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Richard Nordquist

Web site, Website, or website: Says Who?

By January 21, 2007

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If you're out to settle a bet, be warned before you visit our Q & A Sites on Grammar and Usage. Even the editors of the top style guides sometimes disagree. Take, for instance, the case of Web site, Website, and website: which one is the standard form?

About once a week, Norm Goldstein of APStylebook.com patiently responds to this question in essentially the same way:

AP style remains Web site, two words, cap W. While we continue to measure usage, we have no plans to change the style at this time. (Jan 18, 2007)
Also favoring Web site are the editors of The Chicago Manual of Style Online--but not the experts at AskOxford.com:
It always takes a little time for new words to settle to a standardized form. Our most recent dictionary, the revised 11th edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, published in July 2004, shows website as the standard form, and future dictionaries will reflect this.

Likewise, we find this usage note at the online site of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

The transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website seems to have progressed as rapidly as the technology itself. The development of website as a single uncapitalized word mirrors the development of other technological expressions which have tended to evolve into unhyphenated forms as they become more familiar. Thus email has recently been gaining ground over the forms E-mail and e-mail, especially in texts that are more technologically oriented.

In the face of such disagreements over a simple matter of usage, what should a poor writer do? Our advice is to visit Top Q & A Sites on Grammar and Usage, choose any one authority, and stick with it. Or at least stick with it until you run across a ruling that you can't abide. At that point, turn to our new Grammar & Composition Forum, and together we'll cook up our own conventions.



September 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm
(1) Norma H. says:

In researching this usage, I came across a notice that, in fact, APP changed their stylebook in 2010 to accept the term “website” in place of Web site. http://lisagoldresearch.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/ap-stylebook-surrenders-the-battle-over-web-site-vs-website/

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