Associated Press Stylebook - Quick Tips

English-language Style Guide – Associated Press Style

For writing in our class, you must follow the grammar, punctuation and spelling rules outlined in the Associated Press Stylebook. You may purchase the latest edition of the AP Stylebook at A free one-month trial is available via


Here's a Quick Reference sheet



Spell out the numbers one through nine. Use Arabic numerals for 10 and up. Always useArabic numerals for ages and percentages, even for numbers less than 10.


Spell out numbers that start a sentence. If the result is awkward, re-work the sentence:

Seventy-five students attended the symposium yesterday. Yesterday, 635 seniors wereawarded degrees.


The exception to this rule is a sentence that begins with a calendar year:

2007 was arecord-breaking year for fundraising.


Use Roman numerals for wars, monarchs and Popes:

World War II, King George VI, Pope John XXIII 


In the case of proper names, use words or numerals according to the organization’s practice:

3M, Twentieth Century Fund, Big Ten


Academic Degrees


Avoid abbreviations:

 Jehuda Reinharz, who has a doctorate in modern Jewish history …



Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc.


There is no apostrophe in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.


Use abbreviations such as B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many people by degree on first reference would make the preferred method cumbersome; usethe abbreviations only after a full name and set the abbreviations off with commas:

 Dorothee Kern, Ph.D., delivered a lecture on enzymes.



Always use Arabic figures, without










When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.:

 Fall Open House will be held on Oct. 8.


When a phrase lists only a month and year, do not separate the month and the year withcommas:

The new Web site will launch in December 2007.


When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas:

 Jan. 152008, was the first day of the semester.



Use figures except for noon and midnight


Use a colon to separate hours from minutes:

3:30 p.m.



4 o’clock is acceptable, but time listings with a.m. or p.m. (with periods) are preferred


United States


As a noun, use United States:

 Brandeis is one of the youngest private researchuniversities in the United States.


As an adjective, use U.S. (no spaces):

 A U.S. senator will speak at Brandeis tomorrow.



Spell out the names of the states when they appear alone:

The governor of Massachusettswas re-elected.


Abbreviate the names of states when they appear with the name of a city, town, village or military base:

Waltham, Mass., Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.


Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas or Utah


Use the following state abbreviations:Ala. Ga. Mich. N.J. R.I. Wis.Ariz. Ill. Minn. N.M. S.C. Wyo.Ark. Ind. Miss. N.Y. S.D.Calif. Kan. Mo. N.C. Tenn.Colo. Ky. Mont. N. D. Vt.Conn. La. Neb. Okla. Va.Del. Md. Nev. Ore. Wash.Fla. Mass. N.H. Pa. W.Va.




For plural nouns ending in




add only an apostrophe:

the students' grades, states' rights


For singular common nouns ending in



's: the hostess's invitation, the witness'sanswer 


For singular proper names ending in


use only an apostrophe:

 Brandeis’ mission


For singular proper names ending in


sounds such as

 x, ce,




's: Marx's theories


For plurals of a single letter, add

's: She received all A's this semester.


Do not use


for plurals of numbers or multiple letter combinations:

the 1960s, USEMs



Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a completesentence:

She promised this: The team will go to nationals this year.


There were three issues with the project: expense, time and feasibility.


Colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quoted material.



Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series:

 Boston, Newton,Cambridge and Lexington


Use a comma to set off a person's hometown and age:

 John Smith, Newton, was accepted to Brandeis. Jane Smith, 22, graduated yesterday.




Use a hyphen for compound adjectives before the noun:

well-known student, full-time job, 20-year sentence


Do not use a hyphen when the compound modifier occurs after the verb:

The student was well known. Her job became full time. He was sentenced to 20 years.



The temptation to use parentheses is a clue that a sentence is becoming contorted. Try torewrite the sentence, putting the incidental information between commas or dashes, or ina separate sentence. If you must use parentheses, follow these punctuation guidelines:


Place a period outside a closing parenthesis if the material inside is not a sentence

(suchas this fragment)



If the material is an independent complete sentence, place the period inside the parentheses.



Use a single space after the period at the end of a sentence.


Do not put a space between initials:

C.S. Lewis; J.K. Rowling 


Quotation marks


In dialogue, each person’s words are placed in a separate paragraph, with quotationmarks at the beginning and end of each person’s speech.


Periods and commas always go within quotation marks.


Dashes, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go within the quotationmarks when they apply to the quoted material. They go outside when they apply to thewhole sentence.


Use single marks for quotes within quotes:

Smith said, "She told me, ‘I wish I had beenaccepted to Brandeis.'" 



Titles of 






Do not italicize course titles or put quotation marks around them.


Titles of 

books, computer games, movies, operas, plays, poems, albums, songs, radioand television programs, lectures, speeches


works of art



Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters-


Put quotation marks around all such works except the Bible and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material:

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” “GoneWith the Wind,” NBC’s “Today Show,” Encyclopedia Britannica



Translate a foreign title into English, unless the American public knows the work  by its foreign name: Rousseau’s “War,” not Rousseau’s “La Guerre.” BUT:Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”




Titles of 






Do not place these titles in quotation marks.-




in the name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.-




before names if listing several publications, some of which use


 as part of the name and some of which do not:

Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post and the New York Times


Titles of 




Lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc. when they indicate compassdirection:

The cold front is moving east.



Capitalize compass points when they designate U.S. regions:

 A storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward.



With names of countries, lowercase compass points unless they are part of a proper name or are used to designate a politically divided nation:

northern France, western United States, Northern Ireland 



With states and cities, lowercase compass points when they describe a section of astate or city:

western Massachusetts, southern Atlanta



Capitalize compass points when used in denoting widely known sections:

Southern California, the Lower East Side of Manhattan



Titles of 




Lowercase spring, summer, fall and winter, as well as derivatives like wintertimeunless part of a formal name:

the Winter Olympics


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Last modified: Tuesday, 25 October 2016, 11:57 AM