their decision, we will continue to use the two-word version: bed bug. While we use AP Style as our preferred communications language, it is our belief that using two separate words is entomologically correct. Through out the history of entomology, the term “bug” has had a specific taxonomic meaning and refers to members of the order Hemiptera, or “True Bugs.” Bed bugs are members of the Cimicidae family which is a sub group of Hemiptera. Entomological convention dictates that if the common name refers to a “true bug,” it is separated by a space (i.e. bed bug, house fly, honey bee). If the common name is not indicative of a “true bug” group, the space is omitted (i.e. butterfly, ladybug). Again, every where else, we will adhere to AP guide lines, but in our materials, websites and articles, bed bug will remain a two-word phrase.

  3. Paul Wiggins says:

    Some AP rulings leave the impression of arcane inconsistency.

  4. George Flynn says:

    Arcane, inconsistent — or whatever — the AP is a reliable and reasonable arbiter of style for the sake of orthography harmony within and among American English-language publications.
    - George

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