Corrections and Additions

Errors that will be Corrected in the Next Edition of Newsroom 101

The brief introduction to commas in a series contains a short section that mistakenly introduces the Oxford comma. That section should read:

In a simple series, omit the “serial” comma — the last one before the conjunction:

  • Red, white [no comma] and blue
  • Army, Navy, Air Force [no comma] and Marines
  • Pick up the laundry, buy toothpaste, get gasoline, return a library book [no comma] and cash a check

What is a “simple series”? — There is no simple answer to this question! Here is a pragmatic definition: If you can omit the “final” comma in a series without confusing readers, then that is a simple series.

Note: Omitting the serial comma is one of the hallmarks of AP style. Some other stylebooks (such as APA and some Freshman English handbooks) use this “extra” comma (which is also known as the Oxford comma).


Some Recent Changes to AP Style

March 24, 2017 update from the AP:

See this report from the Poynter Institute: AP style change: Singular they is acceptable ‘in limited cases’

AP changed its usage of “flyer.”  Use “flyer” now to refer to a handbill or a person flying on a plane. The term “flier” has been restricted to an unusual phrase for taking a risk.

There are new sections clarifying terms related to gender, immigration, and cyberattacks.  

The terms web and internet should be used lowercase, starting June 1, 2016.

IM is the abbreviation for instant message (acceptable on second reference). Its verb forms are IM’ing and IM’d.

Fractions. Spell out fractions less than one: one-half, two-thirds. If greater than one, us a space after the whole number, like this: 1 1/2, 6 2/3. Do not use fractions in percent: 2.5 percent.

Adding a bit of confusion, media can sometimes take a singular verb when it refers to the industry as a whole.

Refer to services like Uber and Lyft as “ride-hailing” or “ride-booking,” not as “ride-sharing.”

Spelling: sheikh; seat belt, safety belt, car wash (two words), a drive-by shooting (note hyphen); ID, LGBT; dashcam, onboard (one word); dis / dissing / dissed; and blue cheese (not bleu).

Use cross-dresser instead of transvestite.

Updated 6-25-2016