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Website, Web Page, the Web, Etc.: How to Render Evolving Terms

Katherine wrote for advice on rendering terms such as website, web page, email, and Internet. Well, I have just typed them the way I prefer to render them. But let’s see what the experts in print prefer. Then you can make your choices based on the reference manuals you follow and what looks good to you.

website/Web site

My reference books that vote for website (no capital letter, one word) are The Associated Press Stylebook 2011 (AP), The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition (Chicago), Garner’s Modern American Usage 3rd Edition (Garner), and The American Heritage College Dictionary 4th Edition (AH). Note: AH votes for the next version too.

Web site
References favoring Web site (capital W, two words) are The Gregg Reference Manual 11th Edition (Gregg), Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition (M-W), and AH.

Web page, webpage, web page

Web page: AP, Gregg, and AH vote for this form. (But AH votes twice.)

webpage: Garner and AH prefer this one-word form.

web page: Chicago votes for this rendering.

the Web, the web

the Web: AP, Garner, Gregg, AH, and M-W prefer this form.

the web: Only Chicago recommends this version.

E-mail, email, e-mail

E-mail: This term gets a vote from Garner, Gregg, and M-W, who vote yes for all three forms.

email: AP, Garner, Gregg, and M-W support this form.

e-mail: Chicago, AH, Garner, Gregg, and M-W okay this form.

Internet: All my reference books capitalize Internet.

the Net, the net

the Net: AP, Gregg, AH and M-W capitalize Net when it refers to the Internet. M-W lists both forms.

the net: Chicago recommends this version, and M-W lists it.

Given all these variations, what is a writer to do? You may choose one guide and follow it consistently. Or you may select the forms you like, as I do. But you must be sure at least one current, respected dictionary or style guide supports your choices–if you want to be correct and be able to defend your work.

I love reading and responding to your comments. However, I prefer that you not ask about additional words such as webmaster, e-zine, and intranet. Instead, invest in one or more reference guides and look them up, which is exactly what I would do!


Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

4 comments on “Website, Web Page, the Web, Etc.: How to Render Evolving Terms”

  • Yahoo! Style Guide has great word lists for technology. Its preferred usages for your examples are email, website, webpage, Net, and Internet.

    It’s one of my favorite style guides, with lots of goodies. For example, there is a great section on cutting fluff, “Shorten and Strengthen Sentences.”

  • As a British copywriter, I choose the Guardian newspaper’s style guide as my point of reference:

    It’s progressive (for example, it has rendered internet with a lower-case ‘i’ for a long time, which makes sense to me) and raises your awareness of emerging cliches (presented without an accent on the é!).

    It also challenges you to think carefully about cultural, political and social labels. Far better to mention that someone uses a wheelchair, for example (and only if relevant), than say they are ‘wheelchair-bound’ or ‘in a wheelchair’.

    Thanks for this blog, Lynn, which I find useful and enjoyable.

  • Marie, thank you for telling us about the “The Guardian” style guide. I have been wanting a British guide, so I am grateful to you.

    I poked around the guide a bit, and I liked what I read.

    Thanks very much for taking the time to share.


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