Associated Press (AP) Style

The Associated Press (AP) style is used for all print and electronic publications at CTC. Please reference the following style guide when editing documents for publication.

The following Quick Reference is taken in-part from The COM Writing Center: Quick Associated Press Style. A downloadable copy of this information is available on The COM Writing Center web site.


Academic Rank/Titles
In contrast to correspondence style, AP style recommends writers capitalize and spell out academic ranks such as dean or professor when they preceded a name; lowercase in other uses.

EX: Distinguished Professor of History and American Studies John Smith. John Smith, distinguished professor of history and American studies.

Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president, chancellor, chairman, etc. when they precede a name, but lowercase in other uses. Lowercase modifiers such as department. Lowercase "acting" when used as part of title in all uses.

EX: Assistant Professor of Geology Joanne Smith. Joanne Smith, assistant professor of geology. department Chair John Williams. John Williams, department chair. acting Dean John Smith.

Academic Degrees:
Avoid abbreviations. Use abbreviations such as B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many people by degree on first reference would make the preferred method cumbersome; and use the abbreviations only after a full name and set the abbreviations off with commas.

EX: Samuel Cotton, Ph.D., lectured yesterday on bioethics.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc. However, there is no apostrophe in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.

Academic Departments
Use lowercase except forewords that are proper nouns or adjectives (as in part of an official or formal name).

EX: the Department of History, the history department; the Department of English, the English department; University of Connecticut Department of Medicine.

United States

As a noun, United States: The prime minister left for the United States yesterday.

As an adjective, U.S. (no spaces): A U.S. soldier was killed in Baghdad yesterday.

As part of organization names (see the AP Stylebook under "U.S.")

Spell out the names of the states in text when they appear alone: Wildfires continued to rage through southern California yesterday.

Abbreviate them when they appear in conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base: Needham, Mass., Oxnard Air Force Base, Calif.

Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah (the two states that are not part of the contiguous United States and the states that are five letters or fewer).

When abbreviating U.S. states, do so as follows:

Ala. - Alabama
Ariz. - Arizona
Ark. - Arkansas
Calif. - California
Colo. - Colorado
Conn. - Connecticut
Del. - Delaware
Fla. - Florida
Ga. - Georgia
Ill. - Illinois
Ind. - Indiana
Kan. - Kansas
Ky. - Kentucky
La. - Louisiana
Md. - Maryland
Mass. - Massachusetts
Mich. - Michigan
Minn. - Minnesota
Miss. - Mississippi
Mo. - Missouri
Mont. - Montana
Neb. - Nebraska
Nev. - Nevada
N.H. - New Hampshire
N.J. - New Jersey
N.M. - New Mexico
N.Y. - New York
N.C. - North Carolina
N.D. - North Dakota
Okla. - Oklahoma
Ore. - Oregon
Pa. - Pennsylvania
R.I. - Rhode Island
S.C. - South Carolina
S.D. - South Dakota
Tenn. - Tennessee
Vt. - Vermont
Va. - Virginia
Wash. - Washington
W. Va. - West Virginia
Wis. - Wisconsin
Wyo. - Wyoming

Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another after the state name, unless at the end of a sentence or in a dateline (e.g. She traveled from San Diego, Calif. to go to school in Kansas City, Mo. Now, she's thinking of moving to Santa Fe, N.M.)

Put the city name in CAPITAL LETTERS, usually followed by the state, country or territory where the city is located.

Domestic and international large cities stand alone in datelines (see the AP Stylebook under "datelines" for a complete listing).

Do not abbreviate Canadian provinces and territories.

In most cases, use the conventionally accepted short form of a nation's official name (e.g. Argentina rather than Republic of Argentina), but there are exceptions.

Use an article with El Salvador (bu not with Gambia, Niger, and so on).

Within stories: Follow the city name with further identification in most cases where it is not in the same state or nation as the dateline city.

Academic Degrees
Avoid abbreviations: Billy Bob, who has a doctorate in philosophy.

Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's degree, etc.

There is no apostrophe in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Sciences.

Use abbreviations such as B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many people by degree on first reference would make the preferred method cumbersome; use the abbreviations only after a full name and set the abbreviations off with commas: Samuel Cotton, Ph.D., lectured yesterday on bioethics.

Always use Arabic figures, with st, nd, rd, or th.

Capitalize months.

When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., SEpt., Oct., Nov., and Dec. (e.g. Oct. 4 was the day of her birthday.)

When a phrase lists only a month and year, do not separate the month and the year with commas. (e.g. February 1980 was his best month.)

When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas, (e.g. Aug. 20, 1964, was the day they had all been waiting for.)

Use figures except for noon and midnight.

Use a colon to separate hours from minutes (e.g. 2:30 a.m.)

4 o'clock is acceptable, but time listings with a.m. or p.m. are preferred.

Affect, effect
Ninety-nine times out of 100, if the word you use is a verb, spell it with an "a," and if it is a noun, spell it with an "e." In these two usages, affect means to influence and effect means the result of an action - and those are by far the most common uses.

EX: How will this affect my grade?; I don't know what the effect will be.

a.m., p.m.
Lowercase, with periods. Avoid the redundant 10 a.m. this morning.

Lowercase for adjective meaning frigid; capitalize for region around the North Pole. Arctic Circle, arctic fox, Arctic Ocean.

Capitalize when referring to U.S. forces. Use lowercase for the forces of other nations. This approach has been adopted for consistency, because many foreign nations do not use army as the proper name.

EX: the U.S. Army, the Army, Army regulations, the French army.

Autoworker, autoworkers
One word when used generically. But Auto Worker when referring specifically to the membership and the activities of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

Capitalize when used with a figure to form a name.

EX: the 3rd Battalion, the 10th Battalion.

Cancel, Canceled, Canceling, Cancellation
Appropriate spellings.

Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when part of a formal name: the House Appropriations Committee. Do not capitalize committee in shortened versions of long committee names: the Special Senate Selection Committee to Investigate Improper Labor-Management Practices, for example, became the rackets committee.

Contractions reflect information speech and writing. Webster's New World College Dictionary includes many entries for contractions: aren't for are not, for example. Avoid excessive use of contractions. Contractions listed in the dictionary are acceptable, however, in informal contexts where they reflect the way a phrase commonly appears in speech writing.

Dean's List
All lowercase in all uses.
EX: He is on the dean's list. She is a dean's list student.

Acceptable in all second references for Matanuska-Susitna. Mat-Su borough is the political entity. However, there is no Mat-Su Valley.
If using as part of the name of an organization, reference how the organization uses the spelling.

Spell out the numbers one through nine; for 10 and up, use Arabic numerals. For ages and percentages, always use Arabic numerals, even for numbers less than 10.

Spell out numerals that start a sentence; if the result is awkward, recast the sentence: Twenty-seven detainees were released yesterday. Yesterday, 993 fishermen entered the college.

The one exception to this rule is in a sentence that begins with a calendar year: 1938 was a turbulent year for Leon.

Use Roman numerals for wars, monarchs and Popes: World War II, King George VI, Pope John XXIII.

The figures 1, 2, 10, 101 and so on and the corresponding words - one, two, ten, one hundred one and so on - are called cardinal numbers. The terms 1st, 2nd, 10th, 101st, first, second, tenth, one hundred first and so on are called ordinal numbers.

For large numbers: use a hyphen to connect a word ending in "y" to another word: twenty-one, one hundred forty-three, seventy-six thousand five hundred eighty-seven.

Do not use commas between other separate words that are part of one number: one thousand one hundred fifty-five.

Spell out casual expressions: A thousand times no!

Proper names: use words or numerals according to an organization's practice: 3M, Twentieth Century Fund, Big Ten.

Apostrophe (')
For plural nouns ending in s, add only an apostrophe: the girls' toys, states' rights.

For singular common nouns ending in s, add 's: the hostess's invitation, the witness's answer.

For singular proper names ending in s, use only an apostrophe: Descartes' theories, Kansas' schools.

For singular proper names ending in s sounds such as x, ce, and z, use 's: Marx's theories, the prince's life.

For plurals of a single letter, add 's: Mind your p's and q's, the Red Sox defeated the Oakland A's.

Do not use 's for plurals of numbers, or multiple letter combinations: the 1980s, RBIs.

Colon (:)
Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence: He promised this: The company will make good all the losses. But: There were three considerations: expense, time and feasibility.

Comma (,)
Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: John, Paul, George and Ringo; red, white and blue.

Use a comma to set off a person's hometown and age: Jane Doe, Framingham was absent. Joe Blow, 34, was arrested yesterday.

Dash (--)
Make a dash by striking the hyphen key twice. Put a space on either side of the dash: Smith offered a plan -- it was unprecedented -- to raise revenues.

Use a dash after a dateline: SOMERVILLE -- The city is broke...

Hyphen (-)
Use a hyphen for compound adjectives before the noun: well-known actor, full-time job, 20-year sentence.

Do not use a hyphen when the compound modifier occurs after the verb: The actor was well known. HEr job became full time. He was sentenced to 20 years.

The perceived need for parentheses is an indication that your sentence is becoming contorted. Try to rewrite the sentence, putting the incidental information in commas, dashes or in another sentence. If you do use parentheses, follow these guidelines:

 - IF the material is inside a sentence, place the period outside of the parentheses.
 - IF the parenthetical statement is a complete independent sentence, place the period inside the parentheses.

Use a single space after the period at the end of a sentence.

Do not put a space between initials: C.S. Lewis; G.K. Chesterton.

Quotation Marks (" ")
IN dialogue, each person's words are placed in a separate paragraph, with quotation marks at the beginning and end of each person's speech.

Periods and commas always go within quotation marks.

Dashes, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

Use single marks for quotes within quotes: She said, "He told me, 'I love you.'"

Southcentral Alaska
The arc between the Gulf of Alaska on the south and the Alaska Range on the north/

state of Alaska
Lowercase when referring to a geographical location. Capitalization when referring to the legal or political entity.

Tech Terms
Please use the spelling (and spacing) below for the following terms:
Internet (Note: capitalization)
World Wide Web
home page
Website (Note: the capital "W")

Of books, computer games, movies, operas, plays, poems, songs, television programs, lectures, speeches and works of art:
Put quotation marks around the title.

Capitalize the first and last words of the title.

Capitalize the principal words, including all verbs and prepositions and conjunctions with more than three letters.

Translate a foreign title into English, unless the American public knows the work by its foreign name: Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zaranthustra"; Mozart's "Magic Flute" BUT "Amores Perros"; "The Bhagavad-Gita."

Of newspapers and magazines:
Do not place in quotation marks.

Capitalize the in the name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known.

Lowercase the before names if listing several publications, some of which use the as part of the name and some of which do not: Time Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Where location is needed but not part of the official name, use parentheses: The Huntsville (Ala.) Times, The Toledo (Ohio) Blade.

Of places:
The best reference for all place names is the "U.S. Postal Service Directory of Post Offices."

The best reference for foreign geographic names is the most recent edition of "Webster's New World College Dictionary." The second=best reference is the "National Geographic Atlas of the World."

Lowercase compass direction: The warm front is moving east.

Capitalize names of U.S. regions: The Northeast depends on the Midwest for its food supply.

The "Middle East" applies to Afghanistan, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Isreal, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The term is preferable to "Mideast."

Of ethnic groups:
The preferred usage for African American is "black." The term is not capitalized.

Preferred usage of Caucasians is "white," also not capitalized.

Preferred usage for Asian people is "Asian," capitalized. Please note that in British usage the term applies only to people of the Indian Subcontinent.

"American Indian," capitalized with no hyphen, is preferred over "Native American."

Of seasons:
Lowercase "spring," "summer," "fall" and "winter" and derivatives such as "wintertime" unless part of a formal name: I love Paris in the springtime; the Winter Olympics.

United States
U.S. is acceptable as a noun or adjective for United States. 

ZIP Code
Use all-caps ZIP for Zoning Improvement Plan, but always lowercase the word code.