New York Times writers can now say 'email' and 'website'


The New York Times was one of the print holdouts that still hyphenated e-mail and treated Web site with more respect than is called for. (Internet remains capitalized.) Times writers can now tweet as a verb, just not too often. Atlantic Wire wrestled confirmations out of the principals that the new rules go into effect next week, and that the NYT stylebook itself may become a public document.

As the Times' controversial ruling on the pronunciation of "gif" on Tuesday showed, people really do still care about how the "newspaper of record" treats the English language. In making the changes, several editors went through the stylebook "more systematically" than it had since 1999, Times standards editor Philip Corbett explained in an email to The Atlantic Wire. "They are mostly modest updates and tweaks; nothing earth-shattering," he wrote of the updates, which will go into effect next week. The idea behind them, he explained, is to eventually release the stylebook to the public: "That's still under discussion, but I hope it will happen."

Of a bit more substance is the change to a new principle on the treatment of big monetary numbers.

In a fairly important shift, The Times will no longer describe a monetary number as a "record" or as the "largest" unless the figures are adjusted for inflation. That's a fairly significant change, as the stylebook update explains: "This is not statistical quibbling. It is simply not accurate to describe $1,000 in 2013 dollars as 'more' money than, say, $900 in 1960..." Times public editor Margaret Sullivan wrote last Friday about the paper's need to contextualize large numbers, such as the federal deficit or budget allocations, in order to better explain their relevance and importance (or lack thereof). "They might take the form of new entries to the stylebook," she noted then. And so they have.

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