Meet the AP’s word nerd

Washington Post
David Minthorn, 69, does the policing of punctuation and the enforcement of a consistent written style for the Associated Press — “the news wire’s word nerd, the go-to guy for settling all manner of niggling usage questions,” reports Paul Farhi.

Minthorn has also been the author of AP’s “Ask the Editor” feature, in which perplexed writers from all walks of life (and all corners of the globe) seek his counsel on such pressing matters as the placement of commas and the appropriate use of an apostrophe.

The most common “Ask the Editor” question is about the use of italics and quotation marks when citing books, movies or TV shows. Minthorn’s answer: AP puts quotes around titles (not the Bible, though) and it never uses italics. Some other Minthorn rulings: Female softball players are “basemen”; it’s “octopuses,” not “octopi”; and the proper form of “bed and breakfast” is “bed-and-breakfast.” Earlier this year, Minthorn and his colleagues announced that the AP would begin using email, instead of e-mail; Farhi notes in his story that the Washington Post still prefers e-mail. “We take this very seriously,” says the AP veteran. “We’re not a bunch of old fogies sitting around in our ivory tower. We’re alive to changes and new ideas. || Take an AP style quiz.
> Earlier: Advice and observations from the @FakeAPStylebook editors

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  • Anonymous

    I agree, thx2600. Some Scandinavian-based words have to be tossed overboard. I am being serious. Why risk discomfort with some readers? It’s unfortunate but a fact of life.

    Now — if AP would incorporate their stylebook with a spell check — well, the world would be a better place. It’s almost 2012 and AP is dragging their feet with a more interactive tool. Are you reading this, Tom Curley?

  • Anonymous

    These days, even though “nigging” is a perfectly good word (as well as “niggardly,” which a politician got in trouble for using just a few years ago), it probably shouldn’t be used for fear of being perceived as derived from a certain racial epithet.