It’s no news that in the last two decades, technology has become ubiquitous. When copyediting, whether fiction or nonfiction, I am constantly coming across terms of technology for which some authors and readers aren’t quite sure of spelling or capitalization. Variations are found online, and although the terms have been added to style manuals, rules seem to vary between them and change with each new edition. I find myself constantly checking terms and especially names of specific software programs. Here are some basic tech/internet terms I would like to flag until the next update:
app: This term is prolific, whether referring to a smartphone, operating system, or streaming device. Because it is now part of the lexicon (my 12-year-old daughter can’t remember a day when it wasn’t), I do not spell it out as application, which I probably would have done (and did) just a few years ago.
cell phone: Two words per Webster’s, and a FAQ at The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) agrees, but this term seems destined to soon be one word, like smartphone.
email: It was first e-mail, for electronic mail, and although that still is the preferred spelling in Webster’s, CMoS thinks differently. When those two disagree, who wins?
Google vs google: Webster’s now prefers, not just allows, lowercasing google as a verb. To be clear, it’s not wrong to capitalize the term as a verb, as I’m sure people have their own preferences (some of us are still capitalizing Dumpster after all). Google has grown into a force so powerful and wildly procreative, it’s like Zeus. As with that deity, I cannot name all the children, but Google Books, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Maps are a few.
home page: Rather than homepage, although, again, I wonder when this will change, but see web page.
internet: Once capitalized, it’s now lowercased per CMoS. Webster’s still prefers the term capitalized.
log on to: Webster’s prefers this rather than log in to, or log into, or log onto, or variations with hyphens.
web page: Two words like home page, but see website.
website: This was once Web site and web site and now is more commonly website.
Wi-Fi: Because this is trademarked, it’s capitalized and has a hyphen. Side note: in the US, this is pronounced “why-fy,” but you, like me, may be charmed by non-native English speakers pronouncing it “we-fee.”
World Wide Web: If you remember the 1990s and capitalizing this full term in formal writing, then we can reminisce about various other things, like Britpop bands, belly rings, and Doc Martens. The term is capitalized as part of World Wide Web Consortium, which seems really clunky, like Docs, but is lowercased when abbreviating to just web. See also internet.
See CMoS 7.80 for various other terms and spelling/capitalization. I’ll continue to add to this list as I come across updates and other terms.