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

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.

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