Have you been using crypto as a substitute for cryptocurrency? Well, you shouldn’t. According to the Associated Press (AP), using the two interchangeably can create confusion. In its 2019 Stylebook, AP clarified on this and many other issues for journalists and other writers. And while the clarification isn’t all that crucial, it signals something much larger; that cryptocurrencies have become a mainstream industry.
The AP Stylebook is one of the most widely used writing and editing references, from newsrooms to corporations to classrooms. The AP releases a new edition each spring, listing new additions as well as changes to previous entries.
The Stylebook dictates that you can’t use crypto as a substitute for cryptocurrency, a practice that’s very common. Before the advent of cryptocurrencies, crypto was used to refer to cryptography, a field that deals with protecting information through the use of codes. While this is the backbone of cryptocurrencies, there is a distinction between the two terms, and AP insists that it should be observed.
The Stylebook explained that cryptocurrency is: “A type of digital money that uses encryption technology to make it secure. Avoid using the shorthand crypto, which can be confused with cryptography. Cryptocurrency is not the same as virtual currency, which is used in virtual worlds such as online games.”
The Stylebook also sought to clarify on when to capitalize cryptocurrencies. “Capitalize when referring to Bitcoin and other currencies as a system, but lowercase when referring to their use as payment: The government wants to regulate Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He bought a vacuum cleaner online using bitcoins.”
Based in New York City, the AP has been adding cryptocurrency terms for quite some time now to its stylebook. In 2014, it indicated that: “Bitcoin is a digital currency. As a concept, Bitcoin is capitalized. The currency unit, bitcoin, is lowercase.”
However, this was quickly corrected by the crypto community with Laura Shin, the host of the Unchained Podcast quickly tweeting:
Hi AP, I’m a journalist who has been covering this space for years. Slight correction: Bitcoin is capitalized when referring to the *network* (not the concept). The currency is lower case. Similarly, Ethereum the network is capitalized; ether the digital currency is lower case.
— Laura Shin (@laurashin) May 30, 2019
With each cryptocurrency-related addition to the Stylebook, it’s becoming clearer that the crypto industry is becoming more prominent in the mainstream media.
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