5 updates in the 2012 AP Stylebook

The acceptance of ‘hopefully’ has sparked debate, but there are other important changes and additions to the go-to guide.


The 2012 Associated Press Stylebook has arrived, containing more than 270 new and updated entries in fashion, broadcasting, and social media that will help writers perfect their prose.

Before you thumb through the nearly 500-page news writing guide, let me offer five important updates to the revised edition:

Hopefully. At the center of debate is AP’s updated definition of “hopefully.” The news service no longer objects to using hopefully as a floating sentence adverb, as in “Hopefully, the Boston Celtics will advance to the NBA Finals,” allowing the modern usage meaning, it is hoped.

Linguists, however, argue that hopefully is one word that waters down writing. They say it’s insignificant and doesn’t strengthen script, while one critic says, “it’s a free-floating modifier that isn’t attached to the verb of the sentence, but rather describes a speaker’s attitudes.” Other floating modifiers—sadly, mercifully, thankfully, or frankly—are common in English grammar and haven’t sparked discussion.

Fashion terminology. This new chapter lists 185 entries such as A-line, back-to-school clothing, bodysuit, cowl, Saks Fifth Avenue Inc., Tiffany & Co., Velcro, and wash and wear.

Broadcast language. This new chapter includes entries such as b-roll, cut, fade, live shot, natural sound or NATS, nonlinear editing, Q-and-A, sigout, standup, voice-over or VO, and wrap up.

Expanded social media guidelines. Because of the rise in social media and AP’s stance about retweets for its employees, the guide also details its social media section. AP debuted its social media section in 2010, now expanding terminology and practical advice about how to use social media tools for reporting. Updated entries include cloud, direct message, and modified tweet.

Various entries. Word nerds of all types will be interested in new entries such as Achilles tendon, concentration camps, Godspeed, fracking, Hells Angel, Huffington Post, Nativity scene, OB-GYN, underwater, and year-round.

Writers can order the 2012 AP Stylebook online and can follow @APStylebook for real-time updates.

Steve Vittorioso is an account executive at InkHouse Media + Marketing, where this story first appeared. Follow Steve on Twitter @savittorioso.

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