Thursday, July 9, 2009

More on over and more than

I just read an authoritative dissertation on how The Associated Press is anal retentive about the use of "over" and "more than." According to AP, you don't say "over one billion burgers sold"; AP would say "more than one billion..."

The blog writer says that "over" and "more than" have been interchangeable since the 14th century. He says that copy editors are wasting their time changing over to more than. At one time, I would have said that it didn't matter. In fact, I did say that.

I was editing a story in 1984 (I have a long memory), and my boss looked over my shoulder and pointed to "over." Perhaps it said that "over 40 football players were injured." He said he preferred "more than," so I changed it. At the time, I had no opinion.

But, over the years, my opinion changed. As my boss/friend said, the cow jumped over the moon, but more than 20 cattle followed him.

The blog writer is welcome to his opinion, but, if I can, I prefer to be precise.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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