If I wasn’t afraid of melting something, I’d light candles in front of my laptop to honor the recent birth of the Yahoo Style Guide’s site and book. To give a sense of how profound this effort is, consider that there hasn’t been such a resource in the history of the web. Wired had a slim, book version that held for a few years, but then there was its recant of the capped “I” in Internet and of the capital “W” for web. Its own site doesn’t comply, so the debate continues. I happen to agree that the web and the internet have now moved into common usage, so we don’t need to revere them with a capital letter, but it’s a hard habit to break. For years I argued that “Web” was short for World Wide Web, a proper noun, and so the “W” must be capped, and the Yahoo Style Guide still sees it that way. Some days I almost agree.
Do you care? If you edit web copy you sure do. I patched together a style guide for Turner Network Television during my time there, and there were many burning issues to standardize. Do you have to ® Oscar after every usage or just the first? Did the network want franchise titles to be bolded (looks better) or italicized (correct)? And again, the etnerally unsolvable question of Website, Web site, web site or website? Is there a comma before the last item in a series? I say a defiant “no”, (with comma outside quotes a la the Brits) as does AP, but Yahoo has ruled in favor of the serial comma. That’s okay, they’ve brought together great advice on writing for the web, social media platforms and smart phones. Styleguide.yahoo.com is a wealth of all kinds of useful information on digital writing, from SEO to basic HTML coding. Get links to online resources every writer and editor needs, a handy word list of frequently contentious items (like 3D) and editing 101 tips. You can even “Ask an Editor” and get your burning copy questions answered online.
The Yahoo Style Guide is not just remarkably useful, its existence is a plain relief. It’s good to know that someone has seen the need for a resource to end the chaos of digital copy and worked hard to fill it. Thank you to all those behind the style guide–a beacon of order in a sea of rogue grammar and haphazard writing practices. There is hope at last!
What’s your favorite grammar gripe, digital or otherwise?