This mic wins again

I’ve written before about an exercise in my editing course in which students settle a few style points. It’s that time of the semester again, and here’s what the classes contemplated and decided this week:

First-year student vs. freshman: The majority went with “freshman” as the preferred term, though a few made a case for the gender-neutral “first-year.” (The latter is what the university likes.)

Global warming vs. climate change: This got an “it depends” response, depending on what the story was about. (It’s one that we dealt with earlier this year as part of the News21 project.)

Mike vs. mic: For the third consecutive semester, students unanimously went with “mic” as a short form for microphone. The reasons given were similar to those in prior semesters — it sounds more contemporary, and it’s what used in the recording industry.

This exercise lives in the gray areas of editing, and to college students “mike vs. mic” is a black-and-white issue. Because it is apparently not contentious enough, I am considering dropping it after this semester.

Are the fans of “mike” ready to talk me into keeping it?



  1. Great exercise, though I can see how too many unanimous votes would take the fun out of things. I’d keep mike/mic, if only as a reminder that conventional wisdom, common sense and “everybody knows” are untrustworthy companions.

  2. So … “bic” from bicycle? Nope.

    Kidding aside, the verb form in the industry is “mike/miking/miked.” Why make the noun different?

  3. I like this exercise.

    I vote you keep “mic”/”mike” because it calls for students to look at industry precedent, an important aspect of setting conventions. Maybe students intuitively understand that “mic” is the common abbreviated form, but as professional editors, knowing why is still a good thing.

    In the technical For Dummies books I edit, I go with “mic” and have done so for years 🙂

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