Articles about "Grammar and style"

AP has a new plugin for copyediting within web-based content management systems. (Depositphotos)

AP’s new Lingofy plugin is like a robot copy editor

Associated Press

Lingofy is a browser plugin that “checks website content for AP Stylebook’s spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style guidelines,” the Associated Press says in a press release. The for-purchase plugin also checks against Webster’s New World College Dictionary, the primary dictionary for the AP Stylebook.

Automated checkers aren’t new for AP — it introduced its StyleGuard in 2011, a plugin that checks writing done in Microsoft Word. Lingofy works for people writing directly into a CMS they access via a web browser. Users can add stylebook entries, and its dictionaries “improve over time,” the AP says. “The longer you use Lingofy, the more the system can learn about your unique writing style and the better the software gets at spotting errors and suggesting corrections.”

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NPR Headquarters

NPR will use term ‘Obamacare’ less

Maynard Institute | Associated Press
NPR standards editor Stuart Seidel asked reporters and editors to “avoid overusing ‘Obamacare’” after the Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince wrote him saying “the term can no longer be defended as neutral.”

Seidel’s memo, Prince writes, says:

“‘Obamacare’ seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular.

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Are we heading for a post-apostrophe society?

Time | Slate | The New Republic

The apostrophe — the punctuation mark, not the parenthetical form of speech directed at one person — will never die as long as copy editors and auto-correct programs value it, Katy Steinmetz argues. (Happy National Punctuation Day, Katy!) Losing the punctuation mark forever would require a “revolution in thought and relaxation among gatekeepers of the written word,” she writes.

Copyeditors are still changing donut to doughnut, after all. “Language is constantly changing, but predicting what will happen next is notoriously challenging,” [Oxford University's U.S. dictionary honcho Katherine] Martin says. “It is difficult to believe that copyeditors are going to stop distinguishing between its and it’s in the near future.”

But at this point in publishing history, throwing one’s lot in with gatekeepers seems as sound as larding your pension with media-company stocks. The American Society of News Editors’ annual surveys of copy editor jobs show there are about half as many copy-editing positions at newspapers than there were a decade ago (though that category has also included layout editors and online producers at times in the survey).

And auto-correct? I’d like to think I’d go to the trouble of inserting apostrophes while texting if it stopped popping them in for me, but I kind of doubt it.

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Pfc. Bradley Manning

AP, New York Times, NPR update style on Chelsea Manning

“The Associated Press will henceforth use Pvt. Chelsea E. Manning and female pronouns for the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, in accordance with her wishes to live as a woman,” the news cooperative said in an advisory to editors and subscribers Monday evening.

The AP had previously said it wanted more information about the statement Manning released last week. More detail in this blog post — in which the former Bradley Manning Support Network says it will rename itself the Private Manning Support Network — and an interview with Manning attorney David E. Coombs allayed whatever concerns AP had.

In that interview, Coombs told AP Manning “decided to announce that she wanted to live as a woman the day after sentencing because the prison said publicly it would not provide hormone treatment.” Manning “wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate,” Coombs said.

Also on Monday evening, New York Times editor Steve Kenny tweeted this: Read more


Journalists declare war…on ellipses


The job description of the ellipsis has changed, Matthew J.X. Malady writes. His emails, his text messages…full of three-point shots. Clay Shirky hypothesizes to him that “people are trying to use alphabets like we’re talking, and it’s … hard. So we reach for the ellipsis.”

Awl Editor Choire Sicha tells Malady he’s defeated his own overuse of ellipses, retraining himself to “send emails in complete sentences, with proper punctuation, like an adult person.”

At The Washington Post, using fewer ellipses is now an institutional imperative, judging by a July 17 memo from Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz and Multiplatform Editor Jesse Lewis. “We’ve noticed an overuse of the ellipsis recently,” they write. Read more


San Francisco Chronicle changes style on ‘illegal immigrant’

The San Francisco Chronicle changed its style on “illegal immigrant” Monday. It’s the latest of several publications to reconsider the term.

The newspaper’s new style will “essentially match” the Associated Press’ style on the term, David Steinberg, copy desk chief at the Chronicle, said in an email to Poynter.

Chronicle journalists are now advised not to refer to a person as “illegal” or as an “alien;” instead, “illegal” should only be used in describing the means by which they entered the country, and only with proper attribution. Read more


Los Angeles Times, too, moves away from ‘illegal immigrant’

Los Angeles Times

Articles in the Los Angeles Times “will no longer refer to individuals as ‘illegal immigrants’ or ‘undocumented immigrants,’ but instead will describe a person’s circumstances,” Times reader representative Deirdre Edgar writes.

New guidance to the newsroom says to “be specific whenever possible in describing an individual’s status”:

  • “Authorities said he crossed the border illegally.”
  • “She entered the country to attend college but overstayed her student visa.”
  • “He was brought here as a child by his parents, who entered the U.S. without a visa.”

The Times said in early April it would reconsider use of the term, after the Associated Press changed style on it. Read more

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Timeline shows changes to AP style

Journalism in the Americas

“Ms.” arrived in 1980. “Illegal immigrant” entered in 2004 (and left this year). The hyphen in “e-mail” left the building in March 2011.

Zach Dyer catalogs these and other changes to the AP Stylebook since 1980 in a nifty interactive timeline. The news collective’s process for changing style is “fairly democratic,” he reports after a conversation with AP Deputy Standards Editor David Minthorn:

For a more controversial term, like “illegal immigrant,” Minthorn said the organization considered feedback from its editors, some of who cover immigration, and took a vote. “It wasn’t unanimous but there was a strong majority,” he observed.

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AP changes style on ‘underway’: Copy editors react

Two days after changing its style on the term “illegal immigrant,” the Associated Press issued a Stylebook update that’s significant but in a much quieter way:

One word in all uses.

OK, it’s a big deal mostly to copy editors, many of whom have spent a good part of their professional lives jamming a space into “underway.”

Here’s the old listing:

under way Two words in virtually all uses: The project is under way. The naval maneuvers are under way.

One word only when used as an adjective before a noun in a nautical sense: an underway flotilla.

I surveyed a few copy-editing icons on whether the AP switch would occasion one at their organizations: Read more


5 ways that social media benefits writing and language

It’s easy to assume that new forms of technology have dumbed down the English language. Text messaging has reduced phrases to letters (CU L8r) and tweets have so many abbreviations and hashtags they’re barely legible.

Less obvious, though, are the ways in which social media is strengthening the English language. A South by Southwest panel, “Slap My Words Up: Language in the Digital World,” addressed this topic on Sunday. Panelists were Fast Company’s Neal Ungerleider, McKinney’s Gail Marie; Digitaria’s Kristina Eastham; and Sean Carton, director for digital communication commerce and culture at the University of Baltimore.

Here are five ways that social media is having a positive effect on writing and the English language.

Increases awareness of mistakes, helps prevent them

Instead of looking at social media sites as platforms for making mistakes, the panelists said, look at them as platforms for catching mistakes. Ungerleider said that when Fast Company readers see errors, they often point them out via social media.

“Twitter has become the arbiter of language for us,” he said. “If we have a misspelling, people will let us know.”

Having an audience, particularly a vocal one, helps. Knowing your tweet, Facebook post or Instagram caption is potentially going to reach thousands of people can be a good incentive to proofread your social media posts. The fact that tweets can spread so quickly (even if you’ve deleted them) is another good reason to proofread them.

Differentiates writers

If your audience writes sloppily on social media sites, that’s not an excuse to start doing the same. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to differentiate yourself by writing well.

You can also differentiate yourself by advancing the conversation on social networks. I was reminded of this when the panelists shared a quote by Peter Lunenfeld, a digital media critic and theorist.

“The growth of blogs, Twitter and Facebook considered in tandem with Tumblr and other social softwares that enable posting and tagging accounts creates an environment of continuous partial production.”

Journalists can turn that partial production (strings of tweets, Facebook posts, etc.) into a full production — a story, a project, an interactive — that offers the analysis and context you can’t find in a 140-character tweet.

Spotlights short writing

Social media shows us the value of short storytelling. With Vine videos, we have just six seconds to get a message across. Similarly, Twitter’s 140-character limit forces us to make every word count. The site is a constant reminder that writing short and well isn’t easy.

“Shorter is better — if you can do it well,” Marie told the SXSW crowd. “It takes some level of skill.” Audience member Claire Willett responded “that’s a biiiiiiiig if.”

There are some journalists who do an especially good job writing short on Twitter – including Xeni Jardin (@Xeni), Frank Bruni (@FrankBruni) and Joanna Smith (@SmithJoanna).

Reminds us that change is constant

The panelists said people’s concerns about digital media reflect concerns from the past. “Is technology taking us back to the future?” Marie asked. She shared a quote from new media research developer Paulien Dresscher:

“Just as Socrates was concerned that the invention of writing would make people forgetful, people today are worried about the degree to which we are permanently shaped by digital technologies.”

Language is always evolving, and technology is a healthy part of that evolution. In some ways, technology has taken us full circle.

“When we first began to write things and moved away from oral culture, it changed the way things worked,” Carton said. “Now we’re moving to a post-printed era. If you look at the characteristics of social media … it’s much more like oral culture than written culture” because it’s so conversational.

Creates new words, meanings

Sites such as Wordnik and Urban Dictionary have entries for misspelled words like “dunno,” “l8r” and “aight.” Wordnik founder and lexicographer Erin McKean has told me: “If a word is persuasive enough, and if your usage is provocative enough and feels real enough, you can make a word mean what you want it to mean.” The panelists alluded to this when sharing a breakdown of the definitions of “heyyyyy.”

Many recent neologisms have originated through social media.

“I’d say that the big keystone of success is if you can work a word into the English language based on your brand or based on your technology.” Case in point: “googled,” “friended,” “liked,” “tweeted,” “instagrammed” and “storified.”

The word “friending,” Marie said, has actually “been a transitive word since the 13th century.” We just tend to use the word “befriend” instead.

“It’s interesting to look at how the word ‘friending’ is changing the word ‘friend,’ Carton said. “On Facebook, they’re not your friends in the traditional sense; they’re your acquaintances.” He noted that he’s still waiting for someone to come up with a shorter version of “www.”

Eastham wants someone to create a word to describe a person you’re introduced to via email. For now, she’s come up with her own word: “Equaintance.” Read more