CHAP 06 by changcheng2



Newspapers have style guides to avoid inconsistencies that irritate readers or cause them to

wonder about the paper's credibility or its editors' qualifications. Dictionaries give alternative

spellings for some words, and grammar books don't always agree on punctuation rules. Foreign

words, such as Hanaukka and czar, can be spelled more than one way. Is California abbreviated

CA, Cal. or Calif.? Does a candidate for public office hold a fund raiser, a fund-raiser or a

fundraiser? When is jeep capitalized and when is it lowercase?

   This chapter highlights the need for a consistent style and some of the more common

problems with style. We also will discuss how to use “The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel

Briefing on Media Law,” the most widely used newspaper stylebook in the United States.

   In terms of style, a well-edited newspaper speaks with one voice. Readers notice when

judgment is spelled without the middle "e" in one story and with the "e" (judgement) in another

story. Even worse is spelling a word such as adviser both with an "e" and with an "o" (advisor) in

the same story or using Moslem and Muslim interchangeably. Many readers cringe when they

read a sentence like this: The mayor convinced the council to support his tax plan, because they

know the correct word is persuade, not convince. Allowing these kinds of errors and

inconsistencies results in chaos in the paper and fosters mistrust in readers.

[1]Newspaper Style

The set of rules to ensure consistent word usage, spelling, abbreviations, capitalizations and

punctuation is called mechanical style. A newspaper's mechanical style should not be confused

with a writer’s personal style. H.L. Stevenson, editor-in-chief of United Press International in

1977, said in the foreword to UPI's expanded stylebook published that year that the book "is not

intended to limit creative talent or to provide restrictive formulas for writing and editing. It is,

rather, a set of consistent guidelines that reflect current usage." Copy editors should not change a

reporter's writing style without good reason, but they should make sure that the writing is clear

and concise and that it follows their paper's mechanical style.

    Most newspapers follow the style guidelines developed jointly by The Associated Press and

United Press International. The two news services began working together on a stylebook in the

1950s at the behest of the hundreds of newspapers in the country that used both wire services.

The editors at these papers wanted the two services to adopt a uniform style for spelling,

abbreviations, capitalization, Arabic numerals and punctuation. The stylebook has undergone

several major revisions and is updated annually.

    AP and UPI publish separate stylebooks, but the style guides are nearly identical with only a

few minor exceptions. AP’s stylebook is the more widely distributed of the two and can be found

in almost every newsroom in the United States. The stylebook is updated regularly to reflect

changing attitudes and to add new vocabulary. In the 1980s, for example, AP said gay, in

reference to homosexuals, could be used only as an adjective (a gay couple); it could not be used

as a noun (A gay has been elected to the school board.). By 1990, AP described gay as a popular

synonym for homosexual and was acceptable as both an adjective and a noun.

    The 1994 edition of the stylebook defined cop as an often derogatory term for police officers

and said the word should be confined to direct quotes. Newer editions of the stylebook say cop

now may be used “in lighter stories and in casual, informal descriptions." Finally, the latest

version of the stylebook has been updated to include a separate section for Internet terms.

    Many newspapers have their own style guides to supplement the AP stylebook. These

stylebooks help the editors be consistent when referring to local landmarks and institutions as

well as the names and titles of local public figures. The stylebook might say, for example, that

the local state university should be referred to as Cal State Fullerton rather than California State

University, Fullerton or Fullerton State University and that Dean William Poindexter prefers to

be called Dean Bill Poindexter.

   Some major publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles

Times have replaced AP's stylebook with their own guidelines. These stylebooks in some

instances duplicate the AP stylebook, but they expand on the AP stylebook's entries and offer

additional reference material. “The Los Angeles Times Style and Usage Guide,” for example, has

more word-usage entries than AP's stylebook and has expanded reference guides to computer and

court terminology and many other subjects.

     The stylebooks of some major publications also sometimes contradict AP. The New York

Times uses courtesy titles, and AP discourages the use of Mr., Mrs., Miss and Ms. The Los

Angeles Times uses the % sign, and AP says to spell out percent. The New York Times says

someone who prays is a worshiper, and AP spells the word worshipper. The New York Times

also has its owns rules for apostrophes. These variations from AP’s stylebook” are not important.

Style is whatever the newspaper's editors say it is. What is important is that the copy editors

make sure that their newspaper's style is consistently enforced.

[1]The Associated Press Stylebook

   “The Associated Press Stylebook” is organized like a dictionary. Does re-elect really require

a hyphen? Look up the word. Or you can check the re- entry or the prefixes entry for the general

rules of prefixes. Do you always capitalize pope? Look up the word or check the capitalization or

religious titles entries. All entries are boldfaced and in alphabetical order.

   [Comp: I would rather see this as a box (like prior edition) than a figure, because it’s


                                            AP Stylebook Entries

 cabinet Capitalize references to a specific body of         The entry word is always in boldface. Its
 advisers heading executive departments for a president,     spelling, capitalization, etc. represent the
 king, governor, etc.: The president-elect said he has not   accepted form unless indicated otherwise.
 made his Cabinet selections.                                Usage examples are in italic.

 The capital letter distinguishes the word for the
 common noun meaning cupboard, which is lowercase.
 See department for a listing of all the U.S. Cabinet

 Cabinet titles Capitalize the full title when used before   The text explains the usage.
 a name; lowercase in other uses: Secretary of State
 Cyrus R. Vance, but Juanita M. Kreps, secretary of
 commerce. See titles.

 cactus, cactuses                                            Many entries give correct spelling,
                                                             capitalization and/or abbreviations without any
 cadet See military academies.                               text explaining the usage.

 Caesarean section

 caliber The form: .38 caliber pistol. See weapons.          References to related topics are in boldface.

 California Abbrev.: Calif. See state names.

]End Box]

       Memorizing AP's stylebook would be difficult, if not impossible, and no one expects

editors to do so. Copy editors, however, do need to know what is in the stylebook and how to

look it up. The key to maintaining style is to know what you don't know so you know when to

look up words or style questions.

       If the word is not in the stylebook, use “Webster's New World Dictionary, Fourth

Edition,” published by IDG Books, as your reference for correct spelling, capitalization,

abbreviation and usage. If Webster's gives more than one spelling of a word, use the first spelling

listed or the spelling that is followed by the full definition.

        Some of the most common problems with style deal with numerals, capitalization,

prefixes and suffixes, and abbreviations. A brief explanation of AP style follows.


In general, spell out one-digit numbers (zero through nine) and fractions less than one, and use

figures for larger numbers or numbers with fractions. This rule has many exceptions: Use figures

for ages, dimensions, speeds and percents. With the exception of years, spell out numbers at the

start of a sentence. Here are some examples of usage:

                She is 3 years old.

                Jack can walk 2 miles per hour; he walked five miles yesterday.

                The entry-way rug is 3 feet by 12 feet.

                Two thousand three hundred ninety-two people voted for Mayor Harold Jenkins.

Starting sentences with large numbers, as in the last example, should be avoided. The following

is an improvement:

                Mayor Harold Jenkins received 2,392 votes.

                Jenkins received 91 percent of the vote. One of his challengers received 8.5

                percent of the vote, and the other challenger received 0.5 percent.

                Temperatures reached 5 degrees in Fargo and zero in Billings.

The numerals entry in the stylebook also lists several separate entries for the various uses of

cardinal numbers.


Avoid unnecessary capitalization. Words that should be capitalized include the following:

   [BL]>Sentences. Capitalize the first word of a sentence.

   >Proper nouns. Capitalize words that give a unique identification to a person, place or thing:

Robert, Sally, London, North America, World War II.

   >Proper names. Capitalize common nouns such as east, avenue, ocean or party when they

are part of the name of a unique person, place or thing: East 57th Avenue, Pacific Ocean,

Republican Party. Lowercase common nouns when they are used as plurals: First and Main

streets, Atlantic and Arctic oceans, Republican and Democratic parties.

   >Popular names. Capitalize commonly used popular names for a place even if the names are

not official designations: the Southland for Southern California, the South Side of Chicago, the

Fed for the Federal Reserve Bank, Big Board for the New York Stock Exchange, the Big Easy

for New Orleans.

   >Derivatives. Capitalize words derived from proper nouns that depend on the proper noun for

their meaning: Marxist, Calvinist, Christian, American, Bermuda shorts, Orwellian. Lowercase

derivatives that no longer depend on their proper noun for their meaning: venetian blinds,

quixotic, french fries, narcissism, brussels sprouts.

   >Compositions. Capitalize the principal words in titles of books, movies, poems, songs,

plays, etc. and put quotation marks around them: "The Agony and the Ecstasy," "A Child's

Christmas in Wales." Newspapers and magazines do not have quotation marks: Time magazine,

the San Francisco Chronicle.

   >Personal titles. Capitalize formal titles immediately before a person's name: Pope John

Paul II, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, President George W.

Bush. But do not capitalize titles when there is no name or when the name comes after the title:

the pope; Tony Blair, British prime minister; George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United


   >Brand names and registered trademarks. Wind Breakers, Deepfreeze, Kleenex, Band-Aid

and similar names should always be capitalized. Many trademark words are in the stylebook.

[end BL]

The capitalization entry in the stylebook lists several capitalization-related entries including

animals, holidays, government bodies, food, titles and magazine names.


When using prefixes, the main concern is whether the word requires a hyphen. The three general

rules in the stylebook regarding the use of hyphens with prefixes are:


1. Use a hyphen when the prefix is repeated: sub-subparagraph, post-postmodern art.

2. Use a hyphen when the main word is capitalized: ex-President Bill Clinton, pro-Syrian


3. Use a hyphen when the last letter of the prefix is the same vowel as the first letter of the main

   word: anti-inflation, re-elect. The two exceptions are coordinate and cooperate. This rule

   runs contrary to many of the first-listed spellings in “Webster's New World Dictionary.”

   Some of the more common prefixes with separate entries in stylebook are: anti-, co-, pre-,

   pro-, re-, semi- and trans-.

If the stylebook does not list the specific prefix or word and the three general rules don't seem to

apply, refer to “Webster's New World Dictionary” to determine if a hyphen is needed.


As with prefixes, the chief concern when using suffixes is whether the word requires a hyphen.

Many common suffixes are listed in the stylebook, including: -down, -fold, -over, -up and -wise.

    Look up the suffix in question in the stylebook before checking “Webster's New World

Dictionary” in case the stylebook differs from the dictionary. If the word is not in the stylebook

or the dictionary, make it two words if it is used as a verb and hyphenate it if it is used as a noun

or adjective:

        I walk up two flights of stairs to my apartment.

        I live in a walk-up apartment.

        The Freedonian military has decided to pull out of southern Sylvania.

        The pullout could endanger settlements near the border.


Many titles are abbreviated when they are used in front of a name. These include the Rev, Gov.,

Sen., Rep., Dr. and military titles. Entries for titles can be found in the stylebook under courtesy

titles, legislative titles, military titles and religious titles.

    Abbreviate corporation, company, incorporated and limited only when they are the last word

in a company's title: Xerox Corp., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    Abbreviate Avenue, Boulevard and Street and compass directions only in numbered

addresses. Do not abbreviate other designations for a roadway:

        The president lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

        The White House is on Pennsylvania Avenue.

        The Duke Museum is at 17985 S. Arrow Blvd.

        The Duke Museum is on South Arrow Boulevard.

Abbreviations of states are given in state names in the stylebook or in the specific state entry.

[2]Time References

Always use the day of the week rather than “yesterday” or “tomorrow.”

   [2 col.]

       Original:       The president is speaking in Baltimore tomorrow.

       Edited:         The president is speaking in Baltimore Tuesday.

   Use “today” when you are referring to the current today.

       The president is speaking in Baltimore today.

   Never abbreviate March, April, May, June or July. Abbreviate other months only when you

are giving a specific date. Use these abbreviations: Jan. Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.

   [2 col.]

       Original:       School starts August 25.

       Edited:         School starts Aug. 25.

       Original:       School starts the last week in Aug.

       Edited:         School starts the last week in August.

   Use figures for the time of day except midnight and noon, and lower case and use periods

with p.m. and a.m. Use a colon to separate hours and minutes; do not use 00 to indicate the top of

the hour.

   Using morning, afternoon or evening is redundant if you are using p.m. or a.m.

       Original:       The accident happened at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

       Edited:         The accident happened at 3 a.m. Sunday.

       Original:       The game will start at 7:05 p.m. this evening.

       Edited:           The game will start at 7:05 p.m.

       Original:         The meeting is scheduled for 12 noon.

       Edited:           The meeting is scheduled for noon.

[2]Other Topics

“The Associated Press Stylebook” also is a good reference source for several other topics. For

example, the main part of the stylebook defines weather, earthquake, weapons and nuclear terms;

various world religions and denominations, with the proper word usage for them; and the federal

court system. The book has separate chapters explaining the rules of punctuation as well as

guidelines for sports and business styles. It also offers a libel manual and a guide on how to

obtain documents through the Freedom of Information Act.

[CL]Checklist: Editing for Style

> Do not change a reporter’s writing style without good reason.

> Consult your AP stylebook for the rules on capitalization, abbreviations, numerals, and

prefixes and suffixes.

> Use “Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition,” as your source for correct

spelling if the word is not in the AP stylebook.

> Use the first spelling given in “Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.”

> Capitalize brand names and registered trademarks.

[I]Internet Resources

American Copy Editors Society.

Atlanta Journal Constitution stylebook.

Copy Editor.

Crusty Old Slot Man’s Copy-Editing Peeve Page.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin stylebook.

National Public Radio’s “Ethics and Style Guidebook.”

The SLOT: A spot for Copy Editors.

Wired style.

[E]Exercise 1: Word Usage

Use your stylebook to determine which word in parentheses is correct, and circle it.

1.    I (pedal/peddle) magazines door-to-door.

2.    Indiana Jones (pored/poured) over ancient Mayan tablets.

3.    Ethical journalists should stand by their (principals/principles).

4.    Sen. John Smelling, who dropped out of the presidential primaries in March, has

      (reentered/re-entered) the race.

5.    The Watergate Hotel burglars (rifled/riffled) through most of the papers at the Democratic


6.    The theatrical (troop/troupe) will perform Hamlet in the campus amphitheater Friday.

7.    I can’t stand the hot (weather/temperatures) in Las Vegas.

8.    New York City firefighters from (Company/Co.) 25 will be honored by the New York state


9.    Plans for the inauguration ceremonies are already (under way/underway).

10.   Mozart learned to play the violin when he was (five/5).

11.   The Aluminum (Company/Co.) of America is now known as Alcoa (Incorporated/Inc.)

12.   Tom Cruise is a member of Actors' Equity (Assn./Association).

13.   I live at 112 Day (Ave./Avenue).

14.   I live on the (100/one hundred) block of Day (Ave./Avenue).

15.   Police (Det./Detective) Carl Jackson brought a (thermos/Thermos) of coffee with him to the


[E]Exercise 2: Word Usage

Use your stylebook to determine which word in parentheses is correct, and circle it.

1.    The senator said she is (eager, anxious) to debate the merits of the bill.

2.    Advertising (linage, lineage) has (rose, risen) substantially during the past year.

3.    Fruits and vegetables are considered (healthy, healthful) foods.

4.    The (burglary, robbery) at the store was committed while the store was closed for the


5.    Most of the payment is applied to interest, not the (principle, principal), on the home loan.

6.    The senator’s appointment to the appropriations subcommittee will (affect, effect) how

      much money the state will receive.

7.    The (affect, effect) of the testimony was overwhelming.

8.    Tiger Woods may be the greatest golfer of (all-time, all time).

9.    (Beside, Besides) his low self-esteem, the college freshman lacked the proper skills for

      the team.

10.   The hotel had a (complement, compliment) of 50 bell captains and 50 valet attendants.

11.   Fifty states (compose, comprise, constitute) the United States.

12.   The economic upheavals in Latin American have prompted many people to (immigrate,

      emigrate) to America.

13.   She (flaunted, flouted) her musical abilities.

14.   He wished he could have purchased the artist’s (palate, palette, pallet) at the auction.

15.   Those (people, persons) don’t understand the role of the committee.

[E]Exercise 3: Hyphenation

The asterisks (*) represent where hyphens might go in the following sentences. Remove the

asterisks and make the necessary corrections to the sentences.

1.    The president decided to shake*up his cabinet.

2.    They gave her a terrific send*off.

3.    The FBI stand*off lasted more than 70 days.

4.    Madonna is on a world*wide tour.

5.    Most race tracks have the horses run in a clock*wise direction.

6.    The corporate shake*up resulted in several lay*offs.

7.    It was a sell*out crowd.

8.    The auto workers staged a sit*down strike.

9.    The plant employees staged a walk*out.

10.   The city's crime rate has grown ten*fold.

11.   The vote to walk*out was unanimous.

12.   The launch count*down will begin at 6 a.m.

13.   Jackson is a hold*over from the last administration.

14.   Let's pick*up some take*out food.

15.   Hurry and chow*down, and then get back to work.

[E]Exercise 4: Hyphenation

The asterisks (*) represent where hyphens might go in the following sentences. Remove the

asterisks and make the necessary corrections to the sentences.

1.    He took along his camera as an after*thought.

2.    I get along with the co*owner of my business because we treat each other as co*equals.

3.    The senator described himself as ultra*conservative.

4.    Journalists should not pre*judge people.

5.    He can out*talk anyone on campus.

6.    I enjoy an after*lunch nap.

7.    We plan to re*cover our sofa this year.

8.    She is doing post*graduate work.

9.    He's an all*around good athlete.

10.   The Navy hopes to re*cover its sunken patrol boat.

11.   The coroner performed a post*mortem on the body.

12.   I always favor the under*dog in the playoffs.

13.   Both anti*abortion and abortion*rights groups plan to hold rallies at the clinic.

14.   They use their sub*basement as a storm shelter in case of tornadoes.

15.   She set several pre*conditions for her co*operation.

[E]Exercise 5: Minimum Wage Bill

You are a copy editor with the Fullerton Times. Using “The Associated Press Stylebook” as a

guide, edit the following news article for Wednesday’s edition for style, spelling, grammar, logic,

syntax and factual errors. Also correct any awkward writing. Include comments about any

information in the story that is incomplete or illogical.

     10 members of the Fullerton chapter of the League of Woman Voters are in the state capitol

Wednesday lobby against a state bill that is supposed to exempt several types of workers from

the State Minimum Wage Law.

     Mrs. Sarah Johnson, President of the Fullerton chapter of the League of Woman Voters,

claimed that she and the other league members plan to meet with state Senators from local area

as well as with members of the Senate labor committee.

     The bill, SB 4503, would exempt from the Minimum Wage Law persons who work in the

hotel, restaurant and garment industries; domestic and laundry workers; and hospital aides. It was

introduced in the Senate last month.

     The League members met at their club house, at 6974 Turnbull Rd., last night to plan their

strategy for Tuesday's meetings.

     Mrs. Johnston contend last night that the bill is mean-spirited and it's longterm affect "is

intended to insure that the working poor remain at the poverty level, which for a family of 4 is

$17.65 thousand dollar a year."

     The bill is presently in the Senate labor committee.

[E]Exercise 6: Bomb Scare

You are a copy editor with the Wessex Town Crier. Using “The Associated Press Stylebook” as

a guide, edit the following news article for Saturday’s edition for style, spelling, grammar, logic,

syntax and factual errors. Also correct any awkward writing. Include comments about any

information in the story that is incomplete or illogical.

        A beeping pager summoned Wessex Police and Fire Dept. workers along with the Bomb

Squad to the Postoffice at 321 1st Street yesterday morning.

        Mel Colley, Postmaster, called the Police Dept. after a postal worker heard strange noices

coming from a package, which was eight by 10 by 6 inches in sized and weight about two and a

half lbs.

        Postmaster Colley then evacuated the building. The police, which had also called the Fire

Dept. and Bomb Squad as a precaution, ordered another one-square-block cleared to insure

public safety.

        The Bomb Squad x-rayed the bomb and discovered it was actually a motorolla phone

page that was set to "vibrate."

        One it was determined that the device was unharmful, everyone went back to work.


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