As we mentioned earlier, Yahoo has taken on the task of producing a “style guide” for the Internet. Those of you who are already in the professional writing business know about the different writing styles out there. There is AP Style, which is based upon a book by AP called The Associated Press Stylebook. Then there is the MLA stylebook and a couple of others as well.
For those of you not in the freelance writing business, the point of all these style guides is to fill in some of the language gaps that exist between the grammar manuals, like The Chicago Manual of Style, and the dictionaries of the world. These gaps come from things like fast moving technology or unofficial concepts or terminology that don’t rate a listing in either the dictionary or grammar manual, but that still have an accepted usage or spelling.
In journalism, which the AP Stylebook is the referee of, one of the common needs comes from reporting comments or briefings coming from official government sources. For example, should a reporter write, “Brigadier General Smith,” or should a reporter write, “Brig. General Smith,” or “Brig General Smith” (no period), or just General Smith (no need to split hairs on what kind of general).? — According to the AP Style Guide, under the heading Military Titles, the correct answer is Brig. Gen. Smith. (That is abbreviating both Brigadier and General, and with periods.)
What Is Yahoo Style?
If you know what AP Style is, then the next question is, “What is Yahoo Style?”
The answer is that even with the AP Stylebook throwing in its two cents on topics like whether it is e-mail or email (e-mail) there are still plenty of online and Internet related terms that are not covered in any of the style guides. For example, do I have to use the exclamation point on the end of Yahoo!’s official corporate trademark name? If so, do I use the apostrophe ‘s’ like I just did for the possessive of Yahoo!? (What about question marks?)
Furthermore, there are those who disagree with what AP says – I use email, for example – and also those who have never seen the inside of an AP Stylebook, but who still write online.
There is now a Yahoo style website you can check out if you aren’t interested in purchasing the book, which is a good thing, because until I see a freelance writing gig job posting that says, “Must be familiar with Yahoo style,” I won’t be buying the book.