Matter Chatter

Yahoo! vs. The Associated Press

The Associated Press Stylebook has been guiding word usage, punctuation and grammar for countless reporters since 1953, and while it’s not the only style guide out there, it’s certainly the most popular. AP reporters are known for their strong reporting, and the Stylebook is constantly referenced to ensure consistency and excellence in writing. But as newer forms of media evolve, is there another set of rules needed for online content creation? Yahoo! thinks so.

Yahoo! has launched The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World, whose purpose is to provide a framework for grammar, punctuation, writing and editing for the Web. Some of the article topics in the guide include, “Streamline Text for Mobile Devices,” “Be Inclusive, Write for the World,” and “Construct Clear, Compelling Copy.” It also includes a word list and an “Ask an Editor” page to help clear up questions about word usage and upcoming developments for the guide.

As Mashable points out, there are a few points on which Yahoo! and the AP disagree, including whether to hyphenate e-mail (the AP says yes), and “smart phone” or “smartphone” (one word, according to Yahoo!). The overall topic is particularly timely, as Matter recently held a training session to refresh everyone on strong writing practices. We explored common mistakes that writers make and looked at the differences between the AP Stylebook and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.

But the debate came down to two core factors that guide Matter’s writing: consistency and client preferences. Often, Matter’s clients want their teams to bend AP writing rules, and as long as we’re consistent in our deliverables, the content we generate passes their tests. For example, serial commas are a source of debate between teams. Some clients require them (X, Y, and Z) and others don’t want them (leave out the comma before “and”). For the clients that don’t have a preference, we simply use them or don’t use them throughout all our writing.

It will be interesting to see to what degree writers gravitate towards the Yahoo! guide over the AP Stylebook, if at all. What do you think will happen?