Quick Guide to Associated Press Style
At Dakota Wesleyan University, we adhere to the Associated Press Style of writing. We use it for press releases, brochures, event programs, media guides and nearly every other official campus publication. Since many people are not familiar with this style of writing, this is a quick guide to some of the basic rules of AP Style as they relate to abbreviation, capitalization, use of punctuation and other helpful items to encourage consistency. A copy of the stylebook is available for reference in the university relations office.
Postal abbreviations should never be used in a press release. However, in other printed material, such as media guides, postal abbreviations are OK. When using state names in text, do not abbreviate the state, always spell it out. Example: "The runner was from Colorado." Not: "The runner was from Colo."
When writing information in which a student's hometown is listed followed by the state, use the following abbreviations.
There are eight states in the union that are always spelled out and not abbreviated. They are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.
Months of the year
Some months are abbreviated, while others are not.
Examples: "The tournament is set for Jan. 23-27." Never use "Jan. 23rd through Jan. 27th" in press releases.
Times, days and dates
When listing a time and date, follow this format: "The game starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, in the Corn Palace."
Always use the proper names of campus buildings. You can make reference in a release to the wellness center or the campus center but neither is the proper name of the building and would not be capitalized.
Proper names of buildings on campus: Smith Hall, Graham Hall, Prather Hall, Hughes Science Hall, Allen Hall, Dayton Hall, Rollins Campus Center, Grandy Alumni House, DWU Day Care and Christen Family Recreation/Wellness Center.
Occasionally, specific rooms are mentioned in releases or publicity materials. Here are some examples. Patten-Wing Theatre, Nold Lecture Room, Campus View Room, East Main Dining Room, Weston Food Court and Knox Conference Room. When in doubt about a specific name, ask.
A good rule to follow: ALWAYS CHECK. Print out a list of all the students from our Web site. Even if you think you have the name spelled correctly, check it to make sure. On campus we have several students with the name Jamie, for instance, but it is spelled in several different ways.
Heights of students
When writing the heights of students for athletics news releases and publicity materials, always use feet and inches after the number. "She is 5 feet 6 inches tall." Do not write, "The five-foot-six-inch woman was a starter for the Tiger team." It is OK to use 6-footer or 7-footer: "Coach Martin signed a 7-footer."
When writing numbers spell out numbers one through nine. Use the numerical form for all others.
When writing someone's age, always use figures. "Chad Larson, 29, of Mitchell, threw the pass." (or) "The 29-year-old Larson is a great guy." (or) "The race is for 29-year-olds." "Larson is in his 20s." (no apostrophe) "Larson, 29, has a brother, 35."
Because we are affiliated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, there may be occasions when you will use the title of an ordained minister such as: "The Rev. Tim Eberhart is involved with the Dakota Wesleyan athletic department." It is always "the Rev. "
Other occupational titles
"Dakota Wesleyan President Robert Duffett" or "Robert Duffett, DWU president." If the title follows the name it is not capitalized, however if it precedes the name, it is. "Coach Doug Martin" or "Doug Martin, basketball coach."
When making reference to departments on campus such as university relations, nursing department or athletics, keep in mind that we only capitalize the proper name of the department. For example: it would be "nursing department" (lower case, not a proper name) or "Dakota Wesleyan University Department of Nursing" (proper name). When in doubt, ask. The same rule applies for capitalization of proper names for buildings, rooms and titles.
There is no comma before the word "and" in a series. "The American flag is red, white and blue." Not: "The American flag is red, white, and blue." Avoid using exclamation points.
Names of newspapers are always in italics, as are names of reference works such as encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Put quotation marks around play titles, books and TV show names. Example: "I enjoyed the article, "Paying for College by Investing on Wall Street" in the last issue of U.S. News and World Report."
Cities that stand alone in datelines and text
There are 30 cities in the United States that stand alone in datelines and when used in text. These 30 cities were determined by the Association Press because of the frequency of the city's appearance in the news. These cities can be found in the dateline section of the stylebook and are:
||Salt Lake City
||(note: D.C. is not used)
There is one exception to this rule. If you are writing a story about two students who are both from Dallas (Dallas, S.D. and Dallas, Texas) you need the state. The dateline rule is also true for foreign cities such as London and Hong Kong. There is a list of foreign countries that stand alone in the stylebook.
Abbreviations and acronyms
Do not follow an organization's full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses. If an abbreviation or acronym would not be clear on second reference without this arrangement, don't use it. Great Plains Athletic Conference, first reference, GPAC second reference.
Words and phases
Here are a few things to remember about certain words and phrases. Spell out the words "Mount" and "Fort" if in the name of a town, such as "Mount Vernon," not "Mt. Vernon," "Fort Pierre" or "Fort Randall" and not "Ft. Pierre." But, "Saint" can be abbreviated, "St. Louis."
Use the phrase "more than," not "over". "Over" implies above or "on top of." "There were more than 100 people at the game," and not; "There were over 100 people at the game."
Always spell out the word "percent." "He works 50 percent of the time," never, "He works 50 % of the time."
Keep in Mind
Writing should be concise and to the point. Use the shortest word or phrase possible. For example, use "before" instead of "prior to," "use" instead of "utilize," "under" instead of "underneath."