“Web site” vs. “website”

Although I’ve used “Web site” for years, recently I find myself gravitating toward “website.” Now, when I look at my work, I see inconsistencies everywhere — and it’s driving me crazy!

So, I sought advice from the Chicago Manual of Style website (see what I mean?) and it just made matters worse. Here’s what they say:

” .. generally, I would recommend ‘Web site’ for formal writing, but ‘website’ for informal writing or friendly writing. Unless, of course, you prefer ‘Web site’ even
when you’re being friendly.”

I don’t do any formal writing. I consider ALL my writing friendly — so I guess I get to decide whether I prefer “Web site” or “website.”

What do YOU think? You can reply by clicking on “Comments.”


  1. Maria says

    I use “Web site” when I’m editing for others. “Web” in this context refers to the World Wide Web, not to be confused with, say, a spider’s web. However, in casual writing (say, in personal emails to friends, not business associates), I often use “website,” which I think we will all end up gravitating toward.

  2. Richard says

    “Web” I thought was a proper name, thus needed to be separate and capitalized. You wouldn’t say , “petershouse,” if it was “Peter’s house.”
    So, Web site.

  3. Richard Valenty says

    Egads! I do know how to spell the word “the.” Apparently the holidays were quite good to me. Still, the AP Stylebook does say “Web site.”

  4. says

    Although I am fighting the losing battle of “a lot” staying two words, I don’t seem to mind website. However, whatever you do DON’T add a hyphen, a la web-site. Just go for it.

  5. says

    Better to write “website” because its what searchers type into search engines. A marketer must speak the language of their customer… unless their customers are grammar teachers :-)

  6. says

    This is a comment in regard to online safety for children. Are you aware if you type your phone number on the search site http://www.google.com it will pull up your address? It’s one thing to find this information if you know the person’s name; but what about just their phone number? I really like the google web site; but what children protection policies should search engines consider? if any?

  7. Walter says

    Iwanto make myopinion clear. If anyone wantsto ignore reasonable rules for Englishusage by makingup word combinations, Isuppose theycan dothat.
    Personally, I think they should gobacktoschool.

  8. Lars Bjork says

    In my country Sweden we too have a problem when mentioning a place on the net. The problem is if we shall use the English expression “website”, the semienglish expression “webbsite”,the semiswedish translation “webbplats” or the full translation “n

  9. Chris Ryan says

    How about compromising? Capitalize “w” and use Website. I would have to agree that the rules for formal writing would direct you to use “Web site” but technical writing is rarely used in your average correspondance. Also, the “WWW” portion of addresses is capitalized when written out but is usually in the smaller case letters when typing in an address. There really isn’t any thing like the American english language, is there! Are there any rules that don’t have an exception? :)

  10. says

    While I would have a problem if that word became as long as some of those similarly ‘put together’ words you might find in German, I prefer “website”. After all, we don’t say “cup board”, “head lines” or “ever green” etc, do we?

  11. Patricia says

    I like website, but what about web cam? Unfortunately we are becoming very lazy with the use of the written and spoken word. Hopefully we would never contract airline ticket etc

  12. Cathy says

    After just completing a graduate class on the Internet, from what I learned in the class, the proper term is Web site. However, I do use website as a term also. Since the words “Internet” and “World Wide Web” and “Web site” are relatively new terms in our language, it will be interesting how these evolve and what is acceptable!

  13. Linda says

    I like website. It is a computer word, soon to be added to the dictionary, if we have our way!

  14. says

    I too have struggled with this. Having been a teacher of communications and Internet “stuff” I have long used Web site but have longed to use website. Not only is Web site more difficult to type I believe it also infers two separate items, a Web and a site. Website, has the connotation of a single item such as a site on the World Wide Web.
    Thanks for all the great stuff in your newsletters.

  15. says

    I have struggled with this too! I am so glad you brought it up! I think the correct spelling should be added to the dictionary and it should be “website”. If I wanted to say web site, I like it said better this way, “A site on the web.” Just my opinion. For the record, i prefer “website.”

  16. anita says

    Thanks for your great website and newsletter Barbara!
    Here in the high school library four of us vote for “website”.
    The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language – Fourth Edition says:
    webmaster, webpage(Web page), website (Web site)
    “Usage Note – The transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website seems to have progressed as rapidly as the technology itself. The development of website as a single uncapitalized word mirrors the development of other technological expressions which have tended to evolve into unhphenated forms as they become more familiar. Thus email has recently been gaining ground over the forms E-mail and e-mail, especially in texts that are more technologically oriented. Similarly, there has been an increasing preference for closed forms like homepage, online, and printout.” (p. 1949)

  17. Debbie says

    This is an example of the dynamic nature of our English language. My thought on the matter starts with the fact that Web/web is a brand new word and “it” in itself is an abbreviated version of “World Wide Web”. But as far as “site”…..I’m worried about the person who questons the “spelling” because “sight” and “site” are homographs that sound the same but mean something different and are spelled differently, so “please” don’t teach children that site is always the wrong spelling! Site originates from the Latin word “situs” which meant “position” defined as a location or scene, whereas, “sight” originates from the Old English word “seon” which means “to see” and defined as something seen or worth seeing or the act of seeing.
    Well, that may not be “simple” but it worried me that our kids could be penalized for spelling such a “current” word.
    My “simple” view is that the Web wouldn’t “exist” without “sites “webbed” together!! It’s going to take time for the dictionary to catch up, but I found words like “sit-com” so in time website or web site will probably “both” even be in the dictionary. That’s the wonderful thing about our English Language!!

  18. badboss says

    I always thought it looked better writen as website, but this will get you a spelling error at NetMechanics.com. I swear by their HTML Toolbox editor. It has helped me straighten out hundreds of script errors. So I will continue to use web site.

  19. Joan says

    I go with “website”. It is about time we made this an easily used word that evolved from frequent use in the English language! Like kleenex and xerox, I think “website” is so commonly used, I doubt anyone out there would NOT understand the meaning if spelled casually and with EASE for use! That humble opinion comes from a teacher who is usually in a hurry, too.

  20. Larry Beck says

    “Web”, with a capital “W” refers to the Web as a whole, complete entity. “I searched the ‘Web’ last night and didn’t find an answer. You should use website when referring to a specifi site on the Web. Or maybe it should be web site? Hm, I think I like it being two words, not one. I remember the good old days when we debated over the word “online”. Is it “on-line”? Or “online”? Email is another one. For me, it will always be email, not e-mail, regardless of what the Chicago folks say.

  21. Sylvia says

    I use “website” since I have always thought “Web site” looked funny when written. I remember when we also used “web page” and that was fine until we all did end up with a “website”. “Web site” looks funny because when used this way we start it with a captial letter. This is like the debate over Internet or internet. There are many ways we have spoke and written a bit differently than in the real world. One day the powers that be will decide and then tell us what exact words to use. Then our Internet freedom will be gone and we won’t be free to do it our way or mix it up anymore without looking dumb. :(

  22. M says

    My spelling tests would have been marked incorrect if I had spelled ‘sight’ as you do.
    I think it is two words. Would we contract airlineticket or touristattraction or some other phrase?

  23. Renee says

    I use the word in my writing so often that it’s just easier to use “website”. Of course everytime I use that in a word document the RED line occurs underneath it to tell me I have spelled it wrong. They have no suggestions, though, so I always respond, “Ignor All”! It’s time for a decision to be made. I vote for website!

  24. Susan says

    I like the term KISS for myself–that means keep it simple stupid!Of course that’s only when referring to myself!!For you I’d say only KIS–keep it simple!!!I vote for website!!!

  25. LJ says

    I did not realize there was a difference. I would just go with website. Potato potato, tomato tamato… color colour ??? :)

  26. Chris says

    I think that in the time when building ‘Web sites’ had just became user friendly we all felt like we were accomplishing a great task and we used the more professional way of the term ‘Web sites’. And now just about everybody and his brother has a ‘website’ we are more in the mind frame of friendliness because we know that everybody is doing it and it is no great tack.