Courtesy of SpongeBob SquarePants
Copy editors around the country are discussing style points related to a talking yellow sponge. And if that doesn't sound strange enough, their discussions certainly will.
First I read this thread at Testy Copy Editors: "In this review, the NYT has officially gone overboard with its insistence on using honorifics on second reference (or else A.O. Scott is having some fun with the style police):
In my ideal cinémathèque, "The Life Aquatic" would play on a permanent double bill with "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Mr. Anderson and Stephen Hillenburg, Mr. Squarepants's creator, share not only a taste for nautical nonsense, but also a willingness to carry the banner of unfettered imaginative silliness into battle against the tyranny of maturity.(Personally, I find the honorific delightful. Papers that are silly enough to use honorifics ought to be consistent -- even when the results point out how silly they actually are.)
Then I read in the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail that AP style requires a two spaces in SpongeBob SquarePants:
We had a rather detailed discussion over the name usage. Since our newspaper uses courtesy titles, did we refer to the abductee as Mr. Pants or Mr. SquarePants? The Associated Press puts a space in between "Square" and "Pants" while Google doesn’t. In accordance with AP style, we’re going with Mr. Pants.Huh?
First, Google doesn't "put" spaces in anything. It just tells you where other people have put them.
Second, Google shows 61,400 hits for "SpongeBob Square Pants." It shows 1.23 million for "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Third, I don't know Norm Goldstein personally, but I hope I would have heard if the AP Stylebook came out with a rebellious ruling on SpongeBob SquarePants. Clearly, Nickelodeon has it as two words. Why would AP require three?
My guess is that a reporter saw it wrong in an AP-written story. But that doesn't make it AP style. That just makes it an AP mistake.