An Open Letter to the AP Stylebook

AP StylebookDear Associated Press Stylebook,

You’re killing me. I had to look twice when you changed from Web site to website, but I went along with it. I was squarely on your side when you switched from “e-mail” to “email.” Then you declared “health care” two words. I was cool with that.

But this time, you have gone too far. Your recent change to allow people to say “over” when they mean “more than” is a new rule I simply cannot follow. For years, I’ve proudly stood over interns as they crouched over their laptops, while I,  hands on hips, imagined myself wearing a cape adorned with the words “AP Style Goddess” that billowed in the wind as I poured out the beautiful black-and white, all-or-nothing finality your rules have provided. Did you notice my use of the word “over,” AP Stylebook? Those were correct uses.

To your argument that “over” when used in phrases such as “over 14,000 copyeditors gouged their eyes out rather than accept the latest AP Stylebook edict” has become common usage, I say this: bullshit.

For years – YEARS! – I have corrected writers who made this error by saying, “Over is directional. More than is what you mean.” And then a smile crosses my lips as I IMG_4087mentally add another mark to my ongoing tally of young minds I’ve enlightened. You’ll not take that away from me, AP Stylebook. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Just look at your “over” entry from the 2012 stylebook. It’s perfect.

To all the lovers of the written word, I say it’s time to rebel. Let us not go quietly into that dark night where common usage – however incorrect it may be – enables the authors of my favorite writing bible to make willy-nilly changes such as this. What’s next, AP Stylebook? Are you going to declare “axe” an acceptable substitution for “ask?” Will you say “for all intensive purposes” is the new “for all intents and purposes?”

This ends now.