Tips on AP style

o Spell out, do not abbreviate, names of organizations, firms, agencies, universities and colleges, groups, clubs or governmental bodies the first time the name is used. (i.e., on first reference)

o But abbreviate such names on second reference, as here:
First ref: Civil Aeronautics Board
Second ref: the board.
First ref: National Organization for Women
Second ref: NOW

o DO NOT use an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses after the first reference of a full name. Wrong: The Radical Underwater First United Sailors (RUFUS) meets tonight. Right: The Radical Underwater First United Sailors meets tonight.

o Don’t use unfamiliar acronyms. Wrong: RUFUS was formed in 1923.

o In street addresses abbreviate these:
Street St., 1234 Goober St.
Avenue Ave., 3506 Loblolly Ave.
Boulevard Blvd., 80 Crabtree Blvd.
BUT, the words road, alley, circle, drive, etc. are never abbreviated.


o As a general rule, spell out both cardinal and ordinal numbers from one through nine. Use Arabic figures for 10 and above.
first day, one woman, 10 days
21st year, nine years, 50 more

o Use commas in numbers with four or more digits, EXCEPT IN YEARS AND STREET ADDRESSES:
1,500 eggplants the year 1984 23,879 students
7034 Aunt Bea St.

o The words billion and million may be used with round numbers:
3 million miles, $3 million, 10 billion years, $10 billion

o Numbers over a million may be rounded off and expressed this way, including sums of money:
2.75 million rather than 2,752,123.
About $2.35 million rather than $2,349,999.


o Capitalize names of holidays, historic events, church feast days, special events, etc., but not seasons:
Mother’s Day, Labor Day, Orientation Week
fall storm, autumn leaves ,winter tomatoes
spring break

o DO NOT capitalize points of the compass in usages like these:
an east wind, southern Arkansas
western Canada, southeast Forrest County
BUT DO CAPITALIZE points of the compass when part of the name of a recognized geographic area:
Southern California, Midwest
the South, the West Coast

o Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, and tribes:
Indian, Arab, Caucasian, Afro-American, Hispanic

o Capitalize and place quotation marks around the names of books, plays, poems, songs, lectures or speech titles, hymns, movies, TV programs, etc., when the full name is used.
"The Simpsons," "The Catcher in the Rye," "Arsenic and Old Lace"
"Star Wars," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds".


o A colon is used in clock time.
8:15 a.m., 9:15 p.m., 10 a.m. (not 10:00 a.m.)

o General rules for the hyphen: (See hyphen entry in punctuation section at the back of the stylebook for complete guidelines.)
The hyphen is used in phrasal adjectives:
a 7-year-old boy, an off-the-cuff opinion
a little-known man
But the hyphen is not used in sequences in which the adverb has an -ly suffix:
a gravely ill patient, a relatively weird student
In combinations of a number plus a noun of measurement, use a hyphen:
a 3-inch bug, a 6-foot man, a two-man team
A hyphen is always used with the prefix -ex, as in:
ex-president, ex-chairman

o The comma is omitted before Roman numerals and before Jr. and Sr. in names:
Adlai Stevenson III, John Elliot Jr.

Names and titles

o Generally, identify people in the news by their first name, middle initial and last name:
David R. Smoots, Fred L. Rogers

o Use full identification in first reference, but in second reference, use last name only:
Richard Cooper (first reference)
Cooper (second reference)
Angeline Smoots (first reference)
Smoots (second reference)

o While proper titles are capitalized and abbreviated when placed before a person’s name (except for the word president), titles that follow a person’s name are generally spelled out and not capitalized.
Voinovich, governor of Ohio
Pitts, a state representative
Wallbanger, director of the Goofus League

o Do not use courtesy titles—Mr., Mrs., Miss, etc.—unless not using them would cause confusion. (For example, you might want to use them when both members of a married couple are quoted in a news article.)


o Time in newspaper usage is always a.m. or p.m. Don’t use tonight with p.m. or this morning with a.m., because it is redundant. Don’t use the terms yesterday and tomorrow to describe when an event occurred. It is OK, however, to say today.

o In describing when an event happens, use the day of the week if the event occurs in the last week or the next week. BUT, use the calendar date if the event is longer than a week ago or farther than a week off.

o Generally, it’s more readable to put the time, then the date, when an event will occur:
RIGHT: The train arrives at 3 p.m. Jan. 3.
WRONG: The train arrives on Jan. 3 at 3 p.m.

o Never put both the day of the week and the date that an event will occur:
RIGHT: The fireman’s ball will be on Jan. 3.
WRONG: The fireman’s ball will be on Monday, Jan. 3.

o CORRECT: It’s 7 p.m.
INCORRECT: It’s 7:00 p.m.

These tips were compiled by David Davies


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