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Day 2007.01.06

A free style guideline

…for writers covering next week’s big trade show in San Francisco:

Macworld Conference & Expo. Macworld Expo is acceptable on first and subsequent references. Never just Macworld—the stand-alone name refers only to the magazine, not to the trade show.

Note that there are no capital W letters in any spelling of the trade show or the magazine.

Please pay extra attention to spelling if you work for the Wall Street Journal, Wired, or AppleInsider, or if you’re one of the analysts the site constantly quotes.

Expert Macintosh users who see “MacWorld” in an article know you don’t know what you’re talking about, just as most technology-literate readers would laugh at “MicroSoft,” “QualComm,” or “LexMark.” Referring to a famous technology event without the correct name or spelling is a quick way to throw away your credibility. Saying “That’s how I always thought it was spelled, and besides, everyone knew what I meant” is saying “I didn’t bother to get the facts about my subject before I wrote my article.” Don’t be that writer.

Readers sometimes benefit from changing odd capitalization to more traditional usage:

Before: The iPod shuffle play button is big and friendly.

After: The iPod Shuffle play button is big and friendly.

This is not one of those cases – changing “w” to “W” is neither more traditional nor does it aid understanding. Dropping “Expo” is fine for casual conversation, but since the magazine is heavily involved with the trade show, correctly referring to “Macworld Expo” and Macworld assists the reader:

Macworld has announced its list of “Best in Show” products for the current Macworld Expo.

It also simplifies searching your database for articles about the trade show. When in doubt, use the correct name instead of the short version. Being clear and accurate is more important than being trendy.