Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ever Wonder About the Hyphen in E-mail?

Here's what the Associated Press has to say about it. This organization drives style decisions at newspapers:

As electronic mail became widespread, it came to be referred to as "e-mail." Many users soon began to drop the hyphen (fewer keystrokes). Now, "email" is searched on Google nearly six times as much as "e-mail." Is there a plan to switch "e-mail" to "email" in an upcoming version of the AP Stylebook?

Tim Bergerhofer

Kansas City, Mo.


Call us stubborn, or sticklers for clarity, but AP sees no compelling reason to replace e-mail with email.

Why do we stand on e-mail? That spelling is the first choice of major dictionaries, including AP's primary spelling reference, Webster's New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition. It is also the preference of many newspapers. And e-mail is consistent with other hyphenated, electronic age terms such as e-book, e-commerce, e-shopping and e-business (which would look odd without hyphens).

You're not the first to propose dropping the hyphen. But the arguments of one fewer keystroke and search engine statistics don't convince us that e-mail would be enhanced by excision.

David Minthorn

AP Manager for News Administration

"Ask the Editor" columnist, APStylebook.com

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