8/16/2011

Get this right or Mr. Rewrite will downgrade you


As the U.S. economy circles the metaphorical drain, threatening our very real 401(k) accounts, Mr. Rewrite has labored mightily to determine the proper use of painfully relevant terms such as free fall and sugar-coated Satan sandwich.

He figures it's time to get straight on that rating agency near the center of the storm.

There's a dog's breakfast on Google News when it comes to Standard & Poor's. A good number of articles refer to it as Standard and Poors or Standard & Poors rather than Standard & Poor's, which is featured on the firm's website. More importantly for Mr. Rewrite's purposes, it's handled as Standard & Poor's in the AP Stylebook down to the ampersand.

There's also some confusion about shortening the firm's name to the S&P/S and P, as this headline illustrates:


The AP Stylebook has no entry on this matter, but a check of AP stories finds the world's oldest and largest newsgathering organization using S&P consistently. The New York Times does too. So go with that.

Meanwhile, AP style for bond ratings calls for AA+ when listing S&P's downgrade of U.S. debt. The Huffington Post has quite a few references to AA-Plus (but many more to AA+), and foreign news outlets seem to like that format. There are 17 categories in all, ranging from AAA (awesome -- the Mr. Rewrite of debt) to D (in default). Here's hoping the media don't have to deal with junk or high-yield debt, AP style for terms that would be used if U.S. debt slips into the BB+ to CCC- range.

Mr. Rewrite hopes to soon be researching the proper use of terms such as exponential investment returns. Oh, what a blessed day that will be in his virtual world ...

No comments: