Being a newspaper style geek, I found this visual timeline of changes to The Associated Press Stylebook pretty cool.

ap-timeline

The first entry is the June 1980 debut of ‘Ms.,’ and the latest change (as of this entry) is AP’s decision to redefine the use of the word “Islamists.” I like the June 10, 2010, change in which AP adds serious internet terminology, such as ROFL and LOL.

Journalist style guides are an interesting cultural barometer.

One of my favourite gifts came from a photographer I work with who bought me a copy of a 1983 Canadian Press Stylebook he found at a thrift shop.

Here’s an entry under the heading, ‘Sexism’:

Do not suggest surprise that a woman has talent.
Not: “You would never guess from Mary Brown’s appearance but she is a brain surgeon and a highly regarded one.”

It’s laughable now, I guess. But it’s pretty ridiculous that this had to be said even in 1983. It’s gems like these that help us see how we’ve changed as a society — or haven’t.