AP Style Rules & Reminders for the Summer

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.

Summer is upon us and with it comes a wave of seasonal celebrations. If you’ll be covering Pride Month, the Paris Olympics or back-to-school season, we’ve got you covered with our quarterly recap of timely AP Style rule reminders. And remember, seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter, springtime and summertime) are lowercase unless part of a formal name.

Dive in to refresh your memory or learn something new!

Pride Month

Pride Day is officially June 28 but is observed internationally on and in the days before the last Sunday in June, with some celebrations happening at other times of the month or year.

  • LGBTQ+ is acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and/or questioning, plus other sexual and gender minorities.
    • Avoid using LGBTQ+ to describe individuals, and don’t default to LGBTQ+ if discussing a more specific population, like a bisexual advocacy group or a transgender health program.
  • Many LGBTQ+ people now use the word queer as a point of empowerment to refer to a sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • Because of its origins as a slur, queer is not universally accepted among LGBTQ+ people, and its use tends to be more prevalent among younger generations. Use caution when it’s used in ways other than to describe the way an individual identifies, in the names of organizations or in a direct quote.
  • Capitalize Pride when referring to events or organizations honoring LGBTQ+ communities and on subsequent references.
    • Mark your calendars for Twin Cities Pride.
    • “Are you going to Pride?” she asked.
    • Several cities are holding Pride events this weekend.
  • Lowercase pride when referring to generic events or the general concept of LGBTQ+ pride.
    • He attended a gay pride parade.


June 19, now a federal holiday in the U.S., is the traditional commemoration date of the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

If you’re covering Juneteenth, here are a few race-related rule reminders:

  • Capitalize Black as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges.
  • African American is also acceptable for those in the U.S. but remember, the terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Follow a person’s preference if known and be specific when possible and relevant.
  • When referencing the global movement to eradicate systemic racism and white supremacy and to oppose violence committed against Black people, either Black Lives Matter as a noun or the Black Lives Matter movement is acceptable. BLM is acceptable on the second reference.

Father’s Day

Note the placement of the apostrophe for this holiday that occurs on the third Sunday in June.

Independence Day

It can be written as July Fourth, Fourth of July or Independence Day. The federal legal holiday is observed on Friday if July 4 falls on a Saturday and on Monday if it falls on a Sunday.

And remember, AP style is barbecue, not barbeque, Bar-B-Q or BBQ.

The Olympics

It’s always capitalized and can also be written as the Olympic Games. There are Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, or Summer Games and Winter Games. Capitalize the Paris Games or the Paris Olympics.

The year always precedes the host city and Olympics: 2024 Paris Olympics, 2024 Paris Games.

When used alone, Games should still be capitalized: The Games begin on July 26.

Plus, note the capitalization of these popular terms:

  • Olympic Village and athletes village
  • Olympic flame
  • Olympic opening ceremony (singular) and closing ceremony (singular)
  • IOC and International Olympic Committee (both acceptable on first reference but use the full name in the story)

Back-to-School Rules

It may still be the beginning of summer, but a new school year will be here before you know it. To help you prepare, here are a few related terms:

  • Note the dashes (or lack thereof): The teacher sent home a list of back-to-school supplies. The students head back to school in August.
  • Use figures and capitalize public school when used with a figure: Public School 3Public School 10.
  • School choice is an umbrella term for education strategies that give parents the option of enrolling children in schools other than the assigned district public school, often using public money. Avoid using the general term when possible; specifics are better: The teachers union objects to the charter school bill; a proposed school voucher bill will be debated next week.
  • Remember, there’s no dash in homeschooling (n.), homeschooler (n.), homeschool (v.) or homeschooled (adj.).
  • Critical race theory is an academic framework that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that those institutions maintain the dominance of white people. The theory is a way of analyzing American history through the lens of racism. Explain the term when used and don’t use CRT on later references.

Bonus: A Recent Punctuation Change

Are you including a bulleted list in your blog post or article? There’s been a recent change you should know about.

AP style now says to use periods at the end of each sentence in a bulleted list, but use no punctuation at the end of a single word or single phrase in each section of a list.

For example, you wouldn’t need periods at the end of the items in this list:

  • Blog posts
  • SEO tips
  • Coding practice

Need more?

In case you missed it, the AP Stylebook now uses Merriam-Webster as its primary dictionary. So if you can’t find a term in the stylebook, its entry in Merriam-Webster will be considered AP style.

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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.

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