Which should it be - Web site or website? Add Your Vote Now

I surveyed over 150 WordBiz Report subscribers in March 2003 on which spelling they prefer and use. Barbara Feldman, who runs SurfNetKids, did the same recently (Barbara, thanks for the idea).

65 percent of WordBiz readers voted for website
35 percent chose Web site

Drumroll... I then put the 'Web site' vs. 'website' challenge to Norman Goldstein, AP Stylebook editor. Here's how he replied:

"Style," in the sense we're talking about, really means a preference (in spelling or punctuation or capitalization or usage) when there is a choice to be made. AP made the choice of "Web site" for what we thought were very good, language-based, reasons. Others are free to use their preference - as long as it is clear to a reader and consistent.

However, none of us can claim to create a "new language," for the Internet, or elsewhere. (Every generation of teenagers, for example, comes up with its own "language," but it fades quickly into oblivion.)
More creative writers than I have said - wisely - that "usage will
push new meanings into currency no matter how many authorities hurl themselves into the path of change.

Norman Goldstein, editor AP StyleBook [May 2003]

Here is a selection of provocative responses from WordBiz readers on this spelling/style question:

- web site is so... old skool

- website just looks better. Of course I probably feel that way because I'm 25, an avid surfer, and grew up with not the greatest grammer. I am finally starting to understand word usage on the Internet, but Web site just doesn't do it for me.

- The noun "website" looks better and is informal; however, I will not use it that way until the major style guides change. Until then, they recommend "Web site," and I use "Web site."

- English is a consensual language ( which is why we English don't object to Americans telling us how to spell ;) and these variants in newish words will probably not settle down until the next-but-one edition of the Greater Oxford. But think how boring it would be if we had an academy and couldn't go around inventing words!

- I know that Web site is "correct" grammatically, but I prefer the one-word version

- I work for an engineering firm and fight the decapitalize battle every day. Language evolves; it's time for us to let website catch hold.

- While I would still capitalize Internet (noun), in the case of web site, 'web' is an adjective and would not capitalize it.

- The World Wide Web is a legal trademark, and should be handled as such, the same as name brands, people's titles and government entities.

- I think the reason it should be two words with the capital W is because it refers to a proper noun (World Wide Web...you wouldn't write that world wide web, right?) and to combine them into two words would be like writing kleenextissues. How silly!

- How about standardizing email (e-mail, eMail...) too? Then again, in academia we can't even figure out Bachelors/bachelors/bachelor's degree and Master's/master's degree.

- Our internal style is to use "Web site", but it drives me nuts. Since most technical and insider publications use "website", I think the alternate spelling gives you a low-tech vibe.

- Originally, Web site was more accurate since "Web" was used as an adjective describing a type of site. Now the term,website, is used almost exclusively as a noun, a specific entity.

- I like website - it's more comfortable than "Web site," less stodgy, less 90's.

- This has evolved. Two years ago, I would have said "Web site," but it has become a "portmanteau" word and should no longer be capitalized.

- My second grader has studied compound words recently and it just seems like "website" is an obvious compound word -- how's that for simple logic??

- My spellcheckers say web site. But then they don't believe in email, either, only e-mail.

- The term "website" is clear and focused. Since the term is being used more and more, there's no reason to make it two words.

- I type this word countless times a day - I used to use the more pc 'Web site' but these days the fact that 'website' has two fewer keystrokes gives it my vote.

- does it matter???

- A web site is a marketing tool ....just like a brochure, an ad, direct mail, etc., so why does it need cap W?

- I believe a third option is web site.

- If we can invent dumb words like moped and longarm (don't ask, it's exclusive to my industry), then "website" most certainly deserves real-word status!

- I go back and forth on this one, but for now I'm using two words.

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