By: Kevin Featherly

A Sample Of Internet Style Issues

Here are some examples of Internet-related style issues that have been addressed by The Associated Press for its 1999 edition of The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual. More entries are expected for the 2000 edition. Following the list is a selection of other potentially helpful usage texts.

Web style examples

bbb: bulletin board system.

browser: Software that enables personal computer users to navigate the World Wide Web and to perform various operations once they are linked with a site.

e-mail: Short form of electronic mail. Many e-
mail or Internet addresses use symbols such as the at symbol (@), or the tilde (~) that cannot be transmitted correctly in some member computing systems. When needed, spell them out and provide an explanatory editor’s note.

HTML: An acronym for hypertext markup language.

HTTP: An acronym for hypertext transport protocol.

Internet: A decentralized, worldwide network of host computers that are linked by high-speed lines. The World Wide Web is only one part of the Internet. In later references, the Net is acceptable.

portal: Starting point for computer users who go surfing the Web; a place for them to go when they search for other things.

search engine: A service that allows a user to find a Web site simply by typing in the topic.

URL: Universal Resource Locator, the computer address of a World Wide Web page.

Usenet: A worldwide system of discussion areas called newsgroups.
Web addresses should be a self-contained paragraph at the end of a story, separated from the rest by three long dashes. Internet addresses generally should be self-contained paragraphs at the end of a story. Use basic news judgment in including an Internet address; do not include it merely because it is available. If an Internet address falls at the end of a sentence, use a period.

Web site: Use as two words, with the first capitalized.
World Wide Web: In later references, the Web is acceptable.
Other style references:

?Wired Style: Principals of English Usage in the Digital Age,? by the editors of Wired magazine. This guide is gaining in popularity, but it is not one likely to resolve immediate issues of word usage. With section titles like ?Voice is Paramount,? ?Be Elite,? and ?Screw the Rules,? the book has been criticized as long on attitude and short on substance.

?Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web),? by Jakob Nielsen. Available online at The Alertbox: Current Issues in Web Usability
( Neilsen has emerged as the premier Web usability guru, and his message focuses on writing that appears on the Web. His lesson: Write short. Write very short. This short. Really.

?The New York Times Glossary of Internet Terms? (available online:
glossary.html). Not a style guide per se, but a useful list that suggests possible guidelines for Web terminology. Registration is required to access the Times site.


Kevin Featherly ( is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities of Minnesota

(c) Copyright 1999, Editor & Publisher

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