Web Style Guide
Style is often in the eye of the beholder. That’s surely so when it comes to the topic of whether or not to capitalize the first letter of the words web and internet, as well as assorted variations of the same; such as world wide web and net.
If you are someone who follows what’s called AP (short for Associated Press) style, you are likely having a fit over the fact that I did not capitalize any of those words. The same goes for individuals who take their lead from policies established by other members of the fourth estate (a fancy way of saying the press corps) such as The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Official Style Guide Used by the Writers and Editors of the World’s Most Authoritative Newspaper or various popular references, and I’ll use Dictionary.com for the sake of simplicity. The proper style for these folks is to go with uppercasing the first letter of terms relating to the Web and the Internet. However, if you’re across the pond in the U.K. and adhere to rules set by Guardian News and Media, it’s web and internet. As my people say, oy vey.
Meanwhile, if you go with Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age the rule is to use lowercase, because as editor Tom Long wrote back in 2004, “Why? The simple answer is there is no earthly reason to capitalize any of these words.” Many other technology/web-related publications and bloggers are lowercasers.
Now what about Wikipedia? Well, it would appear to be an “it depends” kind of thing. The entry for World Wide Web has it both ways and there’s even an entry about this very topic as pertains to the Internet.
So what should a smart communications strategist do? Well, if you work for a place that has well-established style usage rules, then it’s best to use those guidelines. You know, do as is done, when in Rome, etc.
If you are a business that has a web site, go with what you feel comfortable with—if anyone gives you a hard time just point them to whatever reference reinforces your point of view. My personal opinion is that the tide is turning toward favoring the lowercase option.
FYI: I, for one, follow the lowercase rule of keyboard. Just so you know.
- Deni Kasrel
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