Whoa! Religion chapter added to AP Stylebook

Big news for Godbeat style geeks: The Associated Press Stylebook — the journalist's Bible — has added a religion chapter.

The Poynter Institute reports:

The 2014 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook comes out Wednesday, with about 200 changes and additions, including a new chapter devoted to religion, updates to social media terms, weather terms and the chapter on food.

Some of those additions include (sic)MERS and Buffalo wings, “B is capitalized in Buffalo,” said Sally Jacobsen, AP Stylebook editor, in a phone interview with Poynter. (AP puts the word “selfie” on the edition’s cover.)

“The key thing is the new chapter on religion,” she said. “We have 208 entries in that chapter.”

AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll reported those entries out for the Stylebook editors, speaking with religious scholars, communication specialists within denominations and AP reporters in different regions, including Jerusalem and Haiti. The goal is to be respectful to the groups themselves, to listen to them, Zoll told Poynter in a phone interview, but ultimately to be clear for the journalists for whom the book is made.

The Stylebook changes and grows with both language and culture, and this year, the new religion chapter includes an entry on Coptic Christians, for instance, and a more detailed entry on Easter, which acknowledges that not everyone using the Stylebook may be familiar with the holiday.

AP itself notes:

At more than 500 pages, the AP Stylebook is widely used as a writing and editing reference in newsrooms, classrooms and corporate offices worldwide.

In case you're curious, here are those new entries referenced by Poynter:

Coptic Christian 

The Coptic Orthodox Church traces its origins to the Apostle Mark in first century Alexandria. The word Copt is derived from the Greek word for Egypt. Coptic Christians generally share the beliefs of other Orthodox churches, but have some distinct teachings, mainly concerning Christology, or the nature of Christ. There are no definitive statistics for the Coptic Christian population, but they are considered to be the largest Christian community in the Mideast. Scholars estimate that Copts comprise 10 percent of the Egyptian population, or 8.5 million people. Significant diaspora Coptic Christian communities can be found in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Easter

Easter Christian holy day commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe Jesus was raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion.

Western Christian churches and most Orthodox Christian churches follow different calendars and observe Easter on different dates.

If you want to see all 208 religion entries, you'll need to buy the stylebook. But if you're interested in whether a specific term is included -- or how one is treated -- fire away and I'll check into it.

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