Washington Post Changes Style on “Email,” “Website,” “Mic”

Washington Post Changes Style on “Email,” “Website,” “Mic”
Image by PashaIgnatov/via iStock

Big changes are coming to the Washington Post stylebook as the news organization prepares to move to its new headquarters later in December. As Post copy guru Bill Walsh writes in his chat today:

Starting Sunday, e-mail will be email. Web sites will be websites. Microphones will be mics, not mikes. Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil will be Walmart and ExxonMobil.

Similar changes have occurred at other US newsrooms over the last few years. The Associated Press, which publishes a stylebook influential in many newsrooms, dropped the hyphen in email in 2011. “We don’t let the AP push us around,” Walsh wrote in a chat in 2014. “But it’s bound to happen eventually.” Maybe even here at Washingtonian, which still uses the hyphen: “It’s not like I would never consider changing it,” says Bill O’Sullivan, our senior managing editor and keeper of the stylebook. Washingtonian has already changed style on several digital-media terms: We write website, internet, and web. Mic, O’Sullivan tells me, is unlikely to ever happen here.

The earliest mention of “E-mail” I could find in a Washington Post story occurred in John Burgess‘s August 30, 1988, article “Electronic Mail Service to Scale New Heights,” about an e-mail service on Mount Everest. That story capitalizes the “E,” which appears to have been the style until 1991. E-mail networks, the story explains, “allow people to write messages at computer keyboards and send them to other people on the network, who read them on their computer screens.”

Note: I updated this post on December 2 with information about Washingtonian‘s stylebook and inserted a couple of stylebook-mandated hyphens.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously the news editor and lead media reporter for the Poynter Institute, arts editor for the now completely vanished, and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.