Friday, June 18, 2010

Points of Contention: Smart Phone.

I'm having a little trouble letting things go today, so I'm going to write about this here and hope this post helps me let it go, like a little red balloon of rage, floating slowly away in the sky.

One of the sites I work with posted a story about smart phones. I am going to write a headline promoting this story. My employer generally follows (pretends to follow, actually) AP Style. AP Style for smart phones is two words. The story in question used smartphones. The following exchange ensued with the site's editor.

Hi [editor],

This is a little annoying, but we follow AP style on [the homepage] and AP dictates that smart phone be two words instead of one. Can you do a search and replace on that for this post? Not a huge deal but it would make sense to be consistent.

"Smart phone" is an outdated spelling. AP needs to update. If I stick with the current, accepted (though not by AP standards) spelling, will you be forced to NOT run the piece?

I don't think I've ever pushed back on a single request [from your team], but this one would make us look like an uninformed outlet, with all due respect.

Wow. I hadn't encountered this level of passion from this editor on anything. I also hadn't encountered this level of passion from anyone on AP style. It was as if I'd asked that we start saying World Wide Web instead of Web or something.

I'm just going by AP's latest style guidelines for social media, which were released this month. AP style is pretty current and accepted by most news outlets, but ok.

AOL Tech uses "smartphone," and so does Google --

-- and I think I'd prefer to stay with their usage.

Google is a search engine and does not have its own stylebook, as far as I know. I was dying to make this point, and also note that Apple and various other manufacturers used smart phone in the very results link he sent, but instead I forced myself to hit the close button on the e-mail and not reply.

What's ironic here is, I don't actually care which style gets used. I don't have a smart phone, I don't often type the words smart phone, and if there are people in the world who want to type smartphone instead, I say hello, friend to the compound word, nice to meet ya. I just happen to like AP Style and editorial consistency. And I happen to dislike poor reasoning. That's all.

Please weigh in on this or any other matter of AP style that has you particularly incensed or delighted.


  1. Anonymous2:23 PM

    I would have written "smart phone. " Considering his analysis, I would write smartphone and make the entire website consistent.

  2. I would use smartphone, but dumbeditor.

  3. I agree with Deborah...I 'feel' like I see smartphone as one word more often than not these days, but you are totally in the right for trying to wrangle some consistency...

    But that's not the real issue. The real issue is how this hothead went from 0 to 60 on the spite index after a polite request from you. People like that ruin workplaces, ruin work relationships, and need counseling. I can only imagine how this editor behaves when he/she is confronted by something that is...I don't know, actually confrontational.

    All that said, good on you for letting it go. Life's too short, you gotta choose your fights wisely.

  4. it should be


    with a mandatory line break

  5. Very incisive comments! I agree that it seems like it should be smartphone. These comebacks are very tempting.


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