What's old in the AP Stylebook's 'What's new" section

I got my 2019 Associated Press Stylebook in the mail the other day and, as I suspect most editors do, I turned immediately to the “What’s new?” section up front.

This handy reference tells you at a glance what’s changed since the last AP guide. Some changes deal with broad language issues, like an entry in this year’s guide for “Medicare for All,” with a capital M and a capital A.

Other changes don’t hold much interest to anyone but editors, like a 2019 change that says we should stop spelling out “percent” when it comes after a number and just use the symbol: 20%.

Still other changes are downright adorable, like how, this year, AP decided to warn editors that “Santa Claus” and “Santa” are both “nice,” but using “Claus” on second reference is “naughty.”

However, this year, “What’s new?” got me thinking in reverse. I wondered: What’s old in “What’s new?” That is, what was new in previous editions of AP’s style guide and have those changes stood the test of time?

To find out, I headed to my bookshelf, where I have an incomplete collection of AP Stylebooks past. Here’s some of what was new in newspaper editing when these guides came out.

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