Freedom of the press is all very well. However, as anyone serious about writing content fit for public consumption knows, there is some conforming to the norm. One of the key sources guiding publications and writers around the world is, of course, the Associated Press Stylebook.
The electronic version is kept current with any changes and updated regularly. The hardcopy edition is revised annually, with a new edition due for release at the end of May 2019.
Some of the most significant changes to this year’s AP Stylebook include:
Split Infinitives Are Now Acceptable
The force is now with us, and split infinitives are okay after all. An oft-quoted example of a split infinitive is Star Wars’ opening statement. Captain Kirk's attestation “To boldly go where no man has gone before” was previously an AP no-go. The split is the insertion of the word “boldly” between the infinitive “to go”. This type of construction is now acceptable to the AP to convey meaning and add clarity.
Their use is, of course, nothing new. As historical events often are, the utilization of split infinitives has been cyclical. They were okay in Old English or Anglo Saxon times, but not so much in Shakespeare's time. The arrival of prescriptivist grammar manuals in the late 16th century deemed split infinitives incorrect. This was, in large part, because these grammars were based on Latin rules.
Many writers have been gleefully splitting infinitives again for years. The AP Stylebook has just caught up with others on the infinitive frontier.
% Not Percent
How many times out of one hundred do editors correct the use of % to percent (US) or per cent (UK)? Quite often, in fact. But the AP Stylebook change for 2019 has made it simple: If you’re using numerals, you can just use the % symbol. Odds are that 99.9% of people will find that quicker, easier, and more intuitive than the writing out 99.9 per cent in full.
Do you inhale deeply at the thought of how and when to hyphenate? Let alone figuring out the use of suspensive hyphenation? Good news, you can exhale that deep breath. The 2019 AP Stylebook has expanded advice on how to hyphenate.
Suspensive hyphens cut down the number of words needed in a sentence with similar elements or multiple compound modifiers. For example, the difference in the interest you may spend between 15-, 20- or 30-year mortgages. Compared to the differences you may spend between 15-year, 20-year, or 30-year mortgages.
With hyphenation in general, the 2019 AP Stylebook has moved with the notion that less is best. Feel free to take them out of any prefixes with double-e combinations. Rework re-establish as reestablish. If you want to bring back a dedicated worker you can reemploy them rather than re-employ them.
If the meaning of previously hyphenated words is clear without the hyphen, whip it out. A third-grade teacher is still clearly a third grade teacher without the hyphen. Likewise, a chocolate chip cookie remains unambiguous without a hyphen.
The Stylebook also removes hyphens used to fill the gap between anyone who identifies with one or more cultural or ethnic origins. There is no need to hyphenate Americans of dual heritage whether African American, Hispanic American, Chinese American or Japanese American. Likewise American Indians and Native Americans. These two, however, are only to be used in general terms. When referring to individual people or groups, reference specific tribal affiliations.
The Terms Racism and Racist
The guide introduces new guidance on how to stay neutral and unbiased when it comes to reporting or writing about anything related to race. Thoughtful writing showing consideration and understanding of diversity is recommended. There is guidance on avoiding euphemisms such as “racially charged” or “racially motivated.” Only use racial identifiers when relevant.
It also takes a stand on calling out and naming racism for what it is. A new entry on racism states: “The terms racism and racist can be used in broad references or in quotations to describe the hatred of a race or assertion of the superiority of one race over others.”
The AP Style Guide and Its Impact
The Associated Press Stylebook has been in use by journalists and writers of all kinds for decades. First released to media journalists in the 1950s, it’s been available for the public to purchase since the 1970s.
The AP Stylebook isn’t just a guide to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The publication aims to help writers and editors produce accurate, neutral, and ethically written content. The overall guidance also informs writers on how to produce writing in a consistent style so that different audiences can readily digest and understand the content.
It doesn’t matter which topic you’re writing about, chances are the compilers of the AP Stylebook have considered it. The Stylebook gives in-depth guidance on how to write across social, economic, and political aspects within many topics. Want to know what legalised marijuana dispensary employees should be called? (It's budtenders).
The AP Stylebook is available in hardcopy and electronic versions for phones, computers, and tablets. If you want to go a step further, there's the StyleGuard app to check if you've applied the principles and parameters.
To help keep your text in order, check out the options for the updated 2019 AP Stylebook in hardcopy or the electronic version. Or, if you’d like to keep your eyes on the bigger picture and let others worry about hyphens, infinitives, and other niggly grammatical concerns, get in touch with us today.