Ding-dong: The 2016 AP Stylebook tolls.
If you’re using a 2015 AP Stylebook, you’re a year behind, and if you’ve capitalized internet at some point today, you’ve already made an error.
So says The Associated Press in its 2016 Stylebook revisions, effective today.
The “definitive resource for journalists, and a must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals” has put a decades-long debate to rest with one seemingly simple shift:
The 2016 Stylebook includes about 250 new or updated terms, including lowercase internet and web. https://t.co/x82XygL5Yj
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) May 27, 2016
Associated Press editors made this change—and several others—known in their review of the 2016 Stylebook at the ACES conference in April.
Editors, reporters and PR pros tweeted a mixed bag of reactions to the initial announcement. Here’s a sampling:
“But the youngs don’t capitalize ‘Internet.’ “
” The youngs don’t capitalize ‘Kansas City.’ “
— Bill Walsh (@TheSlot) April 3, 2016
— Katherine Purple (@katmpurple) April 4, 2016
Failing news service AP de-capitalizes “Internet” in their irrelevant stylebook no one uses anymore. Sad! https://t.co/EWn8PvFMfJ
— Peter Feld (@peterfeld) April 4, 2016
I don’t care what the AP Style Guide says. I will never lowercase the specific network the “Internet.” There’s a very important distinction.
— Whitney Merrill (@wbm312) April 3, 2016
— Guardian style guide (@guardianstyle) April 3, 2016
“A reminder that effective Wednesday, June 1, we will begin lowercasing “internet,” as well as “web” for the shortened form of World Wide Web (which remains uppercase),” it read. “Our change complies with a change in AP style that takes effect that day.”
So far today, many Twitter users expressed their contentment with the AP’s decision. From celebratory cakes to exclamation points galore, here’s a roundup of reactions from the first day of lowercasing internet:
New @AP style changes starting today: internet and web are now lowercase. As in, I am surfing the web, also known as the internet.
— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) June 1, 2016
Today’s the day! No more capitalized Internet! AP style for emoji and kombucha! Happy Wednesday, y’all 🙌🏻 https://t.co/p0lw0vBJTl
— Samantha (@samanthajgross) June 1, 2016
Big day for AP Style followers: we no longer have to capitalize ‘internet’ and ‘web’ (!!!) https://t.co/RWXmTGW0R4
— Leah Stacy (@leahstacy) June 1, 2016
— Keagan (@keagan_kristoff) June 1, 2016
A slew of digital newsrooms—Buzzfeed, Vox, Quartz, The Verge, Gawker—chose years ago to go against the AP style grain in not obeying the formality of capitalizing the tech term.
Here’s how the head of U.S. English Dictionaries’ at Oxford University Press explained the Internet’s red tape to the New Republic in 2015:
We use “the” when we talk about the internet, and that perpetuates the usage of the uppercase. It’s the difference between an internet and the Internet. The word’s origins date back to the 1970s, when an “inter-network” was just a collection of smaller networks that communicated using the same protocols. Functionally, the internet of today is just the largest example of an internet—which, incidentally, means that the word entered our vocabulary in lowercase.
Now—as such has happened with many conventional wisdoms in the internet age—the general thinking has changed.
In response to the AP’s shift, here’s how The Verge described initially lowercasing the term:
The idea of treating internet as a proper noun came about from the beginning of internet communications. As some argue, the distinction is that the internet we know and use today is just one internet out of many possible internets. It just so happens that the internet we use is also called the internet. It’s like the Sun that we orbit and the sun of another planetary system.
The 2016 AP Stylebook includes nearly 250 new and modified entries.
Here are a few other noteworthy style changes—highlighted by Thomas Kent, the AP’s standards editor:
exponential growth : Used when something has grown by increasing amounts. For instance, a population might increase by 5 percent from 1980 to 1990, 10 percent from 1990 to 2000 and 15 percent from 2000 to 2010. Not simply a synonym for a large increase.
accident, crash : Generally acceptable for automobile and other collisions and wrecks. However, when negligence is claimed or proven, avoid accident, which can be read by some as a term exonerating the person responsible. In such cases, use crash, collision or other terms. See collide, collision.
L: The name of the Chicago train system. Not El.
mescal : Clear liquor from Mexico made from a variety of agave plants.
normcore : A fashion trend that combines “normal” and “hardcore” and is characterized by unpretentious, unisex, average dressing.
What do you think of the changes, Ragan readers? Will you adjust your “house style” to reflect the AP’s?