AP Style Refresher for Holiday & Food Lingo, Punctuation, and More
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.
As we near the end of the year, here are a few helpful AP Style rule reminders to keep in mind as you put together your holiday content or start planning your 2022 editorial calendar.
Didn’t find what you need in this roundup? Check out past recaps for even more helpful tips for writers.
🎄 Holiday Reminders
‘Tis the season for a few festive AP Style rules, including:
- Lowercase seasonal terms with Christmas, like Christmas tree, card, wreath, and carol.
- Eggnog, fruitcake, gingerbread, mistletoe, and sugarplums should be written as one word.
- A menorah is the popular term for the nine-branch candelabrum, or hanukkiah, used on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
- Capitalize New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
- The song we sing on New Year’s Eve? It’s “Auld Lang Syne.”
Here are a few handy notes about punctuation that AP Stylebook has shared recently:
- Don’t hyphenate double-e combinations with the prefixes pre- and re-. Examples: preeclampsia, preeminent, preempt, reemerge, reenact.
- Use commas to separate adjectives of equal rank (like a calm, quiet evening). Unsure if they’re equal? If you can replace the comma with “and” without losing the meaning, they’re of equal rank. If the last adjective is part of a noun phrase, however, don’t include a comma (like an expensive fur coat).
- Don’t add an apostrophe to plural figures like the 1920s, temperatures in the low 30s, etc.
✏️ Abbreviations vs. Acronyms
Acronyms are words formed from the first letter or letters of a series of words, like STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), VIP (very important person), and PTA (parent teacher association). They are acceptable in all references, but be careful to avoid alphabet soup. If a reader wouldn’t recognize the acronym right away, write it out.
The same goes for abbreviations.
Abbreviations are shortened versions of words, like Mr. (Mister), vs. (versus), and etc. (etcetera).
Speaking of acronyms, NCAA stands for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but AP Style doesn’t require that you write it out. It’s assumed that readers recognize it.
And a note about football: it’s the 50-yard line, he ran 12 yards, it was a 5-yard gain.
Use the terms favorite (most likely to win), underdog (most likely to lose), and upset only when they are based on actual odds from a sportsbook.
Game day is two words, with no hyphen. It’s OK to write it as one word if it’s part of a formal title or another name. Also, pompom is one word.
Getting ready for a new year of sports that (hopefully) looks more like normal? Our 2022 sports calendar will be out soon, so stay tuned.
Capitalize the names of organizations and institutions (General Motors Co.) as well as major subsidiaries/subdivisions (Pontiac Division of General Motors).
However, internal elements of a company that are widely used generic terms should be lowercase (the General Motors board of directors). If the organization uses less common terms for an internal division, it’s ok to capitalize (the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches).
Make sure to lowercase french fries – it refers to the way the potato is cut, not the nation.
However, capitalize Russian dressing, Waldorf salad, Swiss cheese, and bananas Foster.
Fowl refers to birds, especially larger birds, used as food. It includes chickens, duck, and turkey. Don’t confuse it with foul, meaning offensive or out of line. Combining all the fowl options? That’s a turducken.
✍️ And one more helpful reminder:
Headlines must stand on their own in conveying the story fairly, and they must include key context. They should tempt readers to want to read more, without misleading or overpromising.
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) November 15, 2021