2019: Some changes coming to the June 2019 edition of the AP stylebook
Use the % sign.
Use the % sign instead of writing out “percent.”
Old way: 25 percent.
New way: 25% (no space).
Data is singular.
In writing for a general journalistic audience, “data” now takes a singular verb. “The data confirms his claim.”
Scientific and academic writing usually give “data” a plural verb: “The data confirm our hypothesis, but only in part.”
Changes in hyphens
Drop the hyphen in African American, Asian American, etc.
Drop the hyphen in compound modifiers after “to be” verbs as in this example:
The food was first rate.
A well-known judge. The judge is well known.
Drop the hyphen from compound modifiers that are clear and easily understood:
The AP’s examples of correct usage include:
third grade teacher, chocolate chip cookie, early morning traffic, climate change report, first quarter touchdown, real estate transaction.
Drop the hyphen from “ee” words made with pre- and re-, such as:
Use fewer hyphens in general. The basic rule remains: Consult the stylebook. If it does not provide an answer, use hyphens if they are necessary so readers can understand and avoid confusion. Otherwise, leave them out.
The hyphen remains in instances that have their own entries in the stylebook. For example:
A charge of first-degree murder may also be called a charge of murder in the first degree.
A part-time student attends school part time.
It is possible that some of these rules could change when the print version of the 2019 stylebook is published and the online edition of the stylebook is completely updated.
It’s OK to split infinitives.
It is acceptable to sometimes split an infinitive or break the components apart in the compound form of a verb, if this makes the sentence easier to understand.
In the previous sentence, “to split” and “break apart” have been separated to illustrate the point.
Use no quotation marks around these titles.
Use no quotes around software titles, apps, games (video games, board games).
Casualties might refer to injuries or deaths. Be specific.
Use “suspect” correctly.
Suspect: person believed to have committed a crime.
If an unknown person definitely committed a crime, don’t call them a suspect. (Notice the appropriately ungendered use of “them” here, which is acceptable in AP style.)
Entry on Latino, Latina, Latinx.
There are new entries on sex, gender, race and ethnicity.
Some gender and ethnic terms are in transition, and readers may not be know what they currently mean. Use Latinx only in quotes or when requested to, and then only by adding the explanation that is it used as a gender-neutral term.
Use Dr. on first reference only for medical doctors.
Use “Dr.” on first reference only when referring to doctors in one of the many medical fields. For persons with doctoral degrees in other fields, explain the degree first, then you can call them Dr., if you must.
Avoid “Indian” for Native Americans.
“American Indian” and “Native American” both acceptable. Never use just “Indian” when referring to American Indian. When possible, identify the tribe.
As usual, there are dozens of additions to the stylebook to help journalists write about this changing world.
2018: Some Recent Changes to AP Style Worth Noting
“They” can sometimes be used in the singular.
For a good summary, 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 now sections clarifying terms related to gender, immigration, and cyberattacks. The usage get complicated and is worth looking up.
The terms web and internet should be used lowercase.
3D is written without a hyphen.
homepage, smartphone, smartwatch, grassroots, livestream, livestreaming, microgreens, eggshell, dashcam, heatstroke, backstage, doughnut, landline, womenswear, takeout, wineglass – all are one word —
— but not egg roll, jerry-built, oil field, cross-dresser, car wash, cross-country, all-star, drop-down, dog walker, ride-hailing, seat belt, drive-by, first aid, face-lift, flash mob, man-made, voice track, voice-over, sound bite, tie-dye, year-round, e-book, zip line.
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. (Spell out “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).
Walmart is spelled as one word.
Use cross-dresser instead of transvestite.
The AP has dropped its special use of collide. Previously, two objects could collide only if both were in motion. Starting in 2018, a moving object may collide with a stationary object in AP style: The car collided with the tree.
AP has dropped its insistence that persuade and convince have different meanings. They are now interchangeable.
Old rule: the witness’ seat. New rule: the witness’s seat. Use apostrophe-s to form the possessive of singular common nouns ending in -ss, even if the following word begins with s.
Don’t start a sentence with a numeral except for:
- the year — “1968 was a turbulent year for many countries.”
- a number-letter combination, such as 3D.