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Want to slap AP Stylebook around?

I thought they’d never ask.

There, on Twitter, from @APStylebook: “We're still looking for ideas for the 2011 Stylebook. Post your suggestions here:”

This is [SPORTS METAPHOR ALERT!] a nice slow fat one right across the plate.

How about revising the entry on verbs, finally admitting that there is nothing terribly wrong in standard English with splitting infinitives, and certainly nothing wrong with placing an adverb between the auxiliary and the main verb? Man up, AP. You’ve fostered a superstition for years. Make good.

Maybe add some advice on the passive voice, since some people think every sentence with a form of to be is a passive construction, and few seem able to distinguish when it is appropriate. That would be useful.

How about revisiting sewage/sewerage? There’s nothing wrong with the latter term, even if some people have a puzzling difficulty in distinguishing between the pipes and the contents. You’d think the smell alone …

I asked Andy Bechtel at Chapel Hill whether his editing class would like to take on the AP, and maybe editing classes elsewhere should take up the challenge, rather than leave the matter in the hands of the grizzled peevers who usually show up for these operations.

Pick up your bats, kids. AP’s lobbing softballs.


Posted by John McIntyre at 11:11 PM | | Comments (4)


Oh. My. Word. News website error of the year? Top of WriteWell's Twitter feed...

This is the last place in the universe I'd expect to find a sports metaphor.
It's used correctly, the Major League Baseball playoffs are in progress, and it's probably clear even to readers who aren't baseball fans.
Still, I'm stunned. But amused. Nearly tickled.
Oh, and I agree about the AP.

Maybe they should add something about not putting the day of the week between the subject and the verb, as in "Apple Monday unveiled the new iPhone."

Do they have a free online version of the 2010 edition for us to go through? That would really help since those of us who really can't stand the thing haven't had a current copy for years -- for that reason.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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