The Words They Are A’Changin’

by Monica Santi

 

It was big news at the Pivot office the other week when the Associated Press (AP) announced that the 2016 edition of its well-known style guide will require “internet” to be lowercase. In other earthshattering news, the AP also announced that “web” will be lowercase in all instances.

So what does this mean to your marketing department? Should you make an about face and start making Internet lowercase? Not necessarily.

Word usage changes over time, so it is not surprising that AP is making this adjustment to its venerated style guide. That said, before you jump ship and decide to change how Internet is treated at your company, consider this: according to an article published by the OxfordWords blog, uppercase Internet is used nearly 70% of the time in the U.S. Most of the other well-reputed style guides still call for an uppercase Internet including Chicago Manual of Style, Franklin Covey Style Guide, Microsoft Manual of Style, and the Oxford Dictionary.

What is most important is that you are consistent in your written communication. If you capitalize Internet, do so all the time. If you decide to keep it lowercase, do it all the time. And while we are on the subject, this goes for all jargon relevant to your industry as well as formatting of common information such as web address, phone numbers, dates, addresses, hours of operation, company name, product names, and so on.

The only way you can be consistent is to publish your company’s own style guide, or as I like to call it, a word usage guide. That way you can make written standards accessible to all employees. I keep word usage notes for each of my clients so that as I write and review pieces for them, I can make sure I am upholding the practices that are common to them.

For now, I will continue to capitalize Internet while I begin discussions with clients as to when and if they want to transition to lowercase internet. I have no doubt this is where we are headed. I have no problem with it. Ask me about dropping the serial comma, and that’s a whole other blog article.

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