There were a few recent changes announced to the Associated Press’ stylebook. Many of the changes focused on race, gender, and ethnicities.
Here’s a rundown of some of the updates to the 2019 AP stylebook:
No more hyphens that denote dual heritage. Instead of hyphenating “African American,” it will now go unhyphenated. Same for “Asian American” or “Italian American,” and the like. (Note: The Chicago Manual of Style hasn’t suggested using the hyphen in recent years, but The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage uses hyphens in most expressions such as “Italian-American” but not in others such as “Jewish American” or French Canadian.”
“Dropping a hyphen does not appear to be a big deal but it reflects a growing acknowledgment among news organizations that racial and ethnic identities are individual, that the individuals have differing views on how to portray themselves, and that news organization should be aware of those desires,” writes Merrill Perlman in Columbia Journalism Review.
Change to Native American references. Formerly, you could use “Indian” to refer to “Native American” or “American Indian.” The update says the term shouldn’t be used as shorthand for “American Indians.”
People of color. You can say “people of color” but not use “POC” as an abbreviation. The 2006 stylebook featured “African-American” as an entry and said the preferred term was “black.” It said to only use “African-American” (yes, now “African American”) in proper names.
Latino/Latina/Latinx references. The stylebook now calls for “Latino” to be the preferred noun or adjective for people of Spanish heritage. “Latina” is the feminine form of the word, and gender-neutral “Latinx” should be confined to quotations and names of organizations or descriptions of individuals who request it and should be accompanied by a short explanation.
Kristen Fischer is a copywriter and journalist living at the Jersey Shore. She worked as a reporter and copyeditor for Gannett before launching her full-time freelance business in 2005. Her work has been published in Parents, New Jersey Monthly, Prevention, Woman’s Day, SheKnows, and Healthline.