AP Style Rules for Writing About the Royal Family, Inflation, 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.
Since our last AP Style roundup, several major stories have dominated news coverage, from the overturning of Roe v. Wade to inflation and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. These big headlines have given journalists plenty of reason to brush up on some unique AP Style rules and guidelines.
Here’s our recap of some of these helpful reminders from the past several months.
The royal family
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Associated Press Stylebook put together a style guide to help journalists covering the British royal family (note that “royal family” is lowercase). Here are a few of the reminders:
- Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the only monarch most Britons have ever known. Her name defines an age: the modern Elizabethan Era. She died Sept. 8 at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland.
- Her son Charles automatically became the monarch and is now King Charles III. He is married to Camilla, now known as Queen Consort.
- Charles’s son William, also known as the Duke of Cambridge, is now first in line of succession to the throne.
- The official residence of British monarchs is Buckingham Palace, located in central London.
- Capitalize king, queen, prince, and princess when they are used directly before one or more names; lowercase when they stand alone.
Inflation is top-of-mind for many Americans, especially as the midterm elections approach. Here are a few reminders for any journalists covering the issue:
- Inflation is a sustained increase in prices that results in a decrease in the purchasing power of money. It can be broken down into two types:
- Cost-push inflation occurs when increases in the price of specific items, such as oil or food, are big enough to drive up prices overall.
- Demand-pull inflation occurs when the amount of money available exceeds the amount of goods and services available for sale.
Since the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade at the end of June, we’ve seen a number of press releases tied to the topic of abortion. If you’re writing about abortion or reproductive health, there are a few AP Style rules to remember.
When adhering to AP Style, use the modifiers anti-abortion or abortion-rights. Terms like pro-life, pro-choice or pro-abortion should not be used unless they are part of a direct quote or proper name.
It’s acceptable to use terms like pregnant women or women seeking abortions. If you want to be inclusive of people who have those experiences but do not identify as women, like transgender men or nonbinary people, it’s acceptable to use terms like pregnant people. Use your best judgment and select the term that’s appropriate for your story.
Generally, spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. Exceptions include years and numeral/letter combinations like 401(k) and 3D.
After the heartbreaking news in June of the bodies of dozens of immigrants found in the back of a semi-truck in San Antonio, AP Stylebook shared a few immigration-related reminders:
- Unless you are quoting people or documents that use them, these terms should not be used: illegal immigrant, unauthorized immigrant, irregular migrant (a term used by the U.N.), alien, an illegal, illegals, or undocumented.
- Migrant(s) or immigrant(s) are acceptable as long as the context is clear.
There can never be enough reminders about punctuation rules. Recently, AP Stylebook shared the following:
- If ownership is joint, only use the possessive form on the last word (for example, Bert and Ernie’s apartment). If the items are individually owned, both words should be possessive – like Chandler’s and Monica’s apartments.
- Use hyphens when referring to back-to-school supplies, but they aren’t needed when mentioning that students are heading back to school.
The term drugs is acceptable for both prescribed products and illicit substances. Some additional reminders include:
- Fentanyl, a painkiller typically prescribed for severe pain, is frequently seen as an illegal street drug. It is much more powerful than heroin and is considered a top driver of the increase in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to experts.
- LSD, also known as acid, is acceptable on the first reference.
- Use the term psychedelic mushrooms in the first reference and mushrooms in subsequent references. Magic mushrooms is acceptable when used in direct quotes.
We now have an entry called “marijuana, cannabis.”
It includes definitions for cannabinoids, decriminalization, delta, edibles, hemp and 420, among other related terms.
You can find this in the new AP Stylebook, 56th Edition, and on AP Stylebook Online. pic.twitter.com/80ojX5g09x
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) June 29, 2022
Gun is an acceptable term for any firearm.
Aim to use terms that clearly state the functions of a rifle. For example, semi-automatic rifle and automatic rifle should be used depending on how bullets are fired (auto-reload after each trigger pull or constant firing while the trigger is depressed).
Avoid using the highly politicized terms assault rifle and assault weapon.
The term shooting rampage is preferred to shooting spree. Spree is usually only used in terms like shopping spree.
And in case you were wondering…
What would an AP style hot dog be?
For starters, the list of toppings probably wouldn't include an Oxford comma.
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) August 9, 2022
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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.