“A half-dozen staffers and 10 customers hit the floor as the bandits scooped up diamond-encrusted gold chains and other bling-bling favored by rappers and wanna-bes.” —New York Daily News, Jan. 8, 2004
How will Melvyn Tesko differentiate Root- of-all-Evil plc’s new Christmas from this year’s model? Early indications are that the trees will get more bling bling. — The Times of London, Dec. 27, 2003
Style is not … … in this meaning, the way you write your story. Writers, especially feature writers, are entitled to have a degree of personal style in their writing.
Style is … … a set of rules governing such things as: Punctuation. Abbreviation. Capitalization. Spelling choices. Number formatting.
Why style? So our readers won’t be confronted with a confusing array of spellings and uses.
Why style? So we can set a tone for our newspapers. We want neither to be so formal as to seem dry and scholarly to our readers nor so casual as to make us look trivial to our readers.
The President today put aside concerns about Congressional action on the Budget and instead attended the cinema. The president today put aside concerns about congressional action on the budget and instead went to a movie. The prez today quit dissing the budget dawgs long enough to chill watchin’ Britney.
Why should you care? You’re being graded on style.You’re being graded on style. Knowing style makes you appear professional. Following style makes it more likely your articles will be published.
“I still have my dog-eared copy of the AP Stylebook at arm’s reach, and you can tell your classes that I actually refer to it at least once a week. … SAS has a fairly involved editing process for press releases. … The copy editors at SAS consistently thank me for providing error-free (or near error-free) announcements for their review. That j-school training keeps coming through time and again.” — Daniel Teachey, director of public relations DataFlux Corporation (A SAS Company)
He bought six bananas, 10 oranges and 11 apples. Important exceptions: Use figures for ages of people and animals (new rule). He is a 5-year-old boy; the table is eight years old. Use figures for times. The meeting is at 1 p.m. He went home at 3 p.m. Use figures for address numbers. She lives at 7 Main St. Use figures for dimensions. John is 6 feet tall. The board is 4 inches wide. Numbers Spell out numbers one through nine; use figures for 10 and higher.
Spell out any number that begins a sentence. Fifty students attended the lecture.
Times Use lowercase letters and periods for a.m. and p.m. Use noon and midnight, alone, without 12 in front of them. (Technically there is neither a 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.). Add a colon and figures only when you add minutes to the hour. She will lecture at 10:30 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
Commas Drop the serial comma before “and.” He ordered pizza with cheese, sausage and mushrooms.
Months Abbreviate months used in a full date; spell them out otherwise. The girl was born on Aug. 12, 1998. They plan to visit France in August 2003. Exceptions: Never abbreviate March, April, May, June and July. He was born on March 15, 1963. They were married on June 16, 1985.
State Names Abbreviate state names when used after city (or county) names, and surround them with commas. I live in Washington, N.C., but I was born in Orange County, Calif. Exceptions: Never abbreviate these eight states : Alaska Hawaii Idaho Iowa Maine Ohio Texas Utah
Use the Associated Press abbreviations, rather than the postal abbreviations, except in addresses. Spell out states standing alone. State Names I’ve lived in Missouri, Florida, New York and North Carolina.
Addresses Abbreviate Street (St.), Avenue (Ave.) and Boulevard (Blvd.) in full addresses. Spell out all similar words. Abbreviate compass points in addresses. Use figures for an address number. She lives at 115 E. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill. He works at 202 W. Cameron Ave. The house at 11 S. 63rd Terrace is for sale.
Addresses Spell out all such words when used alone. He lives on East Franklin Street. Her home is off Independence Boulevard.
Titles Lowercase and spell out all titles standing alone. The president lives in the White House. The pope lives in the Vatican. The chancellor works in South Building. The senator’s office is in Washington.
Titles Capitalize formal titles before a name and abbreviate according to stylebook rules. He spoke with Chancellor James Moeser, Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. Jesse Helms. Lowercase professor in all uses. I met with professor Jan Yopp in her office.
Days of the Week Use the day, alone, for dates within seven days. The class will meet Monday. Use the date, alone, for dates beyond seven days. He will graduate May 18.
Days of the Week There is no yesterday (or last night). There is no tomorrow. There is today, however. He returned to campus Tuesday. He will go to class Thursday. He will attend the meeting today.
“Yes, we hyphenate bling-bling, but it’s not in the stylebook (nor planned to be) since it’s pretty much fashion jargon and probably shouldn’t be used in civilized company.” —Norm Goldstein, editor of the AP Stylebook