AP Style: 2022 in Review
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.
It’s been another hectic year for journalists and that means AP Style has had to make a number of adjustments and share reminders to help writers stay caught up.
For our last AP Style roundup of the year, we thought it’d be useful to highlight some of the year’s big reminders and rule updates from the AP Stylebook that were tied to some of the year’s biggest news stories.
💰 Inflation & The Economy
This year, the country faced the largest inflation rates since 1981. To help writers covering the issue, the AP Stylebook published a timely finance-related topical guide, including reminders on the following:
- 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.
- A bear market is defined as “a period of generally declining stock prices over a prolonged period, generally defined as a 20% or larger decline in broad stock indexes such as the S&P 500.”
- Need help remembering the difference between bear and bull markets? Bears hibernate (like a market retreating) and bulls charge (like a surging stock).
- Spell out gross domestic product on the first use and define it for clarity. Subsequent mentions are OK as the GDP.
- Use the % symbol when paired with a figure like 10.4%. Try to avoid starting sentences with a percentage, but if necessary, spell it out like “Ten percent.”
- The consumer price index, issued monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is “a measurement of changes in the retail prices of a constant marketbasket of goods and services.” It compares the cost of the marketbasket at a fixed time with its cost at subsequent or prior intervals.
Inflation was top-of-mind for many Americans this year, especially as the midterm elections approached and they began planning their holiday spending. We’ll keep an eye on terminology surrounding this trend in 2023.
🏳️🌈 Diversity & Inclusion
During Pride Month, we shared a few rules to keep in mind when writing about the LGBTQ community, including:
- LGBTQ is acceptable in all references.
- Gender refers to internal and social identity — it’s not synonymous with sex, which is made up of biological characteristics, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive anatomy. Not all people fall into one of two categories for sex and gender, so avoid phrases like “both sexes” or “opposite genders.”
- Include a hyphen in gender-fluid and gender-fluidity.
- As much as possible, use they/them/their to accurately describe and represent a person who uses those pronouns for themself. Don’t make assumptions about a person’s gender identity or their pronouns.
Here are a couple additional reminders surrounding diversity:
- In race-related coverage, avoid broad generalizations and labels. Writers should “strive to accurately represent the world, or a particular community, and its diversity through the people you quote and depict in all formats,” according to the AP Stylebook.
- The term people of color is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white. The term should not be used for an individual.
- Capitalize Black when used as an adjective in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense. Black is not interchangeable with African American, which is acceptable when referring to those in the U.S.
- The terms disabilities and disabled are acceptable when relevant. Do not use euphemisms such as handi-capable, differently abled, or physically challenged, other than in direct quotations.
Learn more about inclusive storytelling, which can make your writing stronger, more compelling, and more trustworthy.
After the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade at the end of June, we saw a number of press releases tied to the topic of abortion sent via PR Newswire. 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, fetus, which refers to the stage in human development after the 10th week of pregnancy to birth, is preferred in many cases, including almost all scientific and medical uses. However, it’s important to write clearly and sensitively. Sometimes, terms like unborn baby or child are appropriate when fetus could seem cold or clinical.
🇺🇦 Ukraine & Russia
Russia began attacks in Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and it’s been a focal point of the news cycle ever since. Here are a few rules and reminders for writing about the conflict.
- Volodymyr Zelenskyy (note the -yy ending) is the correct spelling for the Ukrainian President. It’s also the spelling used by governments and organizations including the U.S. and NATO.
- Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine. The style was changed in 2019 to align with the Ukrainian government’s preferred transliteration to English. It’s pronounced KEE’-yeev.
- War is an appropriate term to describe what’s happening in Ukraine. Invasion and attack are also acceptable.
It’s been nearly three years since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Since then, we’ve included numerous tips for writing about the coronavirus in our quarterly AP Style roundups. As the world continues to (slowly but surely) move on, here are a few reminders from 2022:
- An epidemic is the rapid spreading of disease in a certain population or region. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread exponentially and wider, usually to multiple countries or continents, affecting a large number of people. Health experts expect it to eventually become endemic, which is an adjective referring to the constant presence of a disease that spreads at a predictable rate.
- AP Style lowercases variants like delta and omicron, since letters of the Greek alphabet are typically lowercase.
- A breakthrough infection occurs in a fully vaccinated person. Since definitions of fully vaccinated can vary, make sure to define what is meant in each case.
- AP Style is to avoid the term asymptomatic, as it’s considered medical jargon. Try using “people without symptoms” or “they had no symptoms” instead.
In other health news, the virus previously known as monkeypox is now called mpox (pronounced EM’-pox). WHO made the change in November because the original could be construed as stigmatizing and racist. Use mpox on the first reference and mention the former name once later in the story until the new name is more widely known.
❓ Always-Helpful Punctuation Reminders
Here are some of the punctuation rule reminders AP Stylebook shared throughout 2022. These refreshers are useful any time of year:
- Hyphenate well- combinations that come before a noun (a well-known movie), but not when it comes after the noun (the movie was well known).
- A hyphen is not needed for two-word phrases that include “very” or for adverbs ending in -ly. For example, a very cold morning and a hardly fought battle are correct.
- The ampersand (&) is OK to use in a company’s formal name (like Procter & Gamble) and accepted abbreviations (B&B). Otherwise, you should generally not replace “and” with the ampersand.
- Include a comma before and after the year when it’s part of a date: The wedding is planned for August 27, 2023, in Miami. However, if the month and date are in the current year, it’s not necessary to include the year.
- No apostrophe in farmers market as “farmers” is mainly used in a descriptive sense, not a possessive one.
- It’s daylight saving time (lowercase, “saving” and not “savings”).
- It’s now OK to “preheat” an oven. Previously, guidance was to just use “heat.”
- 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 proposed metaverse combines augmented reality, virtual reality, and other tech to create an immersive online world where people can gather to play, work, socialize and shop. It’s also a tech industry buzzword used by companies to describe existing technologies.
👑 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 the 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.
🗳️ Voting and Elections
As the midterms neared, AP Stylebook shared a few topical reminders for journalists covering the elections.
- Use the term advanced voting in reference to options that allow voters to cast their vote before Election Day (note the capitalization). These options could include voting by mail, voting absentee, or voting in person.
- The terms poll watchers, poll monitors, and citizen observers are interchangeable, and they can be partisan or nonpartisan.
- Ranked choice voting is “an electoral system in which voters rank their choice of candidate by ordered preference, with those rankings used to determine a winner in the event no candidate wins a majority of ballots on which they appear as voters’ first preference.”
- While Election Day is capitalized, you should lowercase election night.
- The @APStylebook handle tweeted in November “Do not describe an election as disputed based on the claims of a candidate who disagrees with the outcome but is unable or unwilling to provide evidence of fraud or malfeasance.” These claims require assessment by reputable sources.
Happy holidays from the entire Beyond Bylines team! And if you’re writing about the holidays, here’s one more reminder on which to end the year:
A bit early for this one. But in honor of the AP Stylebook's Jerry Schwartz, who retires today, we present this gem that Jerry crafted: Santa Claus and Santa are nice in any reference. Naughty: Using Claus on second reference. Mrs. Claus is acceptable for Santa’s wife.
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) November 22, 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.