Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Matters of Style are Just That

Just because Associated Press stylebook says so, doesn't make it right for all instances. Thus the need for institutional style guides.

For example, I know in my heart all-American is the correct generic usage. I've maintained it for years. And if you pay attention, so does AP.

That doesn't keep hundreds of universities from making that mistake.

An area that AP has been woefully behind -- digital media. From citations of sources to Web site, AP doesn't work well.

Case in point: expressing a brand's email address. I am a firm believer that:

A) http:// went out with Napster.

B) www has gone the way of MySpace.

The need to add the "hypertext terminal protocol" faded when the alternative means of calling data from servers (file transfer protocol, or FTP for example) lost favor. No one has to type that into a browser anymore, nor do most people need to see those extra seven characters to understand we're talking about a website.

Even AP can get on board with that.

The vast majority of web addresses no longer need the second piece of anarchistic addressing -- the www. It was a two step process -- hey computer at IP address, look in the folder labeled "WWW" and send me the files in there via the hypertext terminal protocol.

I take it as a key indicator of web savvy, dare I say maturity, when brands know they can just say:,

Why, oh why, do so many academics fight and insist on

We have changed here to simply Many other schools have as well, and a cursory look at a recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed the majority of display ads -- most placed by universities and colleges -- did the same. There's a montage of them in the image.

Along with the savvy angle, there is a practical advertising one: can be typeset a heck of a lot bigger than In our case, we've more than cut in half the length of the address (count 'em, 11 characters before the key information, 10 characters after).

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