AP Style Rules to Remember for Your Writing

AP Style Rules & Reminders for Writers

We know journalists are busy, and it can be difficult to keep up with recent AP Stylebook 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.

💉 Coronavirus Variants

Following guidance from the World Health Organization, you should refer to specific variants by letters of the Greek alphabet as assigned by WHO. Include a brief reference to where the variant was first seen. For example: The delta variant, first detected in India, is more contagious.

Avoid using numbers to describe variants (B.1.1.7., for example) and country labels (the South Africa variant).

Find even more reminders for COVID-19 terminology in our March roundup.

🪖 Military titles

Capitalize a military rank when used as a formal title before an individual’s name. (I spoke with General John Doe.)

On the first reference, use the appropriate title before the full name of a member of the military. In subsequent references, do not continue using the title before a name. Use only the last name.

✊🏿 Juneteenth

Juneteenth (June 19) commemorates the emancipation of slavery in the U.S. It was declared a federal holiday by President Joe Biden.

Read more about federal holidays in our previous AP Style roundup.

🧭 Travel

The AP Stylebook Twitter account held a chat in June with helpful rule reminders regarding travel.

  • Spell out Transportation Security Administration on first use. TSA is acceptable on the second reference. Exception: TSA PreCheck is OK on the first reference.
  • Sites like Airbnb and VRBO are vacation rental websites. Short-term lodging service is another acceptable term. Don’t call them home-sharing or room-sharing sites.
  • Don’t use the terms travel restriction, travel ban, and travel advisory interchangeably. Follow the guidance of the agency issuing the order.
  • There’s only one L in cancel, canceled, canceling, travel, traveled, traveling, and traveler. Use two Ls in cancellation.
  • The abbreviations mph and mpg are acceptable in all references.

🥇 Olympics

Before the Summer Games kicked off on July 23, @APStylebook held a chat on Twitter. The Tokyo Olympics may be over but take note of these rules for the Winter Olympics (already next year!).

  • Capitalize the Beijing Games or the Beijing Olympics. The year always precedes the city and Olympics: 2022 Beijing Olympics. Capitalize Games, even if it’s alone.
  • Olympic Village is capitalized, but athletes’ village is lowercase.
  • Both IOC and the International Olympic Committee are OK on the first reference.
  • AP Style recommends avoiding the term Olympiad, since it can be confusing.

📚 Back-to-School

  • GPA is acceptable in all references.
  • There’s no apostrophe in ABCs but do include one in single letter grades (B’s and C’s, for example). Write out A-plus.
  • Both blended learning and hybrid learning can be used to describe a combination of in-person and online instruction.
  • Schoolteacher is one word but include spaces in grade school teacher and high school teacher. And there’s no hyphen in terms like first grader or first grade student.
  • It’s school principal, not principle. Use the old saying, the principal is your pal, to help you remember!

ICYMI: Check out some of the big back-to-school news sent via PR Newswire over recent weeks.

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Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision PR Newswire. She works with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky has also counseled on content writing best practices. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines. In her free time, Rocky can usually be found cooking, binge-watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson. 

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