Arguing about the spelling of website...

Please settle an argument some of my co-workers. They have come to me asking what the proper spelling is of “website” is it one word, is it upper case W and S, and so on. Does anyone actually know??

Short answer: Nobody knows, as it hasn’t been around very long.

Long answer: People have lots of opinions.

I believe at one point capitalization was generally accepted: “Web site” because it came from World Wide Web, which was always capitalized to indicate it’s god-like ubiquity. “Website” was the way a lot of newspapers did it back in the early days of the web.
My personal opinion: Stick with the lower case, one word “website”. The capitalization makes you look all agape and naive. I write copy and this is the way I do it, based on an informal survey of general usage.


Agh. Its. Its. Notice I didn’t say I edit copy.

Properly speaking, “Web” should be capitalized, as you mean a specific, unique web–the World Wide Web, not a random spider web. “Web” in this context is a proper noun, like the White House.

(Ditto for “the Internet”–it’s perfectly possibly to have a network of networks that isn’t hooked up to the Internet, after all.)

As to whether it’s Website or Web site, it could go either way. Usage will decide. I think it’s easier on the eyes as two words.

There is no standardized spelling for this word(s) since it’s relatively new. My company recently sent out a memo that in all our documentation we are to use the term “website” everywhere. But it’s far too soon to say that’s standard. The full name of the web is the World Wide Web (www) so it seems natural to refer to the Web, and sites on it as Web sites. That’s my preference. But we tend to compress and abbreviate commonly used phrases. It’s sort of like email, or is it Email or e-mail?

Agree, sort of. A network of networks that isn’t hooked up to the Internet is not necessarily an internet. A network that uses TCP/IP is an internet.

According to my 1998 AP Style book, the entry for World Wide Web is:

Of course that is 3 years ago and that is strictly AP style. Other newspapers (like the NY Times) have their own styles, as do companies.

I agree with others who say “Web” should be capitalized and separated from “site” or “page.” When I write copy for my own company I use that train of thought.

But I sense it’ll be a while before there’s a real answer.

Another data point: New York Times uses “Web site”. (example)

Well, one thing is for sure: It’s not webside or websight.

Tim Berners-Lee uses “Web site.” However, I think “web” should only be capitalized in certain instances. Such as, “I have a web page on the Web.” Or, “The Web is home to many web sites.”

A Google search for website gives 41,600,000 hits. A Google search for web site gives 4,800,000.

The Columbia Guide to Online Style states:

Web Short for the World Wide Web, hence the capital letter.”

The same source uses “Web site” as two words.

Cite: Walker, Janice R. and Todd Taylor. The Columbia Guide to Online Style. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. p. 210.

Every current dictionary I have ever seen (and as a librarian I have seen a lot) is unequivocal: “Web” in relation to the World Wide Web is always capitalized.

Yup, and if you enter “web site” Google asks if you meant “website.” So we know that they believe it’s all one word.

on the other hand, if you are a C programmer, it is webSite