What Will You Do to Kill the Coworking Hyphen? #deathtothehyphen

office nomads logo capitol hill coworking seattleThe email we have sent to the President and CEO of Associated press asking to include coworking without a hyphen in the AP Stylebook has reignited the discussion and a lot of people are reacting with ideas and their own proposals. Jacob Sayles (founder of Office Nomads and Open Coworking) sent an email that his colleague Lauren Grant who did some good research back in 2004 about ways to fight the hyphen: 

Hi All,

I’ve done a little research trying to figure out how we might move forward in trying to persuade the AP to reconsider their position on the co-working vs. coworking issue.  Most of what follows is less of a concrete plan, and more of the background info we would need in deciding where/how to focus our efforts:

  1. Webster’s New World College Dictionary(WNWCD) is the official dictionary for the AP Stylebook. 
  • Interestingly, and importantly, the WNWCD is not published by Merriam Webster, but by Houghton Mifflin.
  • There will be differences, then, between WNWCD’s and Meriam-Webster’s treatment of terms.
  • So, if we want to begin by getting coworking into a dictionary, it seems like focusing our attention on the WNWCD would be best.
  • BUT…. The AP’s rules of spelling, grammar, etc. don’t always match the WNWCD.

–       For example, the AP spells email without a hyphen, while WNWCD’s primary definition retains the hyphen.

  • So, if WNWCD adds coworking to their dictionary it wouldn’t necessarily result in a change in the AP’s approach to spelling co-working.

–       Although the AP Stylebooks’s values are listed as consistency, clarity, accuracy, and brevity, they definitely seem to be privileging consistency in their continued use of co-working.  (We’ve always spelled it this way and will continue to do so…)

  • Finally, the WNWCD just issued its first print revision in decades on August 26.  I am guessing that another print edition will not come out for some time.  We might lobby for the addition of coworking now, but it would be a while before we saw the change in print.

–       The online version of WNWCD probably publishes updates more regularly, but I can’t view their editorial policy without a subscription.

  1. If we want to argue with the editor(s) at the AP Stylebook directly, we will need a subscription.
  • As far as I can tell only subscribers can submit questions to the editor and view the complete archive of past Q and As to the editor.

–  A yearly subscription to the AP Style Guide is $26.

  1. Why does the New York Times use “coworking” when speaking of the Coworking Visa, but not in other cases, as Jacob mentioned in his post?
  • Although the New York Timesuses the WNWCD, they have their very own style guide that conflicts with the AP’s style guide on many points
  1. So, what are our options?
  • We can work to have coworking included in various dictionaries.This may not impact the AP Stylebook, but it would contribute to making the distinction between co-working and coworking clearer and bring general awareness to the issue.

–       I would be happy to do some research on how different dictionaries treat address the issue of co-working v. coworking if at all, and what the editorial policies are for adding/amending entries.

  • Tweet our discontent

–       As Carsten Foertsch suggested in his article for deskmag:  @APStylebook #Coworking is not Co-working.  It’s an independent movement that doesn’t want to be separated by a hyphen!

–       This was suggested in 2011, however, and there hasn’t been much activity since.  Do we want to revitalize this? Perhaps come up with a new hashtag?

–      Does anyone have other ideas?

Hopefully this info will be useful when deciding what steps to take next!

Lauren M Grant

What will you do to bring #deathtothehyphen?