Throwing out the AP Stylebook (style book?)

I have to confess. The AP Stylebook is longer my bible. Or should that be Bible? I don’t know because I didn’t bother to look it up in the AP Stylebook. I didn’t look it up because, frankly, I don’t care that much. And neither does anyone who is reading this. So it’s really not worth the time.

Up until today, I was afraid to admit that I have become an AP style slacker. I am a graduate of a major university journalism school. I have been a reporter and editor my whole life. I spent three years working on the copy desk of a major city newspaper for god’s sake. (Or is that God’s sake?) The intricacies of the AP stylebook were engrained (ingrained?) in me. When I worked for a daily newspaper, if I didn’t memorize every single entry, you can be darned sure that I looked up anything and everything I had a question about. (Yes, I just wrote “anything and everything” even though the Stylebook (stylebook?) (style book?) would probably tell me that is redundant. And I just put a couple sentences in parentheses with parentheses inside of parentheses.)

Oh, for the most part I probably do still use AP style most of the time just out of habit and because a lot of it makes perfect sense. And good grammar is still very important. I am not yet using text message abbreviations. Even tho U probably R.

But if I’m not sure of a sticky style issue, something that could easily work either way, I usually just wing it rather than blowing the dust off the stylebook or tracking down the Web site and checking it out. Sometimes I even intentionally spite the AP style just because I want to. I refer to my self as Bill Hurley, Editor and Social Media Strategist, with an upper case E, S, M and S even through the titles appear after – not before – my name. Gasp! And I usually now abbreviate my beloved state as WI instead of Wis., like everyone else, including the US Postal Service (or is U.S. Postal Service?). Does 25 minus 22 equal 3 or does it equal three? I still don’t know, and really who cares? As long as it is one or the other and not 2. Or two.

Should I put the period before or behind the quotation marks at the end of sentence? I don’t know. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the sentence. And how I feel at the moment. And, yes, I know those were not complete sentences and that the last two sentences start with And. Not to mention that the last sentence ended with And and I probably should have put quotation marks around it. Or should I have? I really don’t know. But does it matter either way? You know what I’m saying either way, right?

Anyway, earlier today I “attended” a webinar (Webnar?) of a Ragan Communications Social Media Conference from Atlanta, when social media guru (Guru?) (expert?) (Expert?) Brian Solis said it right out loud in front of a whole lot of people – PR people nonetheless: “I threw away my AP Stylebook years ago because nobody speaks that way.” You literally could hear gasps from the audience. But he was right … the AP stylebook is becoming – or has become – somewhat of a dinosaur.

When you work for a newspaper (and fewer and fewer people do), I guess it still makes sense to use the AP style. It’s always been accepted that consistency is important. And for a newspaper it is, sort of. But as more and more people scan across the Internet (internet?) (web?) (Web?) and multitudes of social media (Social Media?) sites, there is no consistency. And there never will be. So why spend lots of time agonizing over consistent style minutia on your blog when everyone else is doing something else and it really doesn’t matter anyway whether AP wants me to finish this sentence with one of these: a colon, a dash or a hyphen.

Thank you, Brian Solis, for lessening my guilt. Because of you, I am now able to admit it too: I am and Editor and Social Media Strategist from Madison WI who is an AP style slacker.

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