Tuesday 27 September 2016

Friday Five: Important Changes in the 2013 AP Stylebook

Why It Matters by Courtney Love Gavin Frank Bauch

For 60 years the Associated Press Stylebook has been considered the “essential style guide” for journalists, writers and professionals around the world. No longer just for grammar geeks and copy aficionados, new additions to the book are hotly anticipated every year.

This week’s Friday Five explores new AP Style updates.

1. Hot Button Changes in 2013

Underway” is now one word in all uses and “Health care” is two words in all references.  This year’s book also includes the AP’s most extensive revision to numerals, now with simpler explanations, updated examples and reduced need for cross-referencing different sections in the book.  All distances will now be figures, such as 5 miles.

2. Shifting Labels

The AP has prohibited use of the phrase “illegal immigrant” or “illegal” to describe a person, citing use of the word illegal as limited to an action, not a person. The AP’s decision to stop using “illegal immigrant” is part of a larger shift away from labeling people and toward labeling behaviors. For example, the new entry on mental illness says to refer to people “diagnosed with schizophrenia” instead of “schizophrenics.”

3. Social Media Guidelines

Wondering how to credit an Instagram photo from your client’s online community? With the increase of user-generated/citizen journalism pieces, the new stylebook gives you the 411 on how to secure, authenticate, attribute and reference user-generated content for text, photo captions and video scripts. Google Hangout, retweet, flash mobs, Pinterest, Reddit, Skype and tablet, are now ‘officially’ recognized by the AP, along with others in the expanded AP Style social media section.

4. Constantly Evolving

Wondering why red carpet was inducted into the stylebook? The AP Stylebook editors will be holding a Google Hangout on June 12 to answer questions about the changes and also host a monthly Twitter chat, using the hashtag #APStyleChat.

5. AP Style Goes New School

Swag (thanks Tom Haverford!), chichi and froufrou have been given the AP’s stamp of approval, along with dumpster, the official name for a large container of trash. Other additions or clarifications to the book this year include the entries for Advent, Alaska Native, Asperger’s syndrome, disabled/handicapped, doughnut, ethnic cleansing, homicide/murder/manslaughter, moped, populist, rack/wrack, wacky and wildfires.

In addition to the more than 90 updated entries in this year’s book, the AP has also added a series of AP Style quizzes available online with automated scoring and relevant information on the new style rules.

This year’s book may not contain some of the major shifts from recent years that stopped copy editors in their tracks (see: website in 2010, email in 2011), but the removal of illegal immigrant has stirred up significant debate and has even led the New York Times to change its guidelines on the term.

What changes do you want to see the AP adopt next year?

Image credit: APstylebook.com

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