Archives for March 2010

What Stylebook Should Bloggers Use?

If you ever want to see writers argue loudly (and who doesn’t?), ask them which writing stylebook is the best. The opinions will be varied, the disagreements will be vocal, and the slap fights will be, well, slappy.

Nothing gets the ire of a writer up higher than someone slamming on their beloved style guide. A stylebook is really just a preference guide for how you want people to punctuate, and spell and capitalize certain words.

Bloggers often get caught in the cross-fire, because we don’t know which stylebook we should use. This is a question I’m often asked, and I always say the same thing:

Bloggers should use the Associated Press Stylebook

I like the Associated Press Stylebook (affiliate link) because it’s a book for journalists by journalists. And since bloggers are really citizen journalists, we might as well use the book the journalists use. Although it was really written for writers who work for the Associated Press, it has been adopted by every journalist except for the New York Times.

While there are no major differences between most of the stylebooks, except on some small ticky-tack stuff, like whether you should use the Oxford comma or whether or not to hyphenate certain words.

I realize there are many style guides you can choose from: MLA (Modern Language Association for English), Turabian (history), and APA (American Psychological Association; social sciences) for the academic world. The Chicago Manual of Style for book publishers, Strunk and White’s Element of Style for general writing, and The Bluebook for lawyers.

While there is the Columbia Guide to Online Style (COS), I prefer the AP Stylebook. The COS is used for citing online sources, and is a style guide for “creating documents electronically for submission for print or electronic publication,” but from what I can see, it’s used more for academic purposes, rather than the real world.