People’s World Style Guide

People’s World uses a modified AP Style in the copyediting and formatting of its articles. This sheet is a summary of some important items to remember. A modified form of AP Style means we do some things differently, so check here when in doubt. The sheet is always evolving and may be updated from time-to-time. For any items or issues not listed here, refer to the latest edition of the AP Stylebook. 

Name of our publication

  • The name of the publication is People’s World, not the People’s World. If using the name in an article, it should be italicized.

Cities and states

  • Datelines: Put the city name in capital letters, generally followed by the state or country, and then a long dash. Certain large cities can stand alone; see below. Datelines should only be used when a reporter is or was physically present in a city during the time of their investigating/reporting. If you wrote a story about an event in Detroit but did not actually travel to Detroit at any time for an interview or other work related to the story, don’t use a dateline at all.
  • The following U.S. cities can stand alone and do not require their corresponding state, whether in a dateline, headline, or article text: ATLANTA, BALTIMORE, BOSTON, CHICAGO, CINCINNATI, CLEVELAND, DALLAS, DENVER, DETROIT, HONOLULU, HOUSTON, INDIANAPOLIS, LAS VEGAS, LOS ANGELES, MIAMI, MILWAUKEE, MINNEAPOLIS, NEW ORLEANS, NEW YORK, OKLAHOMA CITY, PHILADELPHIA, PHOENIX, PITTSBURGH, ST. LOUIS, SALT LAKE CITY, SAN ANTONIO, SAN DIEGO, SAN FRANCISCO, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
  • The following international cities can stand alone and do not require their corresponding country, whether in a dateline, headline, or article text: AMSTERDAM, BAGHDAD, BANGKOK, BEIJING, BEIRUT, BERLIN, BRUSSELS, CAIRO, DJIBOUTI, DUBLIN, GENEVA, GIBRALTAR, GUATEMALA CITY, HAVANA, HELSINKI, HONG KONG, ISLAMABAD, MEXICO CITY, MILAN, MONACO, MONTREAL, MOSCOW, MUNICH, NEW DELHI, PANAMA CITY, PARIS, PRAGUE, QUEBEC CITY, RIO DE JANEIRO, ROME, SAN MARINO, SAO PAULO, SHANGHAI, SINGAPORE, ISTANBUL, JERUSALEM, JOHANNESBURG, KUWAIT CITY, LONDON, LUXEMBOURG, MACAU, MADRID, STOCKHOLM, SYDNEY, TOKYO, TORONTO, VATICAN CITY, VIENNA, ZURICH
  • Use UNITED NATIONS alone, without an N.Y. designation, in stories from U.N. headquarters.
  • State names: When used on their own, spell them out: “Massachusetts is on the Atlantic coast.”
  • When there’s a city or party affiliation (such as after a politician’s name), abbreviate the state name: “Cambridge, Mass., is a hip place”; “Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.”
  • Here is how each state is abbreviated in AP style: Alabama (Ala.), Arizona (Ariz.), Arkansas (Ark.), California (Calif.), Colorado (Colo.), Connecticut (Conn.), Delaware (Del.), Florida (Fla.), Georgia (Ga.), Illinois (Ill.), Indiana (Ind.), Kansas (Kan.), Kentucky (Ky.), Louisiana (La.), Maryland, (Md.), Massachusetts, (Mass.), Michigan (Mich.), Minnesota (Minn.), Missisippi (Miss.), Missouri (Mo.), Montana (Mont.), Nebraska, (Neb.), Nevada (Nev.), New Hampshire (N.H.), New Mexico (N.M.), New York (N.Y.), North Carolina (N.C.), North Dakota (N.D.), Oklahoma (Okla.), Oregon (Ore.), Pennsylvania (Pa.), Rhode Island (R.I.), South Carolina (S.C.), South Dakota (S.D.), Tennessee (Tenn.), Vermont (Vt.), Virginia (Va.), Washington (Wash.), West Virginia (W.Va.), Wisconsin (Wis.), Wyoming (Wyo.).
  • Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah (i.e. the two states not joined to the contiguous United States and those with five or fewer letters) are never abbreviated.
  • Whenever abbreviating United States, use U.S., not US, in both headlines and in text.

Numbers

  • One through nine are spelled out, 10 and above are figures (Arabic numerals). If a sentence begins with a number, it should be spelled out or the sentence re-written. The exception is a numeral that identifies a calendar year. Use figures in tables.
  • Percentages: Use figures and the % symbol.
  • Million, billion: Always use figures and spell out the words million and billion.

Time and dates

  • Date: Use numerals for days; do not use st, nd, rd, or th.
  • Abbreviate the months August through February when used with a date: “A strike has been called for Feb. 20.” Do not abbreviate the months March through July.
  • Always spell out months with no dates: “The October Revolution actually took place in November.”
  • Do not separate months and years with a comma: “The newspaper was founded in January 1924.”
  • Set off years with commas when there is a specific date: “The demonstration was held April 1, 1998, and many workers spoke on stage.”
  • When needed in conjunction with a calendar year, use B.C.E. and C.E. (“Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”) rather than B.C. and A.D. (“Before Christ” and “anno Domini”).
  • If writing out the short form for a decade, use the appropriate apostrophe: “The 1960s and ’70s were a time of great social change.”
  • Time: Use lowercase a.m. and p.m., with periods. Always use figures, with a space between the time and the a.m. or p.m.: “By 6:30 a.m., police had cleared the street.” If it’s an exact hour, no “:00″ is required. If a time range is entirely in the morning or evening, use a.m. or p.m. only once: “6:30-10 p.m.” If it goes from the morning into the evening (or vice versa), you need both: “10 a.m.-2 p.m.”

Punctuation

Hyphen: Hyphenate compound adjectives only if required for clarity: “fastest-growing company”; “high-level discussion.” Don’t use hyphens with commonly understood terms, adverbs that end in ly, and between figures and units of measure: “greatly exaggerated claims”; “2 percent rule.” Do not use a hyphen with a compound modifier after the noun: “The driver was well paid.”

Dash:

  • ABRUPT CHANGE: Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause: “The company thought its strategy—which included calling in professional union-busters—would effectively prevent employees from organizing.” But avoid overuse of dashes to set off phrases when commas would suffice.
  • SERIES WITHIN A PHRASE: When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must themselves be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase: He listed the qualities—attentiveness, experience, efficiency, writing ability—that he thought necessary in an editor.
  • ATTRIBUTION: Use a dash before an author’s or composer’s name at the end of a quotation: “Who steals my purse steals trash.” — Shakespeare.
  • IN DATELINES: NEW YORK (AP)—The city is broke.
  • As a general rule, do not put spaces on either side of a dash, except in cases of attribution, as in the quote above.

Comma: In lists of three or more items, use a comma before the conjunction: “The rally required for posters, signs, and banners.” Use a comma to set off a person’s age: “Charles Ruthenberg, 37, was elected to head the new party.”

Period: Use only one space after the end of a sentence. Period.

Colon: Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it’s followed by a complete sentence. Colons go outside quotes unless they’re part of the quoted material.

Semicolon: > Use a semicolon to clarify a series that includes a number of commas within or as a part of a series item. Include a semicolon before the conjunction. Example: “The government seized a wide range of opposition campaign materials, including printed matter such as books, flyers, and newspapers; digital content like videos, audiotapes, and CDs; and publicity materials such as banners and placards.” > A semicolon may also be used in place of a conjunction when joining two sentences together. However, those two sentences need to be closely related. Here is an example: “Two fierce mice hissed at the cat; the surprised feline screeched and ran.” If the sentences shouldn’t be joined together with a conjunction, they shouldn’t be joined with a semicolon, either. > Sometimes, the second sentence of a joined pair will start with an introductory word/phrase such as however, for example, or for instance. In this case, the introductory word/phrase should be followed by a comma.

Apostrophe: An apostrophe indicates possession. Add an ’s to all single nouns and names, even if they already end in an s: “My boss’s vacation begins tomorrow.” For singular proper names ending in s, use only an apostrophe: “Kansas’ crisis.” For plurals of a single letter, add an apostrophe and an s: “Mind your p’s and q’s,” “the Oakland A’s.” Do not use apostrophes for full decades or acronyms: the 1990s, CDs.

Quotation marks: Periods and commas go inside quote marks: “Mrs. Speaker, please answer the question,” she said. The position of dashes, semicolons, exclamation points, and question marks depends on what’s being questioned or exclaimed: Was she right to say, ‘Your shoes are a joke’? For a quotation appearing inside of a quotation, use a single quote mark around the original quote and double quote marks around the words of the person quoting the quote. Example: “The boss dared to tell us, ‘I’m not going to pay you,’” the chief negotiator said while addressing the rally of striking workers.

Parentheses: AP style suggests avoiding parentheses when possible, and instead rewriting the text or using dashes or commas to set off the information. If parentheses are required, the rules are: If the parenthetical is a complete, independent sentence, place the period inside the parentheses; if not, the period goes outside.

Elipses: When truncating text (typically in quotations), use three dots…without spaces. If the material that has been cut includes the end of a sentence, add a fourth dot and a space.

Spaces: Use only one space between sentences.

Acronyms

  • If the organization, legislation, or other thing being referenced only appears once in a story and is not mentioned or referred to again, don’t use an acronym.
  • When it is going to be referenced again, spell out on the first mention. On subsequent mentions, use generic terms such as the board, the division, the party, the bill, the law, etc., if possible. Otherwise, use the acronym in all subsequent mentions.
  • Don’t put acronyms in parentheses after the first reference (for example, “The Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) …”). Spell it out the first time (without the acronym in parentheses), and then use the acronym subsequently.

Government terms

  • Use figures and capitalize district when joined with a figure: the 1st Congressional District, the 1st District.
  • A capital is a city. A capitol is a building.
  • Congress is capitalized when referring to the U.S. Congress or another country’s legislature with the same name. When the word is used as a synonym for a convention, such as in “The Socialist Party congress decided on a policy concerning nationalization,” it is not capitalized.
  • Congressional is typically not capitalized unless it is part of a district designation as above or as part of a proper name.
  • Use Rep., Reps., Sen., and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names. Spell out and lowercase representative and senator in other uses.
  • Capitalize titles for formal, organizational offices within a legislative body when they are used before a name: Speaker Thomas P. O’Neil, Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd, Chairman John J. Sparkman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, etc.
  • Democrat, Democratic Party. Both are capitalized. Don’t use Democrat Party.
  • Republican, Republican Party. Both terms are capitalized. GOP (Grand Old Party) may also be used.
  • tea party. Lowercase the populist movement. Adherents are tea partyers. Formally named groups in the movement are capitalized: Tea Party Express.
  • For any political party—domestic or foreign—capitalize Party when it is part of the formal name, but use lowercase party when the latter word stands alone: The Communist Party of Vietnam held its congress last week in Hanoi. At the meeting, the party announced it would prioritize economic reform.

Titles of Works

  1. Titles in text:

– The title of stand-alone or complete works or publications should be title-cased and italicized. This includes books, e-books, reports (issued by governments, NGOs, or other organizations), newspapers, magazines, dissertations, theses, films, television series, artworks, plays, music albums, unpublished manuscripts.

– The title of parts of a greater whole should be title-cased and placed inside double quotation marks. This includes newspaper articles, journal or magazine articles, book chapters, blog posts, televisions episodes, webisodes or webpages. This rule also applies to shorter works such as poems and songs.

  1. Titles in headlines:

– For article headlines, italics are not used. Instead, if the title of a work is used in a headline, it is set off with single quotes: Anniversary edition of Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’ sees brisk sales

Capitalization

  • Individuals: Capitalize a person’s title only if it precedes his or her name and isn’t modified: “Chief Executive Officer Adam Smith”; “Adam Smith, chief executive officer of Wealth of Nations, Inc.”
  • The names of apps and social network sites are capitalized but not italicized or enclosed with quotes (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Snapchat).
  • New verbs and nouns associated with applications or social media technology names have a variety of rules: Googled is capitalized, but tweet, tweeted, and re-tweeeted are not.
  • Everything else: When in doubt, use sentence-style capitalization.

Headlines

  • In headlines, generally only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
  • If the title of a work is used in a headline, it should be set off with single quotes, as detailed above.
  • Exclamation points should be avoided in headlines whenever possible.
  • When abbreviating United States in a headline, use U.S., not US.
  • For our website, headlines can have no more than 13 words.


CONTRIBUTOR

People’s World Editorial Board
People’s World Editorial Board

People’s World Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief John Wojcik, Managing Editor C.J. Atkins, Social Media Editor Chauncey K. Robinson, Senior Editor Roberta Wood, Senior Editor Joe Sims, Copy Editor Eric A. Gordon, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Mark Gruenberg

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