When a newspaper or magazine makes a mistake, it’s in print forever. When an online publisher makes a mistake, it’s only there until someone notices it.
No doubt one of the great benefits of the Web is how malleable it can be; if you mess up, there’s still time to fix it. But often by the time an error is corrected it’s already been seen, and depending on your site traffic that could mean 10 people or it could mean 10,000. So, sure. The option to edit is nice — but why not get it right the first time?
Whether you manage a Web site for your business with thousands of unique views daily or a small personal blog with just a few thousand a month, consistency plays an important factor in establishing credibility. Style can be your greatest unsung hero or your worst glaring nightmare: if it remains consistent, it’s never noticed. But as soon as it’s inconsistent, it becomes like a bad nursery rhyme — caps lock here, no caps lock there, hyphens, dashes, everywhere.
Because we’re part of the media — whether you consider yourself part of the social media or an online publication like a webzine — we like to swear by the journalist’s bible: the AP StyleBook. Having a hard and fast reference point like the AP StyleBook allows for no gray area. If you’ve got a question on whether to capitalize or not, how to list something or where that comma belongs, the answers are here. We recommend ponying up for the $25 online subscription to the StyleBook because it’s easy to search and often faster than flipping through the printed version.
In the meantime, we’ve pulled some notable Web-related entries from the StyleBook for you to peruse here.
dot-com An informal description of companies that do business mainly on the Internet.
e-mail Acceptable in all references for electronic mail. Many e-mail or Internet addresses use symbols such as the at symbol (@), or the tilde (~) that cannot be transmitted correctly by some computers. When needed, spell them out and provide an explanatory editor’s note.(Also e-book, e-commerce, e-business.)
Web Short form of World Wide Web, it is a service, or set of standards, that enables the publishing of multimedia documents on the Internet. The Web is not the same as the Internet, but is a subset; other applications, such as e-mail, exist on the Internet. It is generally credited as the concept of researcher Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the first practical system in 1989.
Also, Web site (an exception to Webster’s New World College Dictionary first listing), and Web page.
But webcam, webcast, webmaster.
software titles Capitalize but do not use quotation marks around such titles as WordPerfect or Windows, but use quotation marks for computer games: ”Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?“
composition titles Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, computer game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.
–Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
–Capitalize an article – the, a, an – or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.
–Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as WordPerfect or Windows.
home page Two words. The “front” page of a particular Web site.