AP Stylebook Finally Changes “Web site” to “website”

Although I’m not a journalist, I tend to follow the AP Stylebook when I write blog posts since it’s considered the standard for grammar and punctuation in the media world. Like most bloggers, I have gone back and forth between the spelling and capitalization of technological terms such as website, Web page, webmaster, Internet, e-mail, and the Net. Staying consistent when using these terms in a blog post, newspaper article, or magazine is important so that’s when style rules come into play. Most of these terms have already settled to a standardized form and now there is one more to add to the list, the term “website.” Today, the Associated Press (AP) formally announced at the American Copy Editors Society Conference that the term “Web site” will change to “website.” According to a tweet in AP’s Twitter stream, the change will take effect immediately in the AP Stylebook Online and will appear in the 2010 AP Stylebook print edition which will be available next month.

The style change doesn’t come as a surprise given how many people have “Asked the Editor” to change the style from “Web site” to “website.” I have always preferred “website” instead of “Web site” simply because the latter was an antiquated way of writing it. However, since the AP Stylebook used “Web site,” I thought it would be best if I followed the correct spelling and capitalization style rules.

While this change settled a lot of arguments in newsrooms across the globe as well as in the blogosphere, there are still critics out there who would like to see a change in other technological terms such as e-mail, Internet, and Web pages. At the time of this writing, the correct spelling and capitalization style rules in the AP Stylebook for a few technological terms are as follows: World Wide Web, website, Web page, webmaster, webcam, webcast, Internet, the Net, and e-mail.

When AP Stylebook editors make style changes such as “Web site” to “website,” these are not arbitrary changes. The editors are constantly fielding questions and suggestions from readers via their website, e-mail, and even Twitter which play a role in the decision making process when editors meet to finalize content for the print edition. This should help explain why AP Stylebook editors made the style change from two words to one word.

While I applaud the AP Stylebook editors for listening to reader’s input and making changes based on this input, I have to wonder why “Web page” remains two words with a capital “W.” The term “Web” is really a short form of the term “World Wide Web” so the “W” should really be capitalized. However, since the AP Stylebook changed “Web site” to “website,” they might want to consider changing the term “Web page” to “webpage” or perhaps “web page” in the AP Stylebook? They’re both derivative terms, no?

Keep in mind that these guidelines apply to those people who are using the AP Stylebook for style rules. This usually includes newspapers, magazines, tech blogs, and other areas of journalism. If you’re writing a college paper, for example, you are most likely following The Chicago Manual of Style rules. Therefore, “Web site” would be acceptable.

Nonetheless, now that the change is official, I will be using “website” from this point forward. The only other change I would like to see in the AP Stylebook is “e-mail” changed to “email.” The latter just looks much nicer, doesn’t it?

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