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Author Topic: AP Style Book 2017
extrinsic
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The Associated Press Style Book 2017, Associated Press, publisher.

The very much most scintillating read ever -- not. Picked up a copy to affirm how little, if any, journalism writers and publishers today, aural-visual, print, and digital, actually follow its current style conventions and guidelines, and to study updates to the journalism style since when my last copy was woefully out of date. 600 pages, spiral bound, low $$.

An issue already noted: AP says spell out numbers one through nine, use numerals for other count numbers. Huh-uh. Nope. Spell out zero and ten count numbers also, for prose and formal composition anyway. A forensic cue-clue there, does a writer spell out count numbers ten or zero? No? Journalism trained and aligned.

Serial list comma use? Oh my! Ellipsis points, dashes, colons, semicolons, yada. Harumph.

New guidance on singular "they" usage and neuter he, his, she, her usages. New entry on "fake news." Comprehensive "Media Law" section: free speech, free press, FOIA, defamation, libel, etc.

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extrinsic
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A bane of my work arises from a casual, what? apocryphal sentiment, capricious whim, a folk belief thingy. The basis is, if a nonessential phrase contains fewer than five words, no punctuation separation needed unless clarity requires it. Circa 1990, grammar handbooks and style manuals changed the explanation from dependent or subordinate phrases or clauses or single words to "nonessential" content, further confusion of the issue.

Another matter adds yet further confusion, that is, conjunctive adverb words and phrases. For example, a sentence adverb: _Literally_, Indiana bought the silk rose and fedora hat. Comma required; "literally" is nonessential, dependent, and subordinate and an interjection use and an aside commentary.

If "literally" were placed elsewhere, comma separation is still required. Indiana bought the silk rose and fedora hat, literally. Indiana, literally, bought the silk rose and fedora hat. Indiana bought, literally, the silk rose and fedora hat.

Though "literally" has come to mean really, actually, or virtually in everyday idiomatic expression, the true denotation is of or related to a literal sense or manner, literal to mean plainspoken or plain-thought, not poetically equipped, and of a literary topic. For example: Martha Wight literally wrote the definitive book on toxic lobsters.

However, a more apt adverb might not require comma separation; that is, if the adverb necessarily modified the predicate verb. Indiana ironically bought the silk rose and fedora hat. Or Indiana actually bought the silk rose and fedora hat. Sentence start or end placement, though, requires comma separation. Ironically, Indiana bought the silk rose and fedora hat. Indiana bought the silk rose and fedora hat, actually.

I'd pored through my reference shelf and online sources for incisive guidance and rationale for the five-word folk belief and contraventions of it -- well, the other way around, the five-word belief is the contravention of punctuation separation guidance. Two of the bookshelf references cite the five-word guideline, MLA and Morrson's style guides. The rationale given purports that unnecessary punctuation clutters composition. Valid enough. Really, though, the principle instead intimates another issue of faulty syntax at least and perhaps faulty diction as well.

An example: "I thought yesterday you said you worked." Huh? I thought yesterday? Or You said yesterday? Or You worked yesterday? Ambiguous at least, if not outright confused and incomprehensible.

Apt punctuation separation: "I thought, yesterday, you said, you worked." Yeah, comma cluttered. Recast to readable and comprehensible syntax: ""I thought you said you worked yesterday." Or "You said you worked yesterday, I thought." Those latter two also test whether the comma-separated content of the second example is essential. It is.

The first two examples above illustrate a discursive and recursive expression pattern, apt signal of uncertain, perhaps confused, maybe emotional thought or speech, suited to prose situations, a stream of consciousness type. Artful ambiguity potentials notwithstood. For other writing, though, is confused, maybe cluttered, and incomprehensible.

Anyway, sought such a five-word folk belief explanation in the AP Style Book. No joy; not in there, though seemed like a journalism space-conscious composition idea. Now I want to determine where and when that insidious guidance originated. Probably a polygenesis origin developed as a "rule of thumb" on the fly and off the cuff by hypoliterate fifteenth century typesetters and job shop printers who needed a rationale for lazy habit and a workaround for limited lead type matrices to set page compositions, limited commas, to name one.

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extrinsic
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AP is a more proscriptive style manual than any other -- "no," "must," "must not," "do not," "never," etc., throughout the manual.

No italics or bold formatting, for example; do not use diacritic marks, like the acute accent mark on cliché or grave accent on vis-à-vis. Never use asterisks, underscores, or brackets or braces. Limit @, #, and & uses to brand-name and as-is proper-noun uses, like P&G Energy, @you-who, #GetSmall.

The rationale given is that teletype correspondence doesn't allow any of those. The Telnet seven-bit text code does allow any ordinary keyboard glyph and invisible control codes, like carriage return, though not italics or bold formatting, nor special ligatures. Any glyph on the 110-glyph keyboard is included in seven-bit electronic communication code that AP for a time used exclusively pre-Internet, 128 code points, one reserved, actually. Seven-bit code predates ASCII, ANSI, and UTF-8's eight-bit variants.

Anyway, a false rationale compromises validity. Good to know, though, the reason why decoration formatting and glyph character downstyling came about -- journalism couldn't or wouldn't preserve standard conventions. How about the word résumé (noun) confusion with resume (verb)? Context inference? No? Use curriculum vitae or CV instead? Or work and education history? No? A city desk editor, proofreader, or typesetter could insert the appropriate ligatures for print out.

[ April 10, 2018, 11:05 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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extrinsic
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Two items in the AP manual rile debate no end: serial list punctuation and ellipsis points format and usage.

AP prohibits a comma before a serial list's conjunction -- A, B and C, never prohibited or mandated for most other manuals' styles, A, B, and C; or another suitable conjunction word substitution for and, or, but, etc. Not to mention longer serial list phrases, of more than items' listed serial content, that is, say, an action sequence, Chicago, and etc., style, not AP: Killjoy was here, was impudent to all and sundry, and lived out the war regardless.

AP mandates that a word space precede and follow ellipsis points and the points be closed up: To be ... That is the question. Hence, the source of Microsoft Word's and Corel's WordPerfect proprietary ellipsis points glyphs, yet common use is sans the word space brackets: To be...That is the question.

Which or another applies to prose Standard Manuscript Format's monospaced typefaces? Another, anymore, due to Standard Publication Format imports a digital manuscript's mostly as-is formats; word space before, in between each point, and after: To be . . . That is the question. Prose SMF used to be To be...That is the question. No more, though.

In all, a comprehensive contrastive comparison of style manuals' differences and similarities illustrates that writers willy-nilly cherry-pick variations from the gamut out of convenient habit and from wherever or whomever a format or style item was first learned, and of little, if any, stylistic consistency.

What a delight, though, to read a narrative that, in fact, exercises aesthetic stylistic consistency, that is, predicated upon reading and comprehension ease as well as a style apropos of the narrative's rhetorical persuasion and appeal facets; third, too, covertly expresses commentary about such stylistic strictures, or absences thereof, or both. Those are few and far between.

[ April 22, 2018, 04:06 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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walexander
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Don't forget the always fun, period-ellipsis. No space, period, then spaces between three more points. When the pause falls after a full sentence. It comes up as an error in most correction software.
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extrinsic
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Noted and appreciated. AP does detail the format for and when four-point ellipsis points are necessary, as do other style manuals. AP's is Complete sentence. ... More text. If another terminal punctuation mark is part of the original cite and the three-point ellipsis points signals omitted content, then use the other terminal mark, Complete sentence? ... More text.

Grammar correction software can go yak a moon.

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