2020 updates to the AP Stylebook


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2020 updates to the AP Stylebook

On May 21, the AP Stylebook released its annual list of updates. Although the online edition is updated throughout the year, the release of new categories that coincides with the hard copy version is eagerly anticipated by writers and editors.

At USGBC, we use AP style to make sure our content is internally consistent, as well as in keeping with current journalistic practices. I check the online guide pretty much daily on matters large and small (“How do we refer to COVID-19 accurately? And does ‘PhD’ have periods in it?”).

Here’s a breakdown of some of the recent changes and additions that I’ll be keeping an eye on:

Digital technology and security

With more than 100 new and updated entries on digital technology terms, the stylebook has an answer for just about everything, so if you weren’t sure whether to refer to virtual assistants such as Alexa with feminine pronouns, now you know. The different meanings of apps, platforms, services and sites is all explained, and you can now refer to “the cloud” in lowercase. The modifier “cyber” is considered largely out of date. View more new entries.

A new special section on digital security for journalists offers guidance on things like passwords, multi-factor authentication, VPNs, phishing and secure data storage, in a time when maintaining secure digital connections is an increasing challenge for web users.

Current medical terms

Because an enormous amount of media coverage is now in reference to the coronavirus pandemic, the updated stylebook contains a “Coronavirus Topical Guide” to help writers navigate the new terminology with accuracy. Where appropriate, we refer to this new reality in our articles, so it’s very helpful for me to know how to style references to COVID-19. (All editors are human—but I was embarrassed that I needed be reminded that “global pandemic” is redundant!)

Climate coverage

Particularly relevant to our work at USGBC is the new section on climate change terms. It differentiates global warming and climate change, adds that “climate crisis” is now an acceptable alternative term and explains that single occurrences cannot be attributed to climate change. For example:

Don’t: “The spring hurricane season was the result of climate change.”

Do: “The increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods and wildfires, is an effect of climate change.”

Read more about USGBC’s position on climate change.

Don’t have an account with the AP Stylebook? Follow the updates on Twitter with #APStyleChat.

Miss the 2019 stylebook changes? Read our recap

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