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.

In 2010 my coworker Mallary Tenore wrote about how AP's Stylebook updates provided continually updated guidance on subjects as diverse as how to pronounce Port-au-Prince and the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Recently the Stylebook's Twitter account even provided a tutorial on Cobb salads:

Related: AP changes style on ‘underway’: Copy editors react | What data & algorithms teach us about the language news orgs use

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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