The venerable style guide you know and love, or maybe love to complain about, the AP Stylebook, is having a big birthday. It's turning 60, and in honor of the occasion the approximately 500-page copy manual used by news organizations, classrooms, and corporations around the country has had a revision. With the 2013 print edition, readers will get more than 90 new or updated entries, as well as broadened instructions regarding social media. The spiral-bound version is available on the AP Stylebook website now; the paperback will be released this summer.
Earlier on Wednesday AP Stylebook editors hosted a Twitter chat on AP Style. What with all the new updates and changes, it's worth noting that the more things change, the more they stay the same. One of the main points of contention on Twitter was over the Oxford comma, because of course the Oxford, or serial, comma has been a point of contention since the need to specify the serial comma. As Mignon Fogarty explained in a Grammar Girl piece in 2011, "The first style book to recommend using the serial comma came out in 1905 in England, and Strunk’s first edition of The Elements of Style, which came out a few years later in America, in 1918, also recommended the serial comma." The Chicago Manual of Style and The University of Oxford Styleguide still recommend it. Yet the AP Styleguide leaves the serial comma out, unless deemed absolutely necessary. As explained in today's AP Style Chat:
There are, of course, dissenters.
But it's only reasonable. After all, we are passionate about copy and our particular preferences for style. Never forget the Onion's bit, "4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence." It's funny because it's not exactly true. We are passionate about copy.
Still, I'd like to think the AP folks would agree that there's a certain beauty in consistency, even if it's simply the consistency of disagreement. Happy 60th, AP Styleguide!