Saturday, April 17, 2010

AP Style changes on Internet terms

The Associated Press in the newest edition of its industry-standard Stylebook will be changing its style on Web site to "website," catching up with the way the rest of the world thinks and writes.

I saw several tweets* praising this move for its common sense, and have to agree. But I also saw a tweet (re-tweeting another author) advocating for making "internet" lower case as well.

That one, I must disagree with. There is only one Internet. That makes it a unique entity that deserves the status of a proper noun, and proper nouns are capitalized. In my opinion, there's not even room for debate on this one. Internet needs to be capitalized in all usages.

The same for World Wide Web as a descriptor of the largest and most commonly used part of the Internet, for that matter. It's also a unique entity and therefore a proper noun.

For anyone who cites "consistency" as the reason to maintain lower case with either of these terms, let me cite some precedents for adjectival forms being lower cased even when the nouns they draw from are proper. AP style says "congressional" goes downstyle as an adjective (e.g. congressional committee) but I would hope no one would use that as grounds for saying its OK to write "congress" just to maintain parallel capitalization.

I'm all for guarding against excessive capitalization in journalistic writing and it's time for "Web site" to go. But let's not jump overboard.

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*Note that I'm fine with "tweet" in lowercase as the noun and verb for activity on Twitter. But for the same reason as Internet I would maintain that the name of the site should be capitalized as a proper noun. As should Facebook, IMO, even though it likes to confuse things by having a logo with a lower-case "f".

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