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Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash.
It's time for another quarterly AP Stylebook recap. With some timely events in the news, including the Academy Awards, March Madness, and more, we thought it'd be a good time to review AP style rules and reminders related to these events.
Have another topic you'd like to see covered in a future recap? Let the team know!
🎞️ Academy Awards
Awards season is here and that means it’s the perfect time to brush up on a few entertainment-related terms:
- Lowercase the red carpet (and note that it’s not always red – it was champagne at this year’s Oscars).
- Also, notice that the color champagne is lowercase, but the beverage Champagne is capitalized because it’s from Champagne, France.
- Lowercase the academy and the awards when they stand alone.
- Hollywood is a district in the city of Los Angeles and is not a dateline.
- It’s paparazzi (plural) and paparazzo (singular).
- Use quotation marks around the titles of songs, movies, and books. For example, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was the big winner this year.
🌧️ Weather/Natural Disasters
The past few months have been full of extreme weather events across the globe, including winter storms, earthquakes, and atmospheric rivers. So let’s review a few weather-related terms and AP Style rules.
- Blizzards involve wind speeds of 35 mph or more and considerable falling and/or blowing of snow with visibility of less than one-quarter mile for three or more hours.
- The plural of tornado is tornadoes.
- Cyclones are storms with strong winds rotating about a moving center of low atmospheric pressure.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice (about June 21) has the longest period of sunlight; the winter solstice (about Dec. 21) has the shortest period of sunlight.
- When referencing the magnitude of an earthquake, don’t use hyphens: a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a magnitude 7.8 quake are both correct.
- It’s considered heavy snow when accumulation reaches 4 inches or more in 12 hours or 6 inches or more in 24 hours.
- Hurricane season runs from June through November in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, from May 15 through Nov. 30 in the eastern Pacific, and from June 1 through Nov. 30 in the central Pacific.
- The Santa Ana wind is a weather condition in Southern California in which strong, hot, dry, dust-bearing winds descend on the Pacific Coast from inland desert regions.
- A nor'easter (the term used by the National Weather Service) is a storm that either exits or moves north along the East Coast, producing winds blowing from the northeast.
We’re a few months into 2023 and there are still plenty of upcoming sports events that you may need to write about. Here are a few helpful reminders:
- The annual college basketball championships are referred to as March Madness. Other terms related to the tournament include Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four.
- Anyone like me and have no clue what offsides means? AP Stylebook defines it like this: “Offside occurs when a player is nearer to his opponent's goal line than the second-to-last opponent when a ball is passed to him by a teammate. It does not apply if the player is in his half of the field.”
- Use figures when referencing points (a final score of 21-7) and team records (a record of 3-7).
- The place where sports bets are accepted, either in person or online, is a sportsbook (one word).
- No hyphen in esports, unless it’s part of a formal name, like an arena or organization.
- Use two words for motor sports.
🧑🤝🧑 Gender-neutral language
With recent criticism of edits to several Roald Dahl books in order to remove “colorful language” to make them more acceptable to modern readers, I thought it’d be a good time to review AP Stylebook rules surrounding gender-neutral terms.
- Use businessperson or business owner (not businessman or businesswoman), crew, staff, workforce, workers (not manpower), search (not manhunt), server (not waiter or waitress), hero (not heroine), and firefighter (not fireman).
- Regardless of sexual orientation, the term husband for a man or wife for a woman is acceptable in all references to people in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested or as a gender-neutral option.
Read more in AP Stylebook’s guide to inclusive storytelling.
I don’t know about you, but I constantly must be reminded of when to abbreviate months and how to format times. And as we're all still adjusting to daylight saving time (note the lowercase and no "savings"), why not have a refresher?
Here are a few helpful reminders:
- Use Arabic figures, without additions like nd and st.
- When used with a specific date, these months should be abbreviated as such: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell them out when used alone or with only a year.
- Biannual means twice a year and is a synonym for the word semiannual. Biennial means every two years.
- Use time zone abbreviations (EST, PST, etc.) only when necessary for the story.
- No need to include the year when a phrase refers to a month and day within the current year (for example, The hearing is scheduled for June 26). If the reference is to a past or future year, include the year and set it off with commas, like this: Feb. 14, 2025, is the target date.
- Include periods in a.m. and p.m. (The party started at 6 p.m.)
In keeping with dictionary recommendations, it’s doughnut, not donut.
FYI: National Doughnut Day is Friday, June 2. Mark your calendars and celebrate appropriately. We'll return with our next AP style recap in June!
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Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision and has been with the company since 2010. In addition to writing content for Beyond Bylines and the Cision blog, she works with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky also counsels on SEO and content writing best practices.