This answer didn't require much scanning

Mr. Rewrite has discovered another dog's breakfast on Google News as media organizations grapple with the item featured above. Editing a piece that mentioned a bar code, he dutifully checked the AP Stylebook -- nothing -- and then, per his marching orders from AP, the Webster's New World College Dictionary. Its entry: bar code.

Mr. Rewrite was ready to put a gold star on the story and move on. But then, suspecting that folks would tend to use barcode, he decided to see how the news media handle the term. Sure enough, there are many more references on Google News to barcode than bar code. A lot of the former are on garbage news/PR sites, but spot checks found that respected news organizations such as The Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg have used both flavors -- plus an occasional bar-code -- in the recent past.

Mr. Rewrite feels a little guilty recommending bar code. Even he thinks barcode first since it appears so often that way. It looks like one of those cases in which society has moved on and reference books are going to trail by a few years or more.

For now, however, please keep scanning Mr. Rewrite's blog and go with bar code. But let's make this another stylebook suggestion for AP and see what comes back.


Meanwhile, feel free to scan the code below to see a version of Mr. Rewrite's blog formatted for iPhone. He has yet to figure out how to retain his favorite font, Courier New, in the mobile version.

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