10 more AP Style changes and reminders to know about

We know journalists are busy, and it can be difficult to keep up with recent AP Style changes. So we’ve done the work for you, rounding up a few of the recent significant — and just plain interesting — updates to the AP Stylebook.

10 Reminders: AP Style Rules You Need to Know

Boycott or Embargo?

According to AP Style, a boycott is an organized refusal to buy a product or service, or to deal with a merchant or group of merchants.

An embargo is a legal restriction against trade that typically prohibits goods from entering or leaving a country. Embargoes is the correct plural.

Stacks of shipping containers


The term cyberattack is routinely overused in news stories, according to the AP Stylebook team.

Cyberattack should be used to describe an event that “causes physical damage or widespread disruption of a network with catastrophic results.”

If the computer action results in limited or short-term problems, hacking or computer intrusion should be used to describe it.

Computer screen displaying lines of code

Love Language

A chat on Feb. 12 provided some helpful reminders for love and relationship terminology.

  • Always include an apostrophe in Valentine’s Day. Why? The day honors a saint martyred in third-century Rome.
    • However, couples exchange valentines (lowercase, no apostrophe).
  • Carat is the weight of precious stones. Be careful not to use karat, a proportion of pure gold used with an alloy; caret — a proofreading mark; or carrot — the veggie.
  • For joint ownership, use the possessive form after only the last word: Chase and Rocky’s puppy.
  • There’s no need for accent marks in fiance (man) and fiancee (woman).

Cutout hearts in pink paper hanging from strings


STEM is acceptable on the first reference.

Write out the full phrase science, technology, engineering, and math shortly thereafter.

This was a new addition to the Stylebook Online for 2018.

electronics equipment

Baloney vs. Bologna

Baloney is foolish or exaggerated talk.

Bologna is the sausage or lunch meat. It’s named after the city in Italy, which is spelled the same but pronounced “boh-LOAN-ya.” The Americanized pronunciation is “buh-LOAN-ee.”

Feel like diving deeper into this one? Here you go.

Bologna sandwich sitting on a cutting board, next to a knife

Month Abbreviations

The following months should be abbreviated when used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec.

If the month is used alone or with a year alone, spell out the full month.

Woman holding up a clipboard with a monthly calendar for January attached

Gambling and Gaming

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that states could decide for themselves whether to allow gambling on sports.

A chat with guest expert Oskar Garcia on Jan. 23 gave followers some helpful tips. Check out the full sports betting topical guide.

  • Odds should be written with figures and a hyphen: She won despite 3-2 odds against her. Although “to” isn’t necessary, it should also be included with hyphens if used: the odds were 3-to-2.
  • Avoid using the terms favorite, underdog, and upset if they aren’t in line with what betting markets say.
  • Sportsbook is one word. It describes places, in-person or online, where sports bets are accepted.
  • “Gambling” is generally preferred to “gaming.” “Gaming” should only be used in direct quotes, proper names, or in reference to video games.

Deck of cards on a table surrounded by poker chips and dice

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place during the week of Jan. 7. AP Stylebook took the time to remind followers of the differences between these two technologies.

  • AP Stylebook defines virtual reality as “a computer-generated simulation of an interactive, three-dimensional environment” that allows interaction through the use of headsets, hand-held controllers and other electronic equipment.
  • On the other hand, augmented reality projects interactive computer-generated images into a person’s actual surroundings.
  • VR and AR are acceptable after the first reference.

Still confused? Me too. This video helps.

Woman wearing an virtual reality headset


Lowercase winter solstice and summer solstice, the shortest and longest days of the year, respectively.

Seasons should also be lowercase: winter, spring, summer, and fall.


Strait-laced or straight-laced?

Use strait-laced when referring to confinement, like a corset or straitjacket.

Straight-laced is the correct use when describing a person who is strict or severe in their behavior and/or moral views.

Woman in a bridal gown looking out a window

Subscribe to Beyond Bylines to get media trends, journalist interviews, blogger profiles, and more sent right to your inbox.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Rocky Parker works in Audience Relations at PR Newswire. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines. When she’s not working, Rocky typically can be found cooking, binge watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson.

You may also like...