The Onion posted a funny (well, funny to me) article yesterday about copy editing:
4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence
- NEW YORK—Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style. “At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.” “The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbookgang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.” Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
This is obvious hyperbole about a real note of contention among punctuation slingers.
There are notable differences between these two styles. For starters, Associated Press style is aimed at newspapers. It’s founded on the idea that people must write briefly so as much information as possible can fit onto pages. Thus, only numbers one through ten are written out (numerals are used for higher numbers), state names use the postal code, and the Oxford (or serial) comma is nowhere to be found.
Chicago is focused on other publications, such as books. Space limits are not a focus, so numbers through one hundred are spelled out, state names are spelled out, and my beloved Oxford comma retains its prideful position.
Are you interested in learning more about the differences between these two styles? Here’s a link to AP vs. Chicago, a blog about the subject.