Though two of the most influential style manuals (Chicago and AP) recently changed from “Web site” to “website,” they still differ in their treatment of other tech words, which won’t be a surprise to writers and editors who work with different styles.
Below I’ve compared the current recommendations for tech words from new editions of four style and usage guides.
Chicago is the new 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (published August 2010), the authoritative style guide used by most of the publishing world.
AP is the AP Stylebook Online (updated April 2010), the style manual used by most newspapers and journalists. (The New York Times uses its own idiosyncratic style.)
Yahoo! is the Yahoo! Style Guide (published July 2010), a new style guide for digital content.
Garner is the 3rd edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage (published August 2009), an excellent book that tracks recent changes in usage and language.
- All four agree on “website,” “World Wide Web,” and “the Internet.”
- All except Chicago capitalize “the Web.”
- Chicago, AP, and Garner use the hyphenated “e-mail,” but Yahoo! uses “email.”
- Yahoo! and Garner use “webpage,” Chicago uses “web page,” and AP uses “Web page.”
It may look like consensus has finally been reached on “website,” but this is not the end of “Web site,” as it is still the standard in older works like the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications (which hasn’t been updated since the 2004 3rd edition) and both Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, published in 2003) and Merriam-Webster Online. (By the way, the December 2009 Apple Publications Style Guide uses “website,” “webpage,” and “email” without the hyphen.)
What does this mean for you? If you are using an older style manual, you should probably get a more current one. Which style manual you use will depend on the kind of writing, editing, or publishing you do. Chicago will likely be your primary style manual unless you work with specialized fields or content, such as technical writing, journalism, academic writing, scientific writing, etc. If you are working for a publisher or company, use the style manual and/or “house style” they specify. (Some use a hybrid, based primarily on a particular style manual but customized for internal preferences.) If you are writing for yourself, you can do what you want, but try to be both consistent and open to change. (Though Chicago is my default style manual, I’ve been using “website” and “the web” since I began this blog two years ago. Though I’m tempted to eliminate the hyphen from “e-mail,” I’m not quite ready to do so.)
So, in light of all this, are you going to make any changes to your style or try to convince your employer to modify the house style?
For more on style manuals, see my previous posts.
Update, 8/11/10: In the comments, Delf notes that though Microsoft’s published style manual hasn’t been updated since 2004, their style guide for internal use continues to be updated, and the latest version (June 30, 2010) specifies the following:
World Wide Web
Note that all of the tech/digital style guides (Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo!) have dropped the hyphen from “email,” which I don’t think we’ll see adopted quickly by Chicago and AP.
Update 3/18/11: AP has just dropped the hyphen from “e-mail.”