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"Web site" vs. "website"

Posted on Monday, June 28, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Choose your style and apply it consistently.

By Denise Gable

Norman Goldstein, AP StyleBook editor, said in May 2003, "Style, in the sense we're talking about, really means a preference (in spelling or punctuation or capitalization or usage) when there is a choice to be made. AP made the choice of 'Web site' for what we thought were very good, language-based, reasons. Others are free to use their preference -- as long as it is clear to a reader and consistent. More creative writers than I have said that 'usage will push new meanings into currency no matter how many authorities hurl themselves into the path of change.'"

It's not unusual for a new word to take some time before fitting into a standardized style. 'World Wide Web site' has changed to 'Web site' and, now, 'website' in keeping with our rapidly advancing, technology-savvy world. While the style guides and experts differed on Web site versus website, what were editors and writers using?

Best Friends, Best Friends Animal Society
Frequency: Bimonthly
Description: Best Friends magazine has the largest readership of any general-interest animal publication in the U.S. The Best Friends Animal Society is guided by a simple philosophy: kindness to animals.

Mary Girouard, senior copy editor, "We use website. I decided to go that route after querying a copyediting listserv and finding that most of the copyeditors had switched from Web site to website. I was always uncomfortable with 'Web site' because web is not a proper word and therefore shouldn't be capped. Technically, it should be 'World Wide Web site' but that's too cumbersome."

Cineaste, Cineaste Publishers, Inc.
Frequency: Quarterly
Description: Cineaste is a quarterly magazine (founded in 1967) which offers a social, political, and esthetic perspective on the cinema.

Gary Crowdus, editor-in-chief, "This term, as with many of the new technology terms, can be really problematic for editors, as it has been for us, in terms of settling on a spelling with which we try to be consistent. We had some heated arguments, believe it or not, as to whether or not it should be spelled 'web site' or 'website,' among other variations. We capitalize Internet and World Wide Web, so we finally came to an agreement on our editorial board that in future we will spell it Website. But, you will find it half a dozen other ways in other publications."

Waste & Recycling News, Crain Communications Inc.
Frequency: Biweekly
Circulation: 51,000
Description: Waste News is the only bi-weekly tabloid news publication in North America written specifically for decision-makers in the rapidly changing solid-waste and recycling service and distribution system.

Pete Fehrenbach, managing editor, "We're still stuck with the stodgy AP-recommended variant, 'Web site.' I would prefer that we lowercase it and close it up: website. It seems to me the publishing world is headed in that direction." [Note: This response was submitted several weeks before the AP announced the change to "website."]

Charleston, GulfStream Communications
Frequency: Monthly
Description: A monthly magazine for Charleston, South Carolina.

Lauren Brooks Johnson, managing editor, "We use website (lowercase, all one word). Even though Webster.com has it listed as Web site (two words, Web capped), our editorial team felt that the word Web has become so widespread among readers that it no longer necessitates the proper noun privilege of capitalization. And though it has not made it to Webster as one word yet, is surely is on its way."

Rubber & Plastics News, Crain Communications Inc.
Frequency: Biweekly
Description: International newspaper for the rubber industry.
Ed Noga, editor, "We just switched to website from Web site. We use AP style, with some of our own variances, and our chief copy editor noticed a couple of weeks ago that 'Web' was now verboten. That was fine with us -- we never liked it capitalized. As I always say (and I'm not the first editor to state this), style is never wrong or right, it just 'is,' as long as you are consistent."

Chicagoland Gardening, State by State Gardening Magazines
Frequency: Bimonthly
Description: A magazine for gardeners in the Chicago area.

Carolyn Ulrich, editor, "I do one word for website and no capitalization. I also do not capitalize internet. I regard both website and internet as common nouns, so I would no more capitalize them than I would school or church. So that's the rationale, but I probably made my initial decisions based on gut feelings and what 'looked right' to me. The rationale came later."

Mediabistro.com, WebMediaBrands Inc.
Frequency: n/a
Description: A website dedicated to anyone who creates or works with content or who is a non-creative professional working in a content/creative industry.

Chris Ariens, editorial director, "We recently switched from Web site to website. We followed the AP Stylebook lead on this when they switched earlier this year."

Experience Life, Life Time Fitness
Frequency: 10 issues/year
Description: A magazine created to empower readers to become their best, most authentic selves and to support their enjoyment of a healthy, balanced, deeply satisfying way of life.

Steve Waryan, copy chief, "Our publication style follows the American Heritage Dictionary and Chicago Manual of Style in how we treat that term. We capitalize Web and spell it as two words -- Web site. We've followed this style since we started the magazine about 10 years ago. I'm aware that the AP recently changed its treatment of the two words into one -- website. We haven't yet discussed whether we'll follow this trend or not, but I anticipate future discussions about it."

AWCI's Construction Dimensions, AWCI
Frequency: Monthly
Description: A magazine delivering the latest in technical, promotional, business, and management ideas and issues for the wall and ceiling industry.

Laura Porinchak, editor, "We follow the AP Stylebook, so we used Web site up until the other day when the AP declared it to be one lowercase word: website. Most editors I know disagree with the change simply because 'World Wide Web' is a proper noun, thus Web site is correct. But most of those same editors are darn glad they don't have to explain anymore to their coworkers why it has to be two words with Web capitalized. It seems that those of us who follow the AP were in the minority when it came to Web site."

Denise Gable is managing editor of Editors Only.

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