Style Guide publishes content that is of interest to book lovers.

This style guide provides a reference to common words and terms used at and information on style issues particular to the site. It is not intended to be a comprehensive manual of grammar and style.

About This Guide

One of our favorite websites is BuzzFeed, and they have generously provided their company style guide for everyone on the web:

Our perspective reflects that of the internet at large, which is why we hope other sites and organizations across the web will find these guidelines useful. This style guide will be updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant and responds accordingly to changes in language and common, casual usage.

We’ve taken the basic framework of the BuzzFeed style guide to build our own style guide. We want to acknowledge how much their guide has helped us in building our own, but we also want to caution writers to always refer to this one — the Style Guide — as their reference point. It has been uniquely edited and modified to meet our needs.

Dictionary’s preferred dictionary is Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the online edition ( In Webster’s, the first spelling of a word should generally be used (unless it appears in the word list below or is preferred by The Associated Press Stylebook).

Associated Press Stylebook

Our preferred style manual is the Associated Press Stylebook. Please consult Chicago Manual of Style for issues not covered by AP Stylebook as well as for more detailed information and discussion, where applicable. Any style point mentioned in this guide overrules those publications. editors have access to Associated Press Stylebook online and can answer questions. Please ask all questions in the Facebook HQ group before asking individual editors. Your questions, and the corresponding answers, may help other writers.

Word List

@replies, @mentions (on Twitter)
11th hour (but hyphenate as an adjective, e.g., “11th-hour negotiations”)
9/11 Acceptable in all references to describe the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. You can also use Sept. 11, but 9/11 is preferred.
4chan (use a lowercase C, and avoid using it to start a sentence when possible)
4th of July
A-list, B-list (etc…, when referring to an “A-list celeb”)
ABCs (note no apostrophe)
AC (for air-conditioning)
administration (lowercase “a” in political terms, e.g., “It has been something the administration has avoided” or “the Obama administration”)
adviser (not advisor)
AF (for “as fuck”)
afterparty (one word)
afterward (not afterwards)
agender (adj., describes someone who does not identify with a specific gender)
aka (UNLESS it starts a sentence, in which case AKA is acceptable — Aka just looks weird)
alcohol: Drink names are usually lowercase (exception: Bloody Mary)
Al Jazeera (not italicized or hyphenated)
a.m., p.m.
Amex (for American Express)
amendments: First Amendment, 19th Amendment (cap “A” when referencing specific amendments, lower case when not referencing specific amendments)
amirite (am I right?)
anti-vaxxer (a person who is against vaccinations, always hyphenated)
the Apple Store
Argentine (preferred to Argentinian as adjective meaning “of or relating to Argentina”)
A side (n.); A-side (adj.) (this is different from the word “aside”)
autocorrect (one word)
awards season / awards show (preferable to “award”)
baby daddy, baby mama (two words)
backstory (one word)
badmouth (v.)
batshit (one word)
beatboxer (n.), beatboxing (v.)
beatdown (n.)
best-seller, best-selling (New York Times best-seller list)
BFF (best friend forever)
bi-curious (hyphenated)
Big Banks (when used to refer to the collective of big banks as a proper noun, use lower case when using informally as in “I like big banks and I cannot lie”)
Big Pharma (when used to refer to the collective of large pharmaceutical companies)
Big Oil (when used to refer to the oil and gas industry)
bitchface (one word)
bitcoin (always lowercase)
Black (capitalize when referring to Black people, Black culture, Black history, Black man/woman, etc…; the word “Black” is used around the world to describe people who have “racial” features indicating African ancestry, via DiversityInc; LA chooses to be progressive and proactive on this issue, with a nod to Temple University journalism professor Lori L. Tharps and DiversityInc); contrary to AP, BuzzFeed in this usage)
BlackBerry, BlackBerrys
blonde (as adj. and n., all uses)
Bloody Mary, Bloody Marys
blow job (two words)
bocce ball
body slam (n.); body-slam (v.)
the Boston Tea Party
bougie (adj.), bougiest (from bourgeoisie)
boy band, boy-bander
bread crumbs (for the food); breadcrumbs (for the computer-y term)
breakdance (n. all forms), breakdancer
breastfeed, breastfeeding (one word, all forms)
the Bronze Age
brunette (as adj. and n., all uses)
Brussels sprouts (Brussels capitalized, sprouts not)
B side (n.); B-side (adj.)
bull dyke (n.); bull-dyke (adj.) — avoid, unless used in a direct quote
bused/busing/buses (for forms of “bus”)
butt-dial (all forms)
buzzer beater
BS, BS’d, BS’ing
bytes (measure digital storage capacity) — abbreviate kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes terabytes, etc… when used with a figure, with no space between the abbreviation and the figure (e.g., my iPhone is 64GB, a 128GB storage capacity)
Cabinet (cap when referring to the governmental advisers, don’t cap when referring to the place in your kitchen where you store food)
caj (for the abbreviation of “casual”)
camel toe (two words)
Cap’n Crunch
catfight (one word)
catfished (as a verb, lowercase, meaning to pretend to be someone you’re not online)
CBGB (not CBGB’s)
celebricat (for a celebrity feline)
celebridog (for a celebrity canine)
cell phone (but smartphone)
chatroom (one word)
cheese: What’s capped and what’s not? Consult Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, but here’s a list of some commonly referenced cheeses: Brie, cheddar, Comté, Feta, Fontina, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano
checkmark (one word in all forms)
childcare (all forms, contrary to BuzzFeed)
chile vs. chili: Use “chile powder” to refer to ground dried chile peppers (like ground ancho chiles or ground cayenne chile); use “chili powder” for the spice mix of cumin, paprika, and cayenne (and other stuff) that is often added to chili (the stew). (Note: British English generally uses “chilli.”)
chocolaty (not “chocolatey”)
Christian (avoid X-tian unless referencing a quote)
Christian Left (phrase used to describe Christians who identify as Democrats or progressives
circle jerk
civil rights movement
the Civil War
class-action lawsuit
climate change (preferred over global warming)
co. (as in “and company”)
Coca-Cola (always hyphenated, or use Coke)
cock (n.) slang used to refer to a man’s penis.
come (v.); cum (n.)
coming-out (n., adj.), come out (v.), came out (v.)
company names: Refer to a company as “it,” not “they.” Exception: Band names usually take a plural construction (“The band is on tour”; but “Arcade Fire are playing tonight.”). Omit “Co.,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” etc…
Con Edison; Con Ed is OK on second reference
congressional district (lowercase “c” and “d”)
copyedit (verb)
court cases: Italicize and use “v.” instead of “vs.” (Roe v. Wade)
cray-cray (as slang for “crazy”)
crop top
crow’s-feet (n.)
crowdfund (all forms)
crowdsource (all forms)
d-bag (short for douchebag)
dadbod (and similar constructions, one word for all forms)
the Dark Ages
Dark Web (Deep Web is OK too)
day care (two words)
Day-Glo (trademark, used for fluorescent materials or colors); dayglow (airglow seen during the day)
deadlift (one word, n. and v.)
deal breaker
decade-long (when used as an adjective, as in decade-long war. Use decades-long for plural, as in decades-long war)
Deep South (or The South, used only when referring to the southern states of the U.S.)
Democratic Party (cap “D”, cap “P”, but “democratic society”)
d*ck (n.) slang used to refer to a man’s penis.
die-hard (adj.), diehard (n.)
Disney Princess
diss (meaning to disrespect)
Division One, Two, etc… (for sports references)
DIY (not diy)
DJ (n., v.); DJ’ed, DJ’ing
“don’t ask, don’t tell” (lowercase, in quotes, with a comma for the military policy; in subsequent references, no quotes or abbreviate as DADT)
dos and don’ts
doughnut (but: Dunkin’ Donuts)
Down syndrome
doxx (not dox)
DREAMer (when referring to advocates of the DREAM Act)
drive-thru (as noun)
Dr.: Do not use the term “Dr.” to refer to non-medical doctors who hold a doctorate
drunk driving (noun); drunk-driving (adj); do not use “drunken driving”
drunk-text (hyphenate as a compound verb)
dumbass (noun); dumb-ass (adj.)
Earth (capped only when referring explicitly to the planet; “The biggest on Earth” but “a down-to-earth guy”)
[ed.:] – for ed notes in running text, cap “Ed.:” if it starts a sentence or is its own sentence
Ecstasy (cap “E” for the drug)
Election Day (but lowercase “election night”)
Electoral College
ebook, e-commerce, e-cigarette
emoji, emojis (lowercase)
etc… (with three periods)
ever closer (no hyphen)
F-you (as a noun)
Facebook (always capped, in any form)
Facebook-stalk (verb)
facedown (adj.)
facepalm (one word, all forms)
face-to-face (adj., adv.)
FaceTime (the Apple app), but face time (n.) in all other uses
faceup (adj.), face up (v.)
fan fiction, fanfic
farmers market (don’t use an apostrophe)
fast food (n.), fast-food (adj.)
fave, faved, faving (e.g., “I faved his tweet”)
fiancé (all instances, regardless of gender, copy and past if needed to get the accent mark)
first lady / first family (use First Lady if putting it before the name, as in First Lady Michelle Obama)
First World problem
fist-bump (v.); fist bump (n.)
flat iron (hair tool, n.); flat-iron (v.); Flatiron District
flatscreen (one word, both as n. and adj.)
Fox News (not FOX, and not just “Fox” alone, always Fox News or Fox Business News)
Frappuccino (capital F)
freshman 15
friend zone (n.); friend-zone (v.)
frontman / frontwoman
front-runner (contrary to BuzzFeed)
fundraiser, fundraising (contrary to AP and Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
Froot Loops (not Fruit Loops)
fuck (n.), but f*ck in headlines
fuckup (n.), fuck up (v.), fucked up (adj.)
Generation X, Gen X’er
GIF/GIF’d (as verb), GIFs, GIFable (pronounced “gif” with a hard G, NOT like the peanut butter, Jif)
GIF set
Girl Scout Cookie
girly (as a synonym for girlish); girlie (featuring scantily clad women)
global warming (can be used interchangeably with climate change, but prefer use of climate change unless it’s a direct quote)
god: Cap only if explicitly referring to or alluding to a deity as in “I trust in God”; lowercase otherwise, especially in common phrases (“Thank god she was OK,” “Oh god, he thought,” “And god knows we needed all the help we could get”)
goddamn (per Webster’s), goddamnit, goddamned
gonna (not “gunna”)
good Samaritan
Google+ (preferred over Google Plus)
google (v.); Google (n.), google-able, googled
Gov. (OK on first reference preceding governor’s name)
gray (not grey)
the Great Depression
ground zero (site of the 9/11 attacks, lowercase per AP)
grownup (for all forms, contrary to BuzzFeed)
guest star (n.), guest-star (v.)
gun control, gun rights (do not hyphenate, even if it’s modifying a noun — consider noun phrases)
haha (interjection); ha-ha (n.)
hair care (n.), hair-care (adj.)
hair dryer (but blow-dryer)
hair spray
half hour (not half-hour, unless as adj. “half-hour meeting”) (n.)
hand job
handover (noun)
Hanukkah (prefer to use Chanukah, but Hanukkah is acceptable depending on context and author)
happy-cry (all uses)
hardcore (all uses)
hardline (adj.)
HBIC (head bitch in charge)
headcount (one word –contrary to BuzzFeed –or head count, two words)
healthcare (contrary to BuzzFeed)
heartrending, gut-wrenching, nerve-racking: Via Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, heartrending denotes sadness, gut-wrenching is meant to describe something that causes “great mental or emotional pain,” and nerve-racking describes something causing someone to feel nervous.
higher-up (n.)
hippie (as in Woodstock, peace and love, and all that)
hippy (as in big-hipped)
hi-top fade
HIV positive (no hyphen, unless it’s modifying a word: e.g., “Are you HIV positive?” vs. “The HIV-positive patients”)
hmmm (always use three m’s)
ho (plural: hos), for the derogatory term, avoid unless a direct quote
homeowner, homeownership
homepage (also: homescreen, etc…)
hookup (n.), hook up (v.)
hotspot, Wi-Fi connection place; hot spot for other uses (i.e., “vacation hot spots”)
h/t (for hat tips, contrary to BuzzFeed)
humankind (preferred over “mankind”)
Huthi rebels
ice cream (noun and adjective; never hyphenate)
iced coffee (not “ice coffee”)
ID (for identification)
Ikea (not IKEA)
indie pop, indie rock (but hyphenate as modifiers)
Instagram, Instagramming, Instagrammed (capped in all forms)
internet (lowercase i)
Internet of Things
iPad Mini
Iraq War
IRL (in real life)
ISIS (not ISIL) for militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
IT (OK on first reference for “information technology”)
It girl / It couple
J.C. Penney
jeez (or “geez” — contrary to BuzzFeed)
jell (not “gel,” per AP when used as a verb)
Jell-O for the trademarked product; jello as the generic term
JK (just kidding)
judgy (not an actual word, but preferred to “judgey” in casual prose)
Juggalo / Juggalette
key chain (two words)
koozie (for beer/alcoholic drinks)
L.A. (for Los Angeles, LA for
ladies’ night
LARPer, LARPing (for Live-Action Role-Playing)
laundromat (lowercase)
left-swipe (hyphenate as verb)
less vs. fewer: Use less when referring to mass nouns, distance, or money; use fewer when referring to things that are quantifiable (e.g., “There was a less of a risk with that option,” “There were fewer people at Jane’s party than at Julie’s.”).
lifehack (one word, contrary to BuzzFeed)
• Use commas on either side for an interjection: “If you have, like, a really bad day…” (avoid unless a direct quote or to denote sarcasm)
• No quotation marks when used as a self-referential pseudo-quote: “I was like, we could never do that. And then we did.” (avoid unless a direct quote or to denote sarcasm)
• Don’t set off with commas when used as a substitute for “about”: “There were like five dudes standing there.” (avoid unless a direct quote or to denote sarcasm)
• likes (as in, Facebook) — lowercase, not set in quotes
• As a suffix: see Combining Forms section below
lil’ (for shorter form of “little”)
lip gloss / lip liner / lipstick
lip sync (n.); lip-synch (v.)
listicle: avoid, use “list” instead
Listserv/listserv: avoid unless referring to the trademarked software, use “email list” instead
live stream (n.); live-stream (v.)
locs (for abbreviated form of dreadlocks)
log in (v.); log-in (n.)
logline (brief summary of a TV program or film); log line (used on ships)
LOL-ing (LOL-ed)
lookalike (one word, all forms)
lower/upper Manhattan (lowercase L/U)
lowercase (one word, also uppercase)
MAC (the cosmetics brand)
mac ‘n’ cheese
maiden name: avoid, use “birth name” to refer to someone’s last name before marriage
make do (not make due)
makeout (noun, the act of making out)
makeup (when referring to cosmetics)
manila envelope
mansplain, mansplaining
Mason jar (this is a brand name, or you can use “canning jar”)
M.D./M.D.s (plural)
mecca (lowercase except when referring specifically to Mecca, Saudia Arabia — contrary to BuzzFeed)
meet-cute (noun)
meetup (n.), meet up (v.)
mega-church (LA added)
meme (avoid phrasing like “giant meme” or “viral meme,” which are redundant and often hyperbolic; OK as a verb, e.g., “Hurry, meme this cat picture!”)
men’s rights activists (no caps)
mic’d (as the verb meaning to attach a microphone)
middle-aged (not middle-age)
the Middle Ages
Midtown Manhattan/Midtown (capped)
mile-high club
millennials (you can also use “twentysomethings,” “twenty- and thirtysomethings,” or “young adults,” depending on what’s most appropriate/accurate)
Millennial Generation (but lowercase when referring to millennials)
misgender (verb for the use a pronoun or form of address that does not correctly reflect the gender with which a person identifies)
mmm hmm (always two m’s on this)
mohawk (lowercase as the hairstyle)
Molly (capitalized when referring to the drug)
mommy blogger: avoid, use “parent blogger” or “lifestyle blogger” instead
more than vs. over: OK to use interchangeably, but typically, use “more” with quantities and “over” with spatial relationships. (e.g., “There were more than 20 people packed into the apartment,” “The plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean.”)
MoMA (for Museum of Modern Art)
Muay Thai
Muggle (capped, as in a nonmagical person)
‘n’ (when using in place of “and”)
nap time
National Airport or Washington National Airport: preferred over Reagan National Airport
Native American (not American Indian)
Necco (not NECCO)
never mind
News Feed (when referring to Facebook’s News Feed; “newsfeed,” one word, in other references)
news gathering
New Wave (for film genre); new wave (for music genre)
nip slip
nonprofit (as noun and adjective)
No. 1 but “number-one” when it appears in a quote
now: When referring to time, do not use a comma (“I used to be completely terrified of heights. Now I’m generally OK with heights”). When used colloquially, use a comma (“Now, I’d never say that all cats are awesome, but I’ve never met one who wasn’t”).
the n-word (style thusly); in lyrics, etc…, write out as n***a
Obama administration
“O Canada” (for both the national anthem and expressions)
offscreen (adv. & adj.)
OG (no periods)
“oh man”/ “oh my god” / “oh no” all OK without comma after “Oh”
OK (not okay or O.K.)
ombré (copy and paste if you need to make sure you have the accent mark)
on-again, off-again
onboard: one word as a modifier (“onboard entertainment”), but “there was a baby on board”
on demand (lowercase, unless part of a service’s official title)
onscreen (adv. & adj.)
Other, Otherness: Capitalize to indicate use of the term as a category, especially when discussing race (e.g., in this post, “I think people make a clear distinction that [Lupita Nyong’o] is this exotic, fetishized Other — and therefore not ‘black’ like the rest of us.”).
PA (for personal amplifier)
page 1, page 2, etc… (for references to book pages if you’re writing about a book specifically, use AP numbering style otherwise)
page view
Paleo diet
pet sitter, pet-sit, pet-sitting
Ph.D. / Ph.D.s (plural)
phone calling (as a verb, no hyphen)
photobomb, videobomb
photo op
photo shoot
Photoshop (n., the program), photoshop (n., generically, an image that has been altered), photoshopped (adj.), photoshop (v.)
the Pill: capitalize when referring to birth control, but only when used as a noun and after “the” (e.g., “She was on the Pill to regulate her period.” / “There’s a new pill on the market with a lower dose of estrogen.”)
pins, pinners (on Pinterest) are always lowercase
pleaded (not “pled,” for past tense of “plead,” per AP)
Plexiglas for the trademarked product; plexiglass as the generic term
plus-one (preferred to +1 in running copy)
Pop art movement
pop star, rock star
Pope, pope, The Pope: If a title is being used as part of a name, it should be capitalized. If the title is being used as a common noun, there’s no need to capitalize. Pope John Paul II gave the sermon on Easter Sunday. The pope always gives the sermon on Easter Sunday. (Grammarly)
pour-over (as in the coffee)
primetime (one word, all forms)
pro tip (don’t hyphenate)
pseudo words: don’t hyphenate (e.g., “He rose from Obama stand-in to a pseudo strategist”)
publicly (not publically)
Pumpkin Spice Latte (capped when referring to the trademarked Starbucks beverage)
punch line (two words)
Quidditch (capped, as in the game on broomsticks)
quote-unquote (in speech)
“the reason” or “the reason that” preferred to “the reason why” in running text
Reddit (cap in running text), redditor (lowercase, for someone who uses Reddit)
red-light district
refriend / retweet / repin
religious right (term used to describe the group of people who are conservative and religious)
Republican National Convention but “Republican convention” if not spelling out entire name (RNC on second instance in article)
Republican Party (cap “P”)
ride-hail/ride-hailing (preferred over “ride-sharing” to describe services like Uber and Lyft)
ride-share/ride-sharing (use only when referring to a shared-ride service, like UberPool)
rearview (adj.)
right-click (hyphenate as both n. and v.)
right-swipe (hyphenate as verb)
RIP (no periods)
rock ‘n’ roll
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
room 1, room 202, etc… (lowercase “r” in reference to room numbers)
royal baby
the royal family (lowercase)
RT’d, RTs, RT (on Twitter)
Satan, satanic, satanism
SBD (silent but deadly)
screenshot (OK as noun and verb; screenshot as past tense & past participle)
screenshort (a screenshot of text shared on social media)
selfie (refers to a photo taken only by someone in said photo)
service member
set list
Sharia (“Sharia” is defined as “Islamic law,” and therefore “Sharia law” is unnecessary/redundant when discussing the general framework of Islamic religious law; the term “Sharia law” should be used to refer to a code of government-implemented criminal and civil laws that are claimed to be derived from Islamic teachings or a provision of such a code.)
Shiite, Shiites (not Shia, for the branch of Islam, but Shia is acceptable in quotes)
ship names: capped and italicized (USS Awesome)
’shippers (when referring to viewers who celebrate a fictional TV couple’s romantic arc)
sh*t list unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*tfaced unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*thole unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*tload unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*tshow unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*tstorm unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*t talk (n.), shit-talk (v.) unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sh*t ton (n.)  unless a direct quote, then remove asterisk
sideview (adj.)
slushie (n.)
smartphone (but cell phone)
snowblowed (for past tense of snowblow)
S.O. (for significant other)
Solo cup
soy milk
spell-check (n. and v.)
“spoke out” — avoid; “said” generally works just as well
spokesman, spokeswoman, or spokesperson (spokesperson is preferred but the other two are acceptable, per AP, contrary to BuzzFeed)
SpongeBob SquarePants
spray paint (n.), spray-paint (v.)
stand-up (comedy)
Stanky Legg (for dance move — two g’s! )
Starbucks drink sizes: tall, grande, venti, trenta (lowercase)
state representative (lowercase “s” and “r,” unless it precedes politician’s name, as in Rep. Paul Ryan)
the States (when referring to the United States)
Statehouse (always capped)
stepgrandmother/stepgrandfather (close up all “step” relationships unless next word starts with vowel, as in step-aunt)
stop-and-frisk (hyphenate in all uses)
straight-up (hyphenate as an adjective before a noun, verb, etc…)
struggle bus
student-athlete (also, student-performer, and the like)
sucker punch (n.); sucker-punch (v.)
super PAC
Sweet 16
tae kwon do
takeout (n.), take out (v.), takeaway (n.)
tase; tased; tasing (OK to use as a verb, contrary to AP)
tear gas (n.); teargas (v.)
TED Talk
TfL (for Transport for London)
the Gambia (not Gambia or The Gambia)
The One (as in destined romantic interest)
think piece
Third World: avoid; use “developing world/country” instead
’til (as abbreviation for “until”)
Time (not TIME) magazine
time-lapse (adj.), time lapse (n.)
timeline (one word, all uses)
timeshare (one word, all forms)
tl;dr (all lowercase, unless it starts a sentence, in which case, TL;DR)
the Today show (not Today Show)
Toys ‘R’ Us
TP’d (for “toilet-papered”)
trans/transgender (not transgendered)
tristate (one word, lowercase)
“try to” (not “try and,” as in, “I’m going to try to call her later.”)
T. rex
Twitter / tweeting / tweets
two-buck Chuck
type A, type B (as in personality)
ugly-cry (all uses)
U.S., U.K. (but USA)
unfriend (not de-friend)
up front (adv.); up-front (adj.); upfronts (n., refers to the meeting held by television executives)
updog (“Nothing, what’s up with you?”)
upvote/downvote (n. and v.)
Viner (i.e., someone who uses Vine)
Vine-ing (post a Vine/use Vine is preferred; cap in all uses)
vinyasa yoga
V-Day is OK for Valentine’s Day, but use sparingly
Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia (not French Vogue, Italian Vogue)
vs. (with a period, lowercase in list-y posts), versus (spelled out in news articles, longform stories); but v. for court cases Roe v. Wade
wack (adj.), not cool, effed up; whack (n., v.), a hard or resounding blow, to hit with a hard or resounding blow; also gangster (as in Godfather) slang, “to kill”
Wall Street (spell out, rather than “Wall St.,” in running text, unless talking about a specific address)
Wal-Mart Stores (when referring to the corporation); but “I went to Walmart” (when referring to the retail store)
“war on terror” on first reference, no quotation marks on subsequent references (same applies to similar phrases, e.g., “war on drugs”)
Washington, D.C. / the D.C. area / D.C. — but, in datelines, just “WASHINGTON”
watchlist or watch list, depending on context (contrary to BuzzFeed)
web / website / site
web comic
web forum
weightlifting (but weight lifter)
Western (cap for film or book genre, but lowercase for style of music, i.e., country music)
whistleblower (use instead of “leaker,” which tends to have a negative connotation)
white (adj. for referring to the race of Caucasian individuals, e.g. white woman; avoid, preferred use is Caucasian, e.g. Caucasian woman, Caucasian victim)
whitewater (adj., as in rafting, unless referring to the Clinton Whitewater scandal — LA standard)
whiz (noun)
who’s who
wide-awake (hyphenated)
World Wide Web
the Web (when referring to the internet in this context, contrary to AP)
writers room
www: Never use in a URL unless it you can’t access the site without it (or if the URL requires the odd www1. or www2.) — all very rare instances!
YA (for young adult)
YouTube, YouTuber
zeitgeist (lowercase, even though Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary “often” caps)
zip code (not ZIP code)
Ziploc for the trademarked product; ziplock as the generic term
z’s (aka sleep)

Abbreviations and Acronyms

In most cases, spell out on first reference and follow with the acronym in parentheses (if there are subsequent references): e.g., “body mass index (BMI).” Acronym can be used in subsequent uses in the same article.

Lowercase acronyms with six letters or more (Nasdaq); exception is NASCAR.

Possessive acronyms ending in “S” — like CBS or PBS — should take an ’s, not just an apostrophe (CBS’s sitcoms, PBS’s programs, etc…).

Do not use an apostrophe when denoting plural. Examples: SATs, TVs, VCRs. “Bob has two DUIs.”

Abbreviations should always be written in all caps, even if the abbreviation includes a preposition with fewer than four letters (e.g., GOT for Game of Thrones, DOD for Department of Defense, etc…).

Well-known acronyms and abbreviations do not need to be spelled out, even on first reference. Use your judgment, but here are some that don’t need to be spelled out:

CT (scan)

If the acronym is not listed here, spell it out first, and use the acronym in subsequent uses in the same article. Example: The Center for Disease Controls (CDC) issued a warning. When the CDC does this, people pay attention.


Celebrities (including artists, athletes, authors, and characters):

Alexander Skarsgård
Alyson Hannigan
Angelina Jolie Pitt
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Azealia Banks
Benedict Cumberbatch
Cara Delevingne
Cee Lo Green
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Colin Farrell
Courteney Cox
Cristin Milioti
Daryl Dixon
David Boreanaz
David Oyewolo
Domhnall Gleeson
Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Elisabeth Moss
Ellen DeGeneres
Gabourey Sidibe
George R.R. Martin
Ginnifer Goodwin
Giuliana Rancic
Hailee Steinfeld
Hayden Panettiere
Hilary Duff
H.P. Lovecraft
Iggy Azalea
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jake Gyllenhaal
J.J. Abrams
J.K. Rowling
J. Law (as abbreviation)
J.Lo (as abbreviation)
James Corden
Jason Segel
Jay Z (no hyphen)
Jennette McCurdy
Jodie Foster
Joe Manganiello
Julianna Margulies
K. Stew (as abbreviation)
Katharine McPhee
Khloé Kardashian (with accent)
Kim K (no period)
Kim Kardashian West (no hyphen)
Kobe (as in Bryant — OK to reference by first name)
Kristen Wiig
Lea Michele
LeBron (as in James — OK to reference by first name)
Lupita Nyong’o
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Mariska Hargitay
Matthew McConaughey
Meredith Vieira
Michelle Pfeiffer
Monica Geller
Nicki Minaj
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Oprah (OK to use just “Oprah” on first reference)
Pee-wee Herman
Peyton Manning
Quvenzhané Wallis
R. Patz (as abbreviation)
Ramsay Bolton
Ross Geller
Saoirse Ronan
Scarlett Johansson
Seth Rogen
Shia LaBeouf
Stephenie Meyer
Steve Carell
T. Swift (as abbreviation)
Taissa Farmiga
Weird Al Yankovic
Will Ferrell
Zach Galifianakis
Zooey Deschanel

Political and religious figures:

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi
Bashar al-Assad
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, use Fernández on subsequent references
Gehad el-Haddad
Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie
Hosni Mubarak
Kim Jong Un
Muammar al-Qaddafi
Mohamed Morsi
the pope; but Pope Francis: If a title is being used as part of a name, it should be capitalized. If the title is being used as a common noun, there’s no need to capitalize. Pope John Paul II gave the sermon on Easter Sunday. The pope always gives the sermon on Easter Sunday. (Grammarly)
Prophet Muhammad
Seif al-Islam

Regions, localities, and geographic features:

From the U.S. Government Publishing Office:

A descriptive term used to denote a definite region, locality, or geographic feature is a proper name and is therefore capitalized; also for temporary distinction a coined name of a region is capitalized.

the North Atlantic States
the Gulf States
the Central States
the Pacific Coast States
the Lake States
East North Central States
Eastern North Central States
Eastern United States
the West
the Midwest
the Middle West
the Far West
the Eastern Shore (Chesapeake Bay)
the Continental Divide
the Far East
Far Eastern
the East
Middle East
Middle Eastern
Mideastern (Asia)
Near East (Balkans, etc…)
the Promised Land
the Continent (continental Europe) Far Western States
the Western Hemisphere
the North Pole
the North and South Poles
the Temperate Zone
the Torrid Zone
the East Side
Lower East Side (sections of a city)
the Badlands (SD and NE)
Western Europe, Central Europe (political entities)
Deep South
the South (when referring to the southern region of the U.S.)
lower 48 (States)
the Northeast corridor

A descriptive term used to denote mere direction or position is not a proper name and is therefore not capitalized.

north; south; east; west
northerly; northern; northward
eastern; oriental; occidental
east Pennsylvania
southern California
northern Virginia
west Florida; but West Florida (1763–1819)
eastern region; western region
north-central region
east coast; eastern seaboard
northern Italy
southern France
but East Germany; West Germany (former political entities)

Book Article Formatting Guidelines

If you do a book list, find images of the book cover on Amazon, the publisher’s website, or a Google search. Be sure to credit each image in the caption, with the caption linked to the source.

Book lists are formatted in this order:

1. Short paragraph (or two) intro.


Have you ever wondered what books actress and legendary sex symbol Marilyn Monroe had on her bookshelf? Check out our list below!

2. The title of the book and author in H2 (Heading 2) — link the book title (not author) to the book on Amazon.


How to Travel Incognito by Ludwig Bemeimans

3. A short description of the book underneath its title/author, and/or why you think it’s awesome.


A light-hearted tale following a young Frenchman, along with the author as an additional character, as he puts himself in shenanigan after shenanigan traveling through France.

4. Below brief description, an image of the book that is exactly 600px wide. Length will vary depending on size/shape of the book cover image. Image source name in the caption of the image, with caption linked to original source.



Source: Amazon


5. Repeat with the rest of the books on your list.

6. Short closing paragraph or sentence (optional)


What a voracious reader Marilyn was. Do any of these books have a home on your bookshelf?

Articles that aren’t book lists:

If you do an article that’s not a book list, use lots of bullets and lists, short paragraphs, headers where appropriate. Whenever possible, include a video.

Other Formatting

Anonymous or anonymous sourcing policy (guidelines):
• Someone up the editorial chain at should be told who your anonymous source is, except in the most extreme cases. That may be your managing editor or editor-in-chief.
• Avoid using anonymous sources for negative quotes.
• Think about how the reader will perceive the use of an anonymous source — if a reader were to ask you, “Hey, why didn’t you use that guy’s name?” is your answer something they would understand?
• The number of anonymous sources isn’t as important as the knowledge those sources have.

• Bylines are used exclusively in entertainment/music list stories or other compilation pieces where there are two or more authors of different copy blurbs throughout. Do not include in any other stories unless they follow suit. Exception: At the end of first-person stories told to our editors. Use italics, full name, and period on a new line after last paragraph: As told to Jane Smith.
• On first reference, insert byline one space after body copy ends, formatted as follows (em dash, no space, full name, roman): —Jane Smith
• On second and subsequent references, format byline as follows (em dash, initials each followed by a period, no spaces): —J.S.
• If an editor who does not appear in a story’s byline contributed reporting to a story, add their credit at the end of the post as follows: With additional reporting by Jane Smith.

• See the end of this document for a more detailed guide to’s correction policy, but all corrections should go at the end of a post in the following format when called for:
CORRECTION: The editor of is Tiffany Willis. An earlier version of this post misstated her name.
• Don’t add a correction without first running the proposed correction by the managing editor.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of people who died when a regional air carrier crashed in upstate New York in February 2009. The correct figure was 50.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misattributed a quote to Masha Lipman, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s society and regions program.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated the TSA budget for FY 2013. The correct figure is $7.55 billion.

Headlines, deks, and subheadings (list article formatting here):
• Initial-cap every word in headlines, with no end punctuation (unless it is a question mark, or, very rarely, exclamation).
• Treat deks (which we rarely use) as sentences with normal punctuation, and use roman type.
• Subheadings and lists: Use common sense re: capitalization. Err on the side of consistency. If most sentences are full sentences, capitalize the first word only, use end punctuation, and treat as a normal sentence for all subheds in list. If list reads more like titles of images/things (e.g., “Grumpy Cat,” “This Guy,” “Your Brother,” recipe names), initial-cap each word (except for prepositions, articles, conjunctions that are three letters or fewer — and, at, but, for, of, etc…) and do not use end punctuation. REMINDER: In headlines/subheadings with initial-capped words, always cap “Is,” which, although a puny word, is indeed a verb!
• In lists, please retain the “The” in superlative headlines (e.g., “The 30 Most Inspiring Films,” “The 25 Best GIFs of 2012”).

• Use periods and no spaces when referring to someone’s initials in running copy (e.g., “We call him J.B. back home”); the only exception to this is in Q&As (see below), when initials precede colons.

• When manually adding hyperlinks, please double-check that the quotes in your links are “dumb,” or straight, quotes and not “smart,” or curly, quotes. Smart quotes will cause the links to be broken; especially double-check that your links work when you have copied and pasted your text from a Word or Google Docs document, which tend to retain all smart quotes, even in hyperlinks.

• When formatting, bold the question the interviewer/writer asks (without identification of “” or editor’s name as interviewer); answers by interviewee are not bolded, but the interviewee’s name is. Use a line space between every question and answer (and answer and answer, if more than one person is being interviewed).
• Name(s) of the interviewee(s) is/are bolded. On first reference, spell out entire name of interviewee; on second reference, use initials (capped, no periods). Exception: If there are more than two individuals being interviewed, we may consider identifying interviewees on second reference by either their first or last names, if that lends clarity (especially, for example, if there is dialogue among the interviewees where they refer to one another by their first names). Just use good judgment.
• Don’t italicize the intro; add an extra space between the intro and the first question if the Q&A section does not begin in a separate text box.
• Set off indication of laughing and such reactions as follows: [laughs]

Q&A example:
Why are you so cool?

Justin Bieber: Because I wear really fashion-forward pants.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

JB: Be fun and wear cool pants, I guess. [laughs]

What’s next for you?

JB: Finding even more fashion-forward pants to wear.

• If you’re using an em dash for attribution, one space before the dash, no space after. “Quote.” —Guy Who Said Quote
• Use [sic] after a word to indicate a misspelling in written quoted material.

Redacted Words/Phrases:
• Style using the word “redacted” in all caps and in brackets: e.g., “If you have not done so already, [REDACTED] can contact [REDACTED], who may have a certain level of experience with these people.”

• There are several instances that warrant adding an update to a post. If a story has not been published as breaking news and has been written through as one article, for example, an update may be added to alert the reader that new information — e.g., an additional comment from a source — has been added since the post was initially published. (Example here.) An update may also be added to alert the reader that an image has been removed or replaced since a post was initially published. (Example here.)
• Typically an update should be added to the bottom of a post.
• To indicate that a post has been updated or is developing in the dek of a story, please do so in plain text. Do not italicize, bold, or place the “Update” or “Developing” in all caps. (Example here.)
• Do not add an update to correct inaccurate information that may have been initially published; if something has been corrected, issue a correction. (See “Corrections” section.)
• If a news story is still developing, add a note at the bottom of the story: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation Guidelines

• Generally do not use spaces on either side of ampersands in constructions like Q&A, R&B, etc…

• Generally, all quotes should have attribution, even if it is obvious who is speaking. A colon after the sentence that directly precedes a quote is fine; otherwise, aim for attribution within or after the first sentence of a quote. “Says” and “said” are preferred verbs for attribution; avoid “she notes,” “he laughs,” “they contend,” etc… “Explain” is also frequently misused; is the person quoted really explaining something?
• In posts with anecdotes by several different people, quotation marks around the blurb are not necessary. Just add a “—FirstName LastName” (or “—Anonymous”) after the anecdote.

• Initial-cap the names of awards given at official awards shows in all instances (e.g., Best Documentary, Best Gut-Wrenching Performance).
• Lowercase the name of an award, however, when not referring to it by its full official name (e.g., “Outstanding Comedy Series,” but “best comedy”).

• Capitalize words that are “often” or “usually” capped per Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
• Never begin a sentence with a lowercase letter, UNLESS it’s a very well-known brand (like iPad or eBay), though where possible, avoid the awkwardness of starting a sentence with a lowercase letter.
• Slashes are OK in specific contexts (like “and/or”), but use hyphens for basic compounds and double titles like “singer-songwriter” (not “singer/songwriter”) or “writer-director.”
• With directionals: the Northeast, but southeast Brooklyn. Lowercase north, south, east, west, unless using them to refer to particular regions (the South, the Western Hemisphere, Southern California, East Africa, West Africa — BUT eastern Europe, eastern/western Ukraine).
• Product and brand names should be initial-capped, unless that name is made of initials (e.g., Gap, Ikea, AT&T; exception: MAC).
• Product names in all lowercase letters should be capitalized (e.g., iPod Nano, not iPod nano).
• Intercaps that delineate new words are OK: BlackBerry, eBay, iPod, NyQuil, etc… Intercaps that are just graphic treatments are not: Prana, not prAna.


Avoid phrases such as “at the end of the day,” “dollars for donuts,” “when all is said and done,” “all talk and no action,” “nail in the coffin,” etc…Here is a list of common cliches to “avoid like the plague.”

Combining forms:
• Closing up or hyphenating combining forms generally depends on readability and whether closing up a word changes its meaning. Follow the guidelines below, and consult Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in most cases:
anti- (typically closed up, unless a proper noun or vowel follows or it interferes with readability: antiwrinkle, anti-imperialist; EXCEPTIONS: anti-gay, anti-labor, anti-war)
-ass (typically hyphenated: crazy-ass party, kick-ass; EXCEPTION: badass)
-bait (typically closed up: clickbait, linkbait, tweetbait)
butt- (typically closed up: buttcrack, buttface, butthead)
co- (hyphenate: co-facilitate, co-worker)
cyber- (closed up unless it affects readability: cyberwarfare, cyberbullying, cybersecurity, etc… but Cyber Monday)
-esque (closed up/hyphens depend on readability: yolo-esque, Kafkaesque)
-fest (most combining forms should be closed up: lovefest, puppyfest, etc…)
-fuck (usually closed up: clusterfuck, bumblefuck)
-goer (hyphenate only if readability is an issue: beachgoer, theatergoer, fairgoer, filmgoer)
-head (close up [metalhead, pothead] unless it interferes with readability [hip-hop-head, Phish-head])
hyper- (close up, per Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
-ian (usually closed up — use your judgment re: readability)
-ish (again, usually closed up, but use your judgment: New Yorkish)
-less (hyphenate only if not found in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: childless, witless, audience-less, pants-less)
-like (usually closed up unless doing so makes the word unreadable; use Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and good judgment)
-maker (look up: decision-maker, deal-maker, but policymaker, lawmaker)
-mate (close up combining form: tourmates, cellmates)
mega- (hyphenate, per Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
mid- (close up most, check Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: mid–1950s, mid-Atlantic, but midterm, midday)
mini- (generally hyphenate, unless closed up in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: mini-cupcakes, but miniseries)
multi- (follow Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
non- (close up “non-” adjectives, unless readability is an issue)
-plus (preferable to +, as in “He was 20-plus years old.”)
pre- (generally close up; follow Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
re- (close up unless doing so makes a word unreadable or changes its meaning, and hyphenate if a word that starts with “re-” or “e” follows: re-create, re-elect, reimagine, re-read)
-seeker (job seeker, asylum-seeker, thrill-seeker)
self- (hyphenate: self-absorbed)
-shaming (hyphenate: slut-shaming, fat-shaming, body-shaming)
-size/-sized: generally use “-sized” to describe the size of something (“a nickel-sized spider”); “-size” to describe something’s function or utility (“child-size furniture”); also, bite-size, oversize, plus-size
super- (generally hyphenate if it creates a compound modifier, otherwise two words: “a super-long line,” but “that line is super long”)
then- phrases (hyphenate: “her then-boyfriend,” “then-Sen. Obama”)
-turned phrases (do not hyphenate, unless it comes before a person’s name: “the actor turned lawyer”; “Actor-turned-lawyer John Smith…”)
-ward (not -wards, no “s”: afterward, backward, toward, forward)
-wear (close up unless doing so makes a word unreadable: businesswear, streetwear, workwear)
über- (hyphenate and use umlaut: über-cool)
-worthy combining form (one word; use hyphen only if readability is an issue: newsworthy, Oscarworthy, lustworthy, law-worthy)

• A full sentence should always precede a colon.
• Complete sentences following a colon are capped; incomplete sentences following a colon are not capped.
• In U.S. stories, avoid using colons to introduce quotes that are less than two sentences long.

• uses the Oxford Comma, also known as the serial comma: e.g., “We picked up cyan, magenta, yellow, and black balloons for the party.”
• With “too”:
– When “too” is used in the sense of “in addition,” use a comma (e.g., “I ate a slice of pie and three cookies, too.”), but omit the comma when “too” refers to the subject of the sentence (e.g., “Oh, you like cats? I like cats too.”).
– Also use commas with “too” when you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought (e.g., per Chicago Manual of Style, “He didn’t know at first what hit him, but then, too, he hadn’t ever walked in a field strewn with garden rakes.”).
– Use a comma after “too” if it starts a sentence — used in the sense of “also” — though avoid this when possible, as it can look awkward.
• No commas before “Jr.” or “Sr.” in names.
• To create a list within a sentence, use numbers or lowercase letters and right-facing parenthesis and separate items with a comma (e.g., When I grow up, I want to own a farm that has a) acres and acres of land, b) goats of all shapes and sizes, and c) a pack of huskies for dogsledding).
• Do not use a comma between words repeated for emphasis: e.g., “It’s what makes her her” (not “It’s what makes her, her”).

Creative Commons/Flickr/Wikimedia Image Crediting:
Featured image by (PERSON’S NAME HERE WITH NAME LINKED TO SOURCE), available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.


Featured image by DonkeyHotey, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

• This statement should be the last line of text in every article.
• If the same image is used in the article, this text should appear in the caption area, linking both to the original photo and the CC License.

The words “Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial” should be hyperlinked to this page:

Read more here and at the Creative Commons site.

From the Chicago Manual of Style Online:

Q. What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?

A. I will try to condense the various bits of information scattered throughout CMOS. First of all, there are three lengths of what are all more or less dashes: hyphen (-), en dash (–), and em dash (—). I frame it this way because the work they do is roughly related to their length (though I don’t think CMOS puts it this way outright).

The hyphen connects two things that are intimately related, usually words that function together as a single concept or work together as a joint modifier (e.g., tie-in, toll-free call, two-thirds).

The en dash connects things that are related to each other by distance, as in the May–September issue of a magazine; it’s not a May-September issue, because June, July, and August are also ostensibly included in this range. And in fact en dashes specify any kind of range, which is why they properly appear in indexes when a range of pages is cited (e.g., 147–48). En dashes are also used to connect a prefix to a proper open compound: for example, pre–World War II. In that example, “pre” is connected to the open compound “World War II” and therefore has to do a little extra work (to bridge the space between the two words it modifies—space that cannot be besmirched by hyphens because “World War II” is a proper noun). Now, that is a rather fussy use of the en dash that many people ignore, preferring the hyphen.

The em dash has several uses. It allows, in a manner similar to parentheses, an additional thought to be added within a sentence by sort of breaking away from that sentence—as I’ve done here. Its use or misuse for this purpose is a matter of taste, and subject to the effect on the writer’s or reader’s “ear.” Em dashes also substitute for something missing. For example, in a bibliographic list, rather than repeating the same author over and over again, three consecutive em dashes (also known as a 3-em dash) stand in for the author’s name. In interrupted speech, one or two em dashes may be used: “I wasn’t trying to imply——” “Then just what were you trying to do?” Also, the em dash may serve as a sort of bullet point, as in this to-do list:

—wash the car

—walk the dog

—attempt to explain em and en dashes

Read in more detail on the dash, hyphen, em dash, and en dash below.

• For ellipses, use three dots in a row, no spaces between each dot: …
• If ellipses are used to indicate a mid-sentence pause, don’t use a space on either side. (e.g., “We could go there…or not.”)
• If ellipses are used to indicate a trailing off in thought or a long pause before a full sentence, insert a space before the next sentence. (e.g., “I don’t know… Certainly, I don’t think it will be good.”)
• If ellipses are used after a full sentence to indicate omission of a full sentence or more (as in a quote), use a period followed by a space before inserting ellipses. (e.g., “We moved to New Orleans in 2010. … By 2012, we were back in New York.”)
• If ellipses are used to indicate omission of words rather than a full sentence or are inserted mid-sentence, use a space on either side of the ellipses. (e.g., “I adopted a cat yesterday … and he’s already made himself right at home.”)
• When inserting an ellipsis in a written quote, use brackets to indicate they were added by an editor and not part of the original text.
• Do NOT overuse ellipses to trail off a sentence. They “sound” whiny and lose effectiveness when overused.
• More on ellipses here.

Em dash:
The em-dash is the longer version of the dash, named em-dash as it should be the same length as the letter “m.” Similarly to the en-dash, the em-dash should only be used to separate a sentence when there is an interruption that breaks the flow. (DashHyphen)

• Create the em dash with keystroke option + shift + hyphen (on Macs).
• The em-dash can be created on the PC by using holding down the ALT key and typing 0151 on the numeric keypad. Only the numbers on the right hand keypad do this, not the numbers above the letters. You can also simulate the em dash by pressing the hyphen key twice.
• Use spaces on either side of the em dash. And the em-dash should never have spaces before or after it. See the conflict there? It’s controversial. For our purposes, put spaces on either side of the em dash.
• Try to avoid use of the em dash when parentheses, commas, or a semicolon would work just as well.


en-dash: By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity – another man’s, I mean.

em-dash: By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity—another man’s, I mean.

On the em dash and the en dash dilemma, use whichever one you like, as long as it’s used correctly. From DashHyphen: The en-dash has become more popular over the years, where traditionally the em-dash was the most common. People tend to prefer the en-dash is it looks cleaner and less heavy in comparison to the em-dash. Read more here.

• Put emojis outside end punctuation, not inside.

En dash:
Like the em-dash, the en-dash is used to separate a sentence where there is an interruption that disrupts the flow. The en-dash is the shorter version of the dash, named en-dash as it should be the same length as the letter “n.”

• Create the en dash with keystroke option + hyphen (on Macs).
• On a PC, you can create an en-dash by holding down the ALT key and entering 0150 on the numeric keypad. Please note – this only works using the numbers on the numeric keypad on the right of your keyboard, not with the number keys above the letters. (via DashHyphen)
• Use the en dash (not hyphen) in sports scores (e.g., 5–3), date ranges (e.g., 1999–2005), and compound noun constructions such as “the New York–New Jersey border.”
• Use the en dash for clarity when using open compound nouns as modifiers (e.g., “a cool tennis shoe–rain boot hybrid,” “a New York–born man,” “a non–high school friend”).
• Via DashHyphen, an en-dash should have a space on either side. The opposite applies to the em-dash, which should have no spacing on either side. (Contrary to BuzzFeed)


en-dash: By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity – another man’s, I mean.

en-dash:  All politicians desire respect and power – some even achieve it – but it is easier said than done.

em-dash: By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity—another man’s, I mean.

On the em dash and the en dash dilemma, use whichever one you like, as long as it’s used correctly. From DashHyphen: The en-dash has become more popular over the years, where traditionally the em-dash was the most common. People tend to prefer the en-dash is it looks cleaner and less heavy in comparison to the em-dash. Read more here.

Exclamation point (from AP)
EMPHATIC EXPRESSIONS: Use the mark to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion.

AVOID OVERUSE: Use a comma after mild interjections. End mildly exclamatory sentences with a period.

PLACEMENT WITH QUOTES: Place the mark inside quotation marks when it is part of the quoted material: “How wonderful!” he exclaimed. “Never!” she shouted.
Place the mark outside quotation marks when it is not part of the quoted material: I hated reading Spenser’s “Faerie Queene”!
MISCELLANEOUS: Do not use a comma or a period after the exclamation mark:
Wrong: “Halt!”, the corporal cried.
Right: “Halt!” the corporal cried.

• Capitalize, set in roman, no quotes: e.g., Beliebers, the Beyhive, Deadheads, Little Monsters.

Fashion Credits:
• Use the following format for fashion/product credits (going from the top down, left to right; main apparel first, followed by accessories; combining item credits if they are made by the same brand/designer):
Guess blouse and sequin shorts, Falke leggings, Julie Voss cross necklaces, Gemma Simone chandelier necklace, Clara Kasavina oval motif necklace, Pluma cuff (left), Push by Pushmataaha earrings and cuff (right), Christian Siriano shoes.

• NEVER use a hyphen after an adverb — aka most “-ly” words (e.g., “It was a poorly written book,” NOT “poorly-written”).
• Do use hyphens for clarity in the following situations (per Chicago Manual of Style):
When compound modifiers such as “open-mouthed” or “full-length” precede a noun, hyphenation usually lends clarity. With the exception of proper nouns (such as “United States”) and compounds formed by an adverb ending in “ly” plus an adjective, it is never incorrect to hyphenate adjectival compounds before a noun (e.g., “A First-Rate Movie,” “Five-Alarm Chili”).
• Hyphens are usually not used when a phrase is made up entirely of nouns (e.g., “video game console,” “crime scene cleanup,” “health care reform,” “toilet paper roll”), especially when the modifying compound noun can be found in the dictionary.
• When adding a prefix before a compound adjective, use hyphens between all components (e.g., “a non-habit-forming drug”) — but in extreme cases it’s better to reword the sentence to avoid awkward punctuation.
• In a list where an element of the modifying phrase is not repeated, use a suspended hyphen, like so: “a university-owned and -operated bookstore”; “second-, third-, and fourth-grade teachers.”
• When a modifying phrase is longer than a couple of words, quotation marks can sometimes be easier to read than a ton of hyphens (e.g., He heaved a “back to the drawing board” sigh).
• When a hyphenated compound noun is part of a modifying phrase, use an en dash after the hyphenated noun (e.g., “an editor-in-chief–approved plan”).
• Note that other adverbs besides ones ending in “-ly” don’t need hyphens (“the almost empty glass,” “an often misunderstood rule,” “a very strong beer,” etc…) unless their meaning is ambiguous (e.g., “a little-regarded athlete,” “a still-unknown number,” “a well-known presenter”).
• Hyphens never have spaces on either side.

Important hyphen use, via DashHyphen:

Hyphenating is very important when using compound modifiers. A compound modifier is a compound word (a word made up of two or more words joined together) that modifies a noun. For example:

He was wearing a light-blue scarf.
He was wearing a light blue scarf.

Without the hyphen, then the reader might think that the scarf itself weighed less than normal. Hyphenation is very important when using a compound word to modify a noun.

More on hyphens here.

“The Internet”: Avoid in headlines
• Avoid “The Internet Did ____” / “All Of The Internet” “Everyone On The Internet” as a frame/device in headlines.
• Also avoid using “…broke the internet” in both headlines and in running copy; instead opt for more descriptive, specific language.

Italics & Quotation Marks:
AP doesn’t use italics in news stories. has adopted the BuzzFeed style guide (which leans more towards the Chicago Manual of Style) for composition titles, as lined out below.

• Use italics for the names of movies, television shows, newspapers, magazines, books, plays, art exhibitions/collections, web series, podcasts, radio programs, video games (including console, browser, and arcade; apps, however, should be roman, capped); use quotations for names of movie/play scenes, television episodes, articles, chapters, individual pieces of art, and names of studies.
• Italicize titles of films, but use roman type for franchises in the general sense/when they act as a descriptor: e.g., “He has tons of Star Wars memorabilia”; “I can’t wait to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens”; “I got a Fast & Furious tattoo.” Italicize franchise names, however, when referring to a media series: e.g., “the Saw movies,” “the Song of Ice and Fire books”; “What’s your favorite Fast & Furious movie?”
• Board games and card games should be capitalized.
• Still unsure? Here’s a handy cheat sheet for when to italicize vs. use quotes.
• Normally, titles that should be italicized (movie names, TV shows, books, etc…) are set off with quotes in headlines (since they cannot be italicized in headline). DO NOT, however, put newspaper or magazine titles in quotes in headlines — because it just looks weird! Treat with no special punctuation (e.g., Check Out What Vanity Fair Has To Say; Meet The New York Times Editor Who Rules).
• When using binomial nomenclature, italicize both genus (capitalized) and species (lowercase) names (e.g., Homo sapiens).
• For foreign words: If a word or phrase is unfamiliar to an English-speaking audience and it doesn’t appear in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, set in italics; use good judgment (e.g., no need to italicize terms as commonplace as “muy bueno” or “hola”). In identity posts and other stories by and targeted to people who speak a non-English language, italics are generally unnecessary for foreign words.

Job titles:
• Standard practice in entertainment coverage is never to capitalize a job title except when it starts a sentence. The same goes for every position on a movie set: “director Martin Scorcese,” “screenwriter Tina Fey,” etc… Executives within the studios, however, follow the standard AP rules for title capitalization.
• Generally, use gender-neutral job titles unless gender is relevant to the story (e.g., “salesperson” or “sales rep” rather than “salesman,” “actor” rather than “actress,” “lawmaker” or “Rep.” (Rep. is capitalized before a person’s name) rather than “congressman/congresswoman,” “chair” rather than “chairman/chairwoman,” “spokesperson” or “representative,” if applicable, preferred over “spokesman/spokeswoman”).
• When introducing experts, spell out all titles/specializations that aren’t commonly recognized medical degrees (e.g., spell out “registered dietitian” rather than using “R.D.”; keep Ph.D., M.D., M.S.).

Letters (of the alphabet):
• Individual letters and combinations of letters are not usually set in quotes. Exception: Instances relating to spelling, e.g., “Her name is JoAnne with a capital ‘A.’”
• Letters that are used to represent shape are capitalized and not set in quotes: an L-shaped couch.
• Letters used to denote grades are capitalized and roman: “If Yolo Studies were a class, I’d totally get an A.” / “I had straight A’s up until I started doing krokodil.”
• Add an apostrophe + “s” to pluralize letters: “the four F’s (famous people, festivals, fashion, and food)”
• Add an “s” to pluralize all abbreviations: DVDs, CDs, Ph.D.s

• In news stories, use surnames on second reference (except for very young people); if there is a compelling reason to refer to a subject on first-name basis, that may be acceptable. If two or more people in the same story have the same surname, generally refer to all by their first name on second reference.
• Per AP: Chinese names generally place surnames first and then given names: e.g., Deng Xiaoping. Second reference should be the family name, Deng in this case. For more, AP has an entry dedicated to Chinese naming conventions.

• Use one space between a period and the next sentence. Never two.

Photo captions:
• Use parentheses to indicate directional: e.g., President Obama (center) meets with Gov. Chris Christie (right). If listing several names in a bigger group pictured, begin caption with “From left:” (rather than “From left to right:”).
• Credits should read: Photographer’s Name / Agency
• Do not italicize photo captions or set in smaller text (sometimes we’ll make an exception to this, like in this post, where a normal-size caption font would blend in with the body copy and look distracting).
• Photo captions that are full sentences or sentence fragments should be in sentence case with end punctuation; captions that are just one person’s name should not take a period: e.g., “President Barack Obama” but “Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
• For dates in photo captions (especially applicable to breaking news), only add the year if the photo was take in a year other than the present one. Use specific dates (“Feb. 26”) rather than days of the week (“on Wednesday”).
• When a thumbnail image does not appear in a story, add its photo credit to the bottom of the post in it italics, like this: Featured image via Facebook (or wherever — use these other guidelines for this attribution)
• For Creative Commons/Flickr/Wikimedia Image Crediting, see section above.

Use ‘s for all singular possessive nouns. Exceptions:
• Corporation or brand names that are pluralized (e.g., General Motors’)
• Singular proper names ending in “s”: Use a single apostrophe when the name ends with a “z” sound (e.g., Achilles’ heel, Dickens’ novels, Euripides’ dramas, Hercules’ labors, Socrates’ life, Tennessee Williams’ plays), and apostrophe + s when it ends with an “s” sound (e.g. Chris’s book, Jesus’s life, Kansas’s schools).
• Personal pronouns never take apostrophes.
• Per AP: Words ending with an “ess” sound before “sake” take an apostrophe but no “s”: For goodness’ sake; for appearance’ sake; but for Pete’s sake.
• When a proper noun is already plural, the usual rule for possessives applies: The Smiths‘, Rolling Stones’.
• Do not use an apostrophe when a word is primarily descriptive rather than possessive: e.g., homeowners association, kids department, teachers college, writers room.

• Non-offensive, “casual-use” profanity in cases where it’s warranted by the tone or subject matter of a post (e.g., “She shit-talked her ex,” “He royally fucked up,” etc…) should be spelled out in running copy as well as in heds and deks. More sensitive words, like the c-word or n-word, should generally be styled thusly; if they appear in a quote, use asterisks except for the first and last letters. Exceptions as they appear individually in this guide.

• “They” is acceptable as a singular stand-in when it makes a sentence read more smoothly (e.g., “If someone is knocking at your door and you don’t know who they are…”). It should also used be used when it is a person’s preferred pronoun. (See LGBT section.) Alternative is a construction like “s/he” or “she or he” or his/hers or he/she

Publication titles:
• Generally, do not capitalize and italicize “the” in print/web publication names (e.g., New York Times, not The New York Times). Exceptions to this include The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter (which abbreviates its title as THR), and publications with only one word after “the”: The Sun, The Guardian, etc…

• Use only between two complete sentences or in lists with internal commas (e.g., “We visited Buffalo, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Lima, Ohio”).

• Acceptable in descriptive phrases such as 24/7 or 9/11, but otherwise confine its use to special situations, as with fractions or denoting the ends of a line in quoted poetry.
• Unique usage to LA: you can use his/her, and/or
• Use hyphens for basic compounds and double titles like “singer-songwriter” (not “singer/songwriter”) or “writer-director.”

• Thoughts are set off with a comma, initial capped, and italicized. (I thought, What if I were to move to Switzerland?)

Television shows:
• Style seasons/episodes as follows: In Season 1, Episode 1 of _Homeland_…

• When using tildes for ~whimsical~ emphasis, put punctuation on the outside of the ending tilde. When a tilde is needed for a foreign word (e.g. español), either copy/paste from the web or follow the instructions on this website.

University names:
• Format university names with more than one location as follows: University of California, Berkeley, on first reference; UC Berkeley on subsequent references.
• Abbreviate universities as UPenn, UConn, etc…

• Italicize names of blogs and news websites (Huffington Post, Jezebel, etc…) or any news-oriented site with daily dated entries (exception: BuzzFeed). Do not italicize names of news organizations, however, like Associated Press and Reuters.
• When writing out URLs, don’t adhere to vanity capping (e.g.,, NOT

Words as words:
• Use roman type in quotes. “He used the word ‘chillax’ way too often.”
• For profanity: “the c-word,” “the n-word,” etc…


• Spell out states names in copy when a city precedes it: e.g., “This happened in Boca Raton, Florida.”
• L.A. is acceptable for Los Angeles on first reference, but other city abbreviations (NYC, SF, D.C.) should not be used on first reference in body copy. Note that L.A. is not used as an abbreviation of Abbreviate, if you do so, as LA with no periods.
• Descriptions of a Long Island background should include a specific town, e.g., “He’s from Manhasset, New York” (not “He’s from Long Island, New York”). As an adjective, “Long Island” can stand alone without “New York” — e.g., “The Long Island singer recorded her first album at the age of 18.”
• Please use datelines in all original reported news stories, spelling out both the city and state or country name in full. Our style is as follows:
EL PASO, Texas — Running copy lorem ipsum etc etc etc
• See below for U.S. city names that are well-known enough to stand alone without a state, both in datelines and running text (supplementing the list in AP). (Note: Just use “Washington” for D.C. datelines.) If a U.S. city name is NOT on this list, always include the state when referring to it.

Stand alone without a state:

Atlantic City
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
Miami (and Miami Beach)
New Orleans
New York
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.

Other prominent smaller U.S. regions may not require a state to ID them, but the context must be considered. These include:

Beverly Hills
Big Sur
Cape Cod
Des Moines
Fort Lauderdale
the Hamptons
Martha’s Vineyard
New York’s five boroughs (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island)
Santa Fe
Santa Monica
Silicon Valley
Soho (NYC and London)
South Beach
Times Square

Foreign cities and regions that can stand alone (for Canadian provinces, adding the province name after a city is sufficient — “Montréal, Quebec,” not “Montréal, Quebec, Canada”):

Buenos Aires
Hong Kong
Mexico City
Monte Carlo
Panama City
Rio de Janeiro
St. Petersburg
Tel Aviv
Vatican City

U.S. state abbreviations

Spell out Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Abbreviate others as listed in this guide under the full name of each state. Use Hawaii on all cities outside Honolulu. Specify the island in the text if needed.

Note: AP Style state abbreviations differ from their corresponding US Postal Service abbreviations, are in parentheses. Source: AP

IMPORTANT: As of May, 2014, AP began spelling out state names in the body of stories. We still use abbreviations in datelines, photo captions, lists, etc…Continue to use AP abbreviations in short-form listings of party affiliation: D-Ala., R-Mont. See party affiliation entry for details.

Ala. (AL) — for Alabama
Alaska (AK) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Ariz. (AZ) — for Arizona
Ark. (AR) — for Arkansas
Calif. (CA) — for California
Colo. (CO) — for Colorado
Conn. (CT) — for Connecticut
Del. (DE) — for Delaware
Fla. (FL) — for Florida
Ga. (GA) — for Georgia
Hawaii (HI) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Idaho (ID) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Ill. (IL) — for Illinois
Ind. (IN) — for Indiana
Iowa (IA) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Kan. (KS) — for Kansas
Ky. (KY) — for Kentucky
La. (LA) — for Louisiana
Maine (ME) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Md. (MD) — for Maryland
Mass. (MA) — for Massachusetts
Mich (MI) — for Michigan
Minn. (MN) — for Minnesota
Miss. (MS) — for Mississippi
Mo. (MO) — for Missouri
Mont. (MT) — for Montana
Neb. (NE) — for Nebraska
Nev. (NV) — for Nevada
N.H. (NH) — for New Hampshire
N.J. (NJ) — for New Jersey
N.M. (NM) — for New Mexico
N.Y. (NY) — for New York
N.C. (NC) — for North Carolina
N.D. (ND) — for North Dakota
Ohio (OH) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Okla. (OK) — for Oklahoma
Ore. (OR) — for Oregon
Pa. (PA) — for Pennsylvania
R.I. (RI) — for Rhode Island
S.C. (SC) — for South Carolina
S.D. (SD) — for South Dakota
Tenn. (TN) — for Tennessee
Texas (TX) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Utah (UT) — this state is not abbreviated in text
Vt. (VT) — for Vermont
Va. (VA) — for Virginia
Wash. (WA) — for Washington
W. Va. (WV) — for West Virginia
Wis. (WI) — for Wisconsin
Wyo. (WY) — for Wyoming
Also: District of Columbia (DC)

Use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZIP code.

PUNCTUATION: Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence or indicating a dateline: He was traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, to Austin, Texas, en route to his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She said Cook County, Illinois, was Mayor Daley’s stronghold.

HEADLINES: Avoid using state abbreviations in headlines whenever possible.

MISCELLANEOUS: Use New York state when necessary to distinguish the state from New York City. Use state of Washington or Washington state when necessary to distinguish the state from the District of Columbia. (Washington State is the name of a university in the state of Washington.)


• September 1961, spring 1955 are preferred over September of 1961, spring of 1955

• Format full dates as: Oct. 3, 1983 (not October 3rd, 1983)

• Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out the month when using alone, or with a year alone.

• When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day, and year, set off the year with commas.

• Examples (these apply to headlines and deks as well):
March 1983 was a good month because that’s when I came into the world.
Feb. 4 was the coldest day of the month.
His birthday is April 17.
Feb. 14, 2009, was the worst Valentine’s Day ever.
Episode 3 airs Saturday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 p.m.

Disease, Disability, Disorders, Mental Health

• Use the phrasing “autistic person” rather than “person with autism” unless it appears in a direct quote. This is the phrasing generally preferred by the autistic community in relation to identity.

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “In general, do not describe an individual as disabled or handicapped unless it is clearly pertinent to a story. If a description must be used, try to be specific. An ad featuring actor Michael J. Fox swaying noticeably from the effects of Parkinson’s disease drew nationwide attention. Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with or suffers from multiple sclerosis. Rather, has multiple sclerosis.”

• Use people-first language (i.e., using a person’s name or the terms “person” or “people” before a condition) to avoid phrasing that could be seen as defining someone by their disability: e.g., “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people.”

• Avoid use of “mentally retarded”: mentally disabled, developmentally disabled, special needs, or intellectually disabled are preferred.

• Use “wheelchair user” rather than “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair-bound.” If known/when possible, say why a wheelchair is used.

• The lowercase “deaf” refers to someone with no hearing. The capitalized “Deaf” is used by members of the Deaf community in relation to identity and culture. Avoid using “hearing-impaired”; use phrasing such as “hard of hearing” or “partially deaf.”

• Do not use the term “deaf-mute”; preferred phrasing is that an individual cannot hear or speak. (A mute person may or may not be deaf.)

• The term “sign language” is lowercase, but capitalize American Sign Language (ASL on second reference). Someone who communicates in sign language is a signer (e.g., an ASL signer).

• For further guidelines, refer to the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s style guide and the Research and Training Center on Independent Living’s “Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities” here.

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, which advise: “Avoid such expressions as: He is battling cancer. She is a stroke victim. Use neutral, precise descriptions: He has stomach cancer. She is a stroke patient.” There are exceptions to this. Use context and common sense.

Mental Health:
• Avoid use of “bipolar” and “OCD” in a nonclinical sense.

• We adhere to the AP Stylebook’s guidelines on mental illness, which include not describing a person as mentally ill “unless it is clearly pertinent to the story.” “Mental illness” is OK to use as a general term, but specific conditions should be used when possible. Do not use the term “the mentally ill.”

Legislative Titles

From AP:

FIRST-REFERENCE FORM: Use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses.

Spell out other legislative titles in all uses. Capitalize formal titles such as assemblyman, assemblywoman, city councilor, delegate, etc., when they are used before a name. Lowercase in other uses.

Add U.S. or state before a title only if necessary to avoid confusion: Former state attorney general Dan Sullivan, a Republican, defeated U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska, during the 2014 general election.
In stories with international datelines, include U.S. before legislative titles.

FIRST-REFERENCE PRACTICE: The use of a title such as Rep. or Sen. in first reference is normal in most stories. It is not mandatory, however, provided an individual’s title is given later in the story.
Deletion of the title on first reference is frequently appropriate, for example, when an individual has become well known: Barack Obama declared Americans were ready to “cast aside cynicism” as he looked for a convincing win in the Democratic contest. The Illinois senator was leading in the polls.

SECOND REFERENCE: Do not use legislative titles before a name on second reference unless they are part of a direct quotation.

CONGRESSMAN, CONGRESSWOMAN: Rep. and U.S. Rep. are the preferred first-reference forms when a formal title is used before the name of a U.S. House member. The words congressman or congresswoman, in lowercase, may be used in subsequent references that do not use an individual’s name, just as senator is used in references to members of the Senate. Congressman and congresswoman should appear as capitalized formal titles before a name only in direct quotation.

ORGANIZATIONAL TITLES: Capitalize titles for formal, organizational offices within a legislative body when they are used before a name: House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, President Pro Tem Orrin Hatch, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley.

When listing multiple names of Senators or Representatives:: Use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names. (Do this: Sens. Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz are clueless.)

Examples: House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, President Pro Tem Patrick J. Leahy.


• When referring to the broader community, “queer” or “gay” (as in “queer people” or “LGBT” as in “LGBT people” or “gay community”) is appropriate. “LGBT” is only appropriate when referring to the broader community or groups of people, not when referring to individuals.

• Opt for “anti-gay” rather than “homophobic”; “anti-trans” rather than “transphobic.” Homophobe can be used occasionally as a noun.

• Unless you already know based on research, it should be standard to ask how people identify themselves: gay, bi, genderqueer, queer, trans, etc…
• A person can be trans WITHOUT also being gay or lesbian. Don’t assume.

• Use “marriage equality” and “same-sex marriage.” Never use “gay marriage” unless in a direct quote from someone else. Generally, in running copy when reporting on legal issues surrounding it, it is more accurate to refer to “same-sex couples’ marriage rights” or something similar rather than “same-sex marriage,” though this is still acceptable shorthand for space or clarity purposes (i.e., in headlines).

Pride flag:
• Use “pride flag” instead of “rainbow flag” or “rainbow pride flag.” Never use “gay flag.”

“Openly” vs. “out”
• “Openly” is preferred over “out” as a modifying phrase (e.g., “openly gay” or “openly trans”), but the terms can be used interchangeably if a writer or subject prefers. Be mindful, however, of whether a modifier is necessary given a story’s or sentence’s context; using it may be redundant.

• Always defer to the pronouns a person chooses to use for himself / herself / themselves.
(It’s not rude to ask. In fact it’s encouraged to ask, “What pronouns do you prefer to use?”)
• If it is not possible to ask a transgender person which pronoun he or she prefers, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance and gender expression.

Transgender terms:
Some of these are adapted from the GLAAD Transgender Glossary of Terms. See full document here.

• Transgender: An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

• Transsexual: An older term (NOT an umbrella term), which originated in the medical and psychological communities. While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual. Ask which term an indi­vidual prefers.

• Cross-dressing: To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex or who intends to do so in the future.

• Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.

• Deadnaming: The preferred term in the community for using a trans person’s assigned name at birth.

• Please use the correct term or terms to describe gender identity. For example, a person who transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who transitions to become male is a transgender man.

• Avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. It is usually best to report on transgender people’s stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past.

Transgender terms to avoid:
Avoid: “transgenders,” “a transgender”
Use: “transgender people,” “a transgender person”
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. NO: “Tony is a transgender.” YES: “Tony is a transgender man.”

Avoid: “transgendered” (adj.)
Use: “transgender” (adj.)

Avoid: “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “trannie,” “tranny,” “shim,” “gender-bender”

Avoid: “sex change operation”
Use: sex reassignment surgery (SRS)

Avoid: “transvestite”
Use: “cross-dresser”

Avoid: “sex change,” “pre-operative,” “post-operative”
Use: “transition”

Avoid: “Gender Identity Disorder (GID)”
Offensive because it labels people as “disordered.”

Avoid: “bathroom bill”
Use: “nondiscrimination law/ordinance” instead.


Album nicknames:
• An album best known by another name instead of its formal title should be styled in roman with no quotes — e.g., the White Album (for The Beatles) and the Banana Album (for The Velvet Underground & Nico).

alt-, alterna-, avant-:
• Hyphenate all made-up constructions.

• Avoid using unless it is officially part of the artist’s name (e.g., Mumford & Sons).

Band names:
• All band names, even those singular in form, take plural construction (e.g., “Soundgarden return to a world without chops,” “Limp Bizkit are the best band ever”). This also applies to names with the words “band,” “group,” “clan,” etc… (“Dave Matthews Band were on tour”).
• Lowercase “the” in band names that officially start with “the”: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Strokes.
• K-pop artists: Don’t cap every letter in the artist’s or band’s name, even if it often appears as such (e.g., G-Dragon, not G-DRAGON; Psy, not PSY).

• Genre names should always be lowercase (new wave, indie, hip-hop, etc…). Exceptions: K-pop, J-pop, R&B.

• Set lyrics in quotes, use a slash between lines, and capitalize the first letter of each new line. (“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There’s nothing you can’t do.”)

• Song listings should always read as: Artist Name, “Song Title”
• Artist Name feat. Other Artist Name, “Song Title” (but spell out “featuring” in running copy; abbreviate only in lists)

Tour names:
• If a tour is named after an album, the tour title is in italics and the word “tour” is roman and lowercase (e.g., the Bigger Bang tour).
• If the tour name doesn’t refer to an album, it should be set in roman, and all words should be initial-capped, including “tour” (e.g., the 777 Tour, the Korn Reunion Tour).
• Residencies (e.g., Vegas shows like Britney Spears’ Piece of Me) should be set in italics.

• Do not adhere to vanity capitalization (e.g., if there’s an album named The BeSt tHiNg EveR, please just style as The Best Thing Ever). When in doubt, defer to the music editors.
• Avoid the word “problematic” at all costs.
• No. 14 on iTunes
• Record companies: Capitalize the word “records” for all labels (e.g., Atlantic Records).
• Side One, Side Two (in album references)


• Spell out one through nine, use numerals for 10 and above (exception: OK to use numerals for numbers under 10 in lists of headlines, like in Celeb Gossip Roundup stories. Also OK (preferable, actually) to use numerals in news-y headlines like this “10 People Shot, 3 Killed At Detroit Barber Shop”).
• Be consistent when writing out numbers in succession (e.g., “9, 10, and 11” NOT “nine, 10, and 11”); same applies to ranges of numbers (e.g., “We are expecting eight to ten people.”)
• Use a comma in numbers expressing quantity that are four digits or more.
• Never start a sentence with a numeral — UNLESS a year starts a sentence (“2013 was a totally bodacious year”), but try to avoid this.
• Use 1 in 4 voters (figures) if it’s a large sampling. But spell six out of nine senators because these are finite numbers under 10.
• More than 1 in 4 children are obese (not “is”).

• 210 Main St. Spell out numbered streets nine and under: 5 Sixth Avenue; 3012 50th St.

• Use numerals for specific ages (“The 5-year-old had a party,” “She was turning 30”).
• Spell out decades (“in your thirties”) and variations (“The twentysomethings…”).

• ’90s / 1990s (Not: 90’s, 1990’s, 90s, nineties, eighties, or any other combination!)
• Do not use an apostrophe after decades, but use one before if it’s the two number abbreviation. Example: ’90s.

Demographics (e.g., in Entertainment stories):
• In 18 to 49, there was…
• 18- to 49-year-olds…
• In the 18-to–49 demographic…

For proper names
• Follow the organization’s usage: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund

• When spelling out fractions in running copy, hyphenate: “You’ll need one-third of a cup of sugar for that recipe,” “More than one-half of the student body voted for removing soda machines from campus.”
Here’s a link to HTML codes for fractions.
• In “and a half” constructions (e.g., “In two and a half weeks…”), no hyphenation is necessary.
• When spelled out (i.e., at the start of a sentence), hyphenate all compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine.

Grades (as in school):
• He was in the first grade; she was a first-grader; they were both first-grade teachers. Use figures for grades 10–12.

Highway designations:
• Interstate 5, U.S. Highway 1, state Route 1A. (Do not abbreviate Route and do not hyphenate.)

In a series
• Apply the standard guidelines: They had 10 dogs, six cats and 97 hamsters. They had four four-room houses, 10 three-room houses and 12 10-room houses.

In headlines:
• For lists, always use a numeral. “9 Adorable Photos Of Monkeys Riding Cats,” “54 Amazing GIFs Of Naked Presidents”
• If a number is not referencing the number of items in a list, then spell it out. “Eight-Minute Video Of Hillary Clinton,” “Five Out Of Nine Supreme Court Justices Prefer Cats Over Dogs,” etc…

Millions and billions:
• Always use numerals (6 million people).

• Use figures and spell out the word: “50 percent of the people were there.”
• Repeat percent with each individual figure: “He said 10 percent to 30 percent would attend.”
• In headlines, use % sign. Example: 100% Of Teens Are Goofballs

• 99 cents, $8, $2 billion deficit
• Do not include “.00” in a price: e.g., $17 (not $17.00).
• When a price includes both figures and words, never hyphenate, even when preceding a noun: e.g., “the $1.7 million house” (not $1.7-million).
• Spell out foreign currency rather than using symbols (euros, yen, etc…), except for British pounds (£), which we use the symbol for in all posts (use option + 3 on non-U.K. keyboards). For nations that also use dollars, clarify by using the currency’s abbreviation following the number: e.g., $100 AUD, $25 CAD.

Phone numbers:
• 917–000–0000; 800-444-4444

Planes, ships and spacecraft designations:
• B-2 bomber, Queen Elizabeth 2, QE2, Apollo 9, Viking 2. (Do not use hyphens.) An exception: Air Force One, the president’s plane. Use Roman numerals if they are part of the official designation: Titan I, Titan II.

Roman Numerals:
• They may be used for wars and to establish personal sequence for people and animals: World War I, Native Dancer II, King George V. Also for certain legislative acts (Title IX). Otherwise, use sparingly. Except in formal reference, pro football Super Bowls should be identified by the year, rather than the Roman numerals III.

• For clothing, format as size 8, size 10, etc.., in all uses. For bra sizes, format as 34B, 36DD, etc…

• Scores: 5–3 (with an en dash); not “5 to 3.” (Also, no comma necessary after “won” in a sentence such as “The Knicks won 110–98.”)
• Use digits for scores, statistics, and yard lines. Spell out everything else under 10 (e.g., ninth inning, first quarter, third base).

• Expressed as numeral + “degrees.” No need to repeat the word “degrees” if it’s implied. (e.g., “It was 5 degrees out, but it felt like –10.”)
• Use numerals to express ranges of temperature (“It’s going up to the 30s today” — no apostrophe after the number). No need to include “Fahrenheit” if it’s clear from the context.

• 4:00, 4 a.m., 8 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. ET/8 CT (when referring to TV show times), noon, midnight
• Lowercase century: the 18th century

Weights and Measures:
• Generally, use figures and spell out “inches,” “feet,” “yards,” etc…, to indicate depth, height, length, width, and weight. (Exception: noun phrases like “8×10s”.) However, in the context of a list, for instance, it is also acceptable to use foot and inch marks (5’6“) to indicate a person’s height if spelling out ”5 feet 6 inches” in context appears stilted/looks awkward. Use your judgment.
• Examples:
She is 5 feet 6 inches tall; the 5-foot–11-inch man; the 6-foot man; the basketball team signed a 7-footer; the orca whale is 26 feet long.
The ship is 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 50 feet high.
The room is 20 feet by 15 feet; the 20-by–15-foot room.
Forecasters are predicting 8 inches of snow tonight.
The 750-square-foot apartment.
He autographed 8×10s.

• 8mm film, 8-track tape, Hot 97, 55 mph, $150K

Party Affiliation

AP Stylebook says: “Let relevance be the guide in determining whether to include a political figure’s party affiliation in a story. Party affiliation is pointless in some stories, such as an account of a governor accepting a button from a poster child. It will occur naturally in many political stories. For stories between these extremes, include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.”

At, we always include the political party of the person we’re writing about if he/she is a political figure or public figure who is politically active.

GENERAL FORMS: When party designation is given, use any of these approaches as logical in constructing a story:

–Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said …
–Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said …
–Sen. Tim Scott also spoke. The South Carolina Republican said …
–Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, said he supports the amendment.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California …
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

From AP:

In stories about party meetings, such as a report on the Republican National Convention, no specific reference to party affiliation is necessary unless an individual is not a member of the party in question.

SHORT-FORM PUNCTUATION: Set short forms such as R-S.C. off from a name by commas, as illustrated above.
Use the abbreviations listed in the entries for each state. (No abbreviations for Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.)
Use R- for Republicans, D- for Democrats, and I- for independents: Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., spoke with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

FORM FOR U.S. HOUSE MEMBERS: The normal practice for U.S. House members is to identify them by party and state. In contexts where state affiliation is clear and home city is relevant, such as a state election roundup, identify representatives by party and city: U.S. Reps. Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville, and Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. If this option is used, be consistent throughout the story.

FORM FOR STATE LEGISLATORS: Short-form listings showing party and home city are appropriate in state stories. For national stories, the normal practice is to say that the individual is a Republican or Democrat. Use a short-form listing only if the legislator’s home city is relevant.

Political parties and philosophies

From AP:

Political parties and philosophies:
Capitalize both the name of the party and the word party if it is customarily used as part of the organization’s proper name: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party.
Capitalize Communist, Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, Republican, Socialist, etc., when they refer to a specific party or its members. Lowercase these words when they refer to political philosophy (see examples below).
Lowercase the name of a philosophy in noun and adjective forms unless it is the derivative of a proper name: communism, communist; fascism, fascist. But: Marxism, Marxist; Nazism, Nazi.
John Adams was a Federalist, but a man who subscribed to his philosophy today would be described as a federalist.

The liberal Republican senator and his Conservative Party colleague said they believe that democracy and communism are incompatible.

The Communist said he is basically a socialist who has reservations about Marxism.

Democrat, Democratic Party – Capitalization:
Both are capitalized. Don’t use Democrat Party.

Q. How would the AP write the term “small ‘d’ democrats”?
A. Last month, AP quoted Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal this way: “I find that a little troubling, not in a big ‘D’ Democratic Party sense, but in a small ‘d,’ representative democracy sense.”

Q. Under party affiliations entry, the use of capitals for Republicans and Democrats is not clear. In the example of House democrats voted…., would the noun be capped even though it is a generic reference?
A. Correct.

Democrat or Democratic:
Q. Is it the Democratic-controlled House/Senate or Democratically-controlled House/Senate?
A. The adjective is Democratic.

Q. majority-Democrat legislature? When to use Democrat (adj.) or Democratic? (party affiliation)
A. More precise as majority Democrats in the Legislature (cap L in reference to a specific state body). Democrat (n.) for a member of the Democratic (adj.) Party.

Q. Should it be Democrat candidate or Democratic candidate?
A. Democratic candidate is correct.

Q. Is “Dem” an acceptable abbreviation for “Democrat” or “Democratic”? – from Redmond, Wash. on Tue, Feb 16, 2010
A. Dem. is used in headlines. Within a story, AP style is D- (followed by the state or other constituency).

Race and Ethnicity

• Use good judgment when determining whether it is appropriate to mention a person’s race/ethnicity in a story. Per AP, appropriate situations include:
— In biographical and announcement stories that involve significant, groundbreaking or historic events, such as being elected U.S. president, being named to the U.S. Supreme Court or other notable occurrences. (e.g., Barack Obama is the first black U.S. president. Jeremy Lin is the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.)
— When reporting a demonstration or disturbance involving race or such issues as civil rights or slavery.

• When describing suspects sought by the police or missing person cases, race should be mentioned only if there is a detailed description to work with that includes attire and/or other identifying marks. Do not refer to the race of the person when apprehended or found.

• Per AP: Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc…

• Use “Black” (capitalized) rather than “African-American,” unless it is relevant in the context of a story (e.g., a conflict between African immigrants and African-Americans) or if someone prefers to be identified as African-American.

• Generally avoid the use of “black” and “white” as a noun. Example, do not say: “The Blacks have a right to be angry.” Say instead “Black people have a right to be angry.”

• When describing the ethnicity of people with origins in Caribbean countries, use Haitian, Haitian-American, Jamaican-American, etc…, rather than African-American. In stories where race is a factor, when possible, ask people how they choose to self-identify. Do not use “African-American” to describe African people who live in America.

• Avoid clumsy euphemisms like “urban-targeted” or “race-themed” to describe films or television programs with majority black casts.

• “Latino” refers to those having Latin-American origin; “Hispanic” technically refers to descendants from Spain. Use more specific identification when possible (e.g., Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican-American), but generally use “Latino” rather than “Hispanic” when a broader term is necessary. (“Latin@” — a construction common on Tumblr and Twitter — is also an acceptable variation, making room for multiple genders despite the restrictions of language.)

• There is mostly overlap between those who identify as Latino and Hispanic, but not all: One example of Latinos who are not Hispanic are Brazilians. (A helpful resource can be found here.) Reserve “Spanish” only to describe the people who are from Spain.


• Order: List ingredients in the order they appear in the instructions.
• Abbreviate measurements (do not use periods, except for Tbsp.) in lists of ingredients, but spell them out in instructions unless space is severely limited: tsp (teaspoon), Tbsp. (tablespoon), oz (ounce), lb (pound).
• Use numerals only throughout (in both ingredient lists and instructions): 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 servings, makes 12 servings, etc… Also: 2 to 3 Tbsp. (not 2–3 Tbsp.)
• Use numerals in subheadings/recipe names like “7-Layer Dip” or “4-Ingredient Cake”
• Ingredients with nonspecific amounts or measures are initial-capped in lists: Freshly ground black pepper
• Include ingredients added “to taste” (also: cooking spray) in list of ingredients.
• Include an “F” for “Fahrenheit” after the º sign: “Preheat oven to 375ºF” (note: no spaces).
• When republishing recipes from cookbooks or other previously published materials, print as they appeared in their original form.

Sample recipe copy:


Serves 10–12


4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
4 Tbsp. bourbon
One 1-lb package wide egg noodles
6 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 lb full-fat cottage cheese
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to salt water for noodles

2 cups cornflakes
1 cup whole shelled pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup brown sugar

Special Equipment
Food processor or blender
9×13-inch baking dish
Aluminum foil
Gallon-size ziplock bag

Preheat oven to 400°F.


Wrap sweet potatoes individually in foil and roast in the oven until soft and completely cooked through, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Peel skin off sweet potatoes using your hands (and a table knife, if it helps), then puree with the bourbon in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. This should yield about 3 cups of puree. If you yield more than 3 cups, set the excess aside for another use or discard. (If you want, you can do this ahead and refrigerate the puree for up to 2 days.)

Lower oven to 350°F.

In a pot of heavily salted water, cook the egg noodles al dente (about 5 minutes, or 2 minutes less than the package directions say). Pour into a colander to drain, running cold water over the noodles until they are cool to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly.

In a very large bowl, beat eggs, then add brown sugar and beat just until combined. Add cottage cheese, melted butter, and the sweet potato puree, then mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Finally, add salt and the cooked noodles, and mix with a spatula until combined.

Pour noodle mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes (if noodles start to brown during this time, cover your baking dish with foil).

While kugel is baking, prepare the pecan topping: First, put the cornflakes in a ziplock bag and crush with your hands. The cornflakes should be in small pieces, but not dust. Next, brown butter in a medium saucepan. When butter is brown, turn off your head and add sugar, chopped pecans and crushed cornflakes and stir with a spatula until just combined.

After it has baked for the full 50 minutes, remove kugel from the oven and sprinkle pecan mixture on top in an even layer. Bake, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, or until set. If pecans start to brown before kugel is set, cover with foil. Serve immediately.


From AP as of April 2013
Islamist: An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam.

Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists.

Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc… Those who view the Qur’an as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.

Capitalization: The Names Of God, Specific Deities, Religious Figures, And Holy Books (via Grammarly)
Proper nouns which refer to gods, the titles of religious figures, or holy books should always be capitalized.


  • Allah, God and Yahweh are different names for the same god.
  • The Bhagavad-Gita contains holy scriptures read by several religions.
  • Some people read the Old and New Testaments for historical purposes.
  • Father Michael, Father Andrew needs to see you in his office.

If a title is being used as part of a name, it should be capitalized. If the title is being used as a common noun, there’s no need to capitalize.


  • Pope John Paul II gave the sermon on Easter Sunday.
  • The pope always gives the sermon on Easter Sunday.

As a title, pope is capitalized; when pope denotes a job position, it doesn’t require a capital.


  • Rabbi Cohen is coming for dinner.
  • The rabbi is coming for dinner.
  • There is only one God.
  • Monotheistic religions believe there is only one god.

Social Media/Apps

• Never use as a verb (Facebooking, Facebooked) — instead, use language such as “posted to Facebook.”
• likes — lowercase, not set in quotes
• News Feed (for Facebook — newsfeed may be used in some cases for other platforms. See in word list above.)
• to friend someone — lowercase, not set in quotes

• Instagrammed, Instagramming
• As ~quirky~ verb form: “to ’gram” for short
• Capitalize filter names: Amaro, Earlybird, Lo-Fi, etc…

• pin, pinned, pinning
• Pinterest board

• snap (n.) — lowercase “s”
• Snapchatted/Snapchatting, snapped/snapping, or sent a snap — all terms are OK

• Tindering/Tindered OK as a verb

• Individual Tumblr blog names capitalized, in roman (e.g., Hot Dog Legs, Reasons My Son Is Crying)

• tweeted (never “tweeted out”), tweeting, tweet (as verb and noun), Twitter user (preferred to “tweeter”), Twitterstorm (preferred to tweetstorm), live-tweet
• hashtag
• For clarity, cap separate words in a hashtag name — e.g., #ThrowbackThursday — in running copy.
• Treat Twitter handles like proper names: Retain same capitalization as actual handle, add just an apostrophe for the possessive of handle names ending in “s,” etc…
• Weird Twitter (cap W)
• fave, faved, faving (e.g., “I faved his tweet”)
• “retweet” preferred over “RT” in running copy
• subtweet, subtweeted, subtweeting (but never “subtweeted about,” i.e., “He subtweeted me,” NOT “He subtweeted about me.”)
• DM, DMs, DM’d, DM’ing (for direct messages)

• Vine should be capped in all uses: Vine (n.), Vine-ing (v.), Vined (v.), but “post a Vine/use Vine” is preferred

• Use “send a WhatsApp message” rather than “send a WhatsApp”

Miscellaneous Style Guidelines

• You can use “pro-abortion rights”/“abortion rights advocate”
• Do not use “pro-life” to describe people who are against abortion and reproductive rights for women. We use the term “anti-choice” for them, unless we are referencing quoted material.

Academic degrees:
• Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are possessive (when used with or without the word “degree”); associate degree is not. Capitalize in the following instances: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, etc…
• Style degrees like J.D. and M.D. thusly; certifications, medical or otherwise, abbreviated as three or more letters do not require periods (e.g., FACOG).
• “Dr.” is unnecessary before a person’s name if their degrees follow (e.g., Janie Smith, M.S., M.D., FACOG).
• If someone holds a Ph.D. in a nonmedical field, do not use “Dr.” before their name. If it’s necessary to say a person has a doctorate, express as “who has a Ph.D. in” or “who holds a doctorate in” after their name.

• Contrary to AP, “undocumented immigrant” is acceptable terminology, but avoid “illegal immigrant” unless we’re referencing quoted material. Never say “illegals” when referring to human beings.
• Young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children are referred to as DREAMers (retaining capitalization of the DREAM Act).

From AP as of April 2013:

Illegal Immigration: Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law.

Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.

Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, or illegals.

Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution.

Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border?  Overstayed a visa? What nationality?

People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally. For people granted a temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, use temporary resident status, with details on the program lower in the story.

Little People/Dwarfism:
• Use the term “little person” when referring to someone of short stature. Use “dwarfism” only if referring to the medical condition; per person-first guidelines, use “person with dwarfism” rather than “dwarf.” Never use the word “midget.”
• Per the National Center on Disability and Journalism, some people prefer “short stature” instead of “little person.” When possible, ask the person which term is suitable.
• When discussing average height people in context with little people, use the phrase “average height,” not “normal height.”

• In running copy, refer to people fleeing their countries as “people” (and variations thereof: people fleeing war, people escaping Eritrea, people fleeing for Europe, people escaping the war in Syria, etc…). This allows us to humanize the crisis.
• When shorthand is necessary (i.e., for headlines/deks), be precise:
– Use “refugee” when referring to, per AP, “a person who is forced to leave his home or country to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.”
– Use “migrant” when referring to someone seeking economic opportunity.
• The UNHCR’s explainer of the distinction between the words is a helpful resource.

Natural Disasters:
• Capitalize “hurricane” or “superstorm” when it precedes the name that weather forecasters have assigned to a storm: e.g., Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina.
• Use “its” when referring to a storm (or any other natural disaster); do not use personal pronouns like “his” and “her.”
• Always lowercase the word “fire” when referring to the names of wildfires: e.g., the Silverado fire.

Rape and Sexual Assault:
• Avoid using the word “accuser” (except in a direct quote) since it implies a blame placed on the victim; “alleged victim” (though not perfect) is a better choice.
• Be wary of taking words verbatim from press releases and/or police reports. Keep language as neutral as possible. The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma at Columbia J-School has a helpful guide for reporting on and writing about sexual violence.
• Avoid the phrase “trigger warning” when writing about rape, sexual assault, mental illness, or any similarly sensitive subject matter. Run such posts by your manager before publishing to make sure that language in the hed and dek is clear about the content of the piece, rather than using a trigger warning. Ultimately, if you feel a particularly explicit image or depiction warrants a warning in the dek of story, please introduce with a phrase such as: “Warning: graphic images” or “Warning: detailed descriptions.”

Royal terms (U.K.):
• Titles such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or the Prince of Wales are capped at first mention, then subsequently decapped to the duke and the duchess or the prince. The exception is the Queen, whose role is always capped.
• The Duke of Cambridge is also called Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, can also be referred to as Kate in headlines, deks, and lighter posts. She should never be called Princess Kate or Kate Middleton (her former name), however.
• Do not cap “royal” in phrases such as “the royal baby” or “the royal family.”

• When reporting on suicide, use language such as “killed oneself,” and, when possible, give specificity, e.g., “shot oneself”; do use good judgment in terms of the extent to which specifics are reported, however.
• “Died of an apparent suicide” is also acceptable phrasing if information has not yet been confirmed. Avoid “committed suicide,” “died by suicide,” and “took one’s life” unless in a direct quote; to some, “committed” may carry a criminal or negative moral connotation that we wish to avoid in reported stories, and the latter phrasings suggest passivity and veer into euphemism, respectively.
• Do not refer to an “unsuccessful suicide attempt”; use “attempted suicide” instead. Corrections Policy

Corrections are important for two reasons: First, because we need to be right. And second, because transparency is a core value for While every error is a weakness, some errors are inevitable, and fully and openly correcting them is a strength.

This policy has two goals. One is to have a better handle on any mistakes we make. But the other is to avoid the one thing worse than making an error — which is resisting correcting it. We all make mistakes sometimes; the fullness and speed of corrections is one of the delights of digital journalism, and we should embrace it in full.

How Does Corrections:
• A correction should include the accurate information. It should explain the error, and it may restate the error when it’s necessary to clarify what it was or to debunk a claim. See sample corrections at the end of this doc.

• Corrections should be made for errors of fact — not misspellings or typos or broken links. Do issue a correction, however, if someone’s name is misspelled throughout a story.

• The correction’s tone should echo the tone of the item, in keeping with its gravity. For a factual error in, say, a funny list, the language can be fairly colloquial and even humorous as long as it contains the basic building blocks — “we got something wrong, and here is the correct information”; whereas for a news error, the language should be more sober and direct. A dumb mistake on a list of weird facts about Love Actually can begin with “Gah!”; a correction of an error of fact in a news story should not.

• Corrections should be in plain English, not in the somewhat formal corrections style traditional among news organizations.

• Be very thorough and careful. The absolute worst thing is to have to correct your correction. If the correction is about a person, it’s often a good move to read the correction on the phone to its subject before printing it.

• Try to mention the correction on all channels the story went out on — if you tweeted it, tweet the correction, etc…

Hat Tips:
Be generous to the person on Twitter who pointed out the error — whether you are feeling generous or not, and no matter how obnoxious the tweet. That person did you a favor by improving your piece. If possible, end the correction with “(h/t: @twitterlunatic)” and a link to the tweet in question. If a hat tip appears in a dek or in the middle of running copy as a stand-alone sentence, use end punctuation. If a person emails a correction, don’t mention the person by name unless they ask you to. Simply say “h/t to a AmReading.comn who pointed out this error to us.” Similarly if it’s a person on the Facebook page or in the comments of an article.

Corrections vs. Updates:
Updates should be used to reflect important new information or clarifications; corrections are for mistakes.

Writers should draft corrections, but run them by their editor, team leader, or the after-hours list for approval/editing before putting them in.

Sample Corrections:

Newsy, simple correction:
Twitter increased the value of its IPO shares to between $23 and $25. An earlier version of this post misstated the value range.

Newsy, restating the error:
Twitter’s CEO could not be reached for comment. An earlier version of this post said Twitter’s CFO could not be reached for comment.

(^ This is also an example of when what was maybe just a typo warrants a correction rather than just a quick fix.)

Humorous, simple correction:
Gah! Miley was first documented twerking in public on Jan. 20, 2013. An earlier version of this post had the wrong date.

Humorous, restating the error:
Oops! Kim Kardashian’s favorite selfie pose is the smize. An earlier version of this post said her favorite selfie pose is duckface.

Other examples where restating the error is necessary:
Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane. An earlier version of this post said he had stormed the beaches. _

On Kanye’s new album, a credit wasn’t listed for the producer on the first track. An earlier version of this post said that a credit wasn’t listed for the writer.

Siberian tigers are the most endangered big-cat species. An earlier version of this post said pumas were the most endangered big-cat species.

And again…About This Guide

One of our favorite websites is BuzzFeed, and they have generously provided their company style guide for everyone on the web:

Our perspective reflects that of the internet at large, which is why we hope other sites and organizations across the web will find these guidelines useful. This style guide will be updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant and responds accordingly to changes in language and common, casual usage.

We’ve taken the basic framework of the BuzzFeed style guide to build our own style guide. We want to acknowledge how much their guide has helped us in building our own, but we also want to caution writers to always refer to this one — the Style Guide — as their reference point. It has been uniquely edited and modified to meet our needs.

Thank you, BuzzFeed!