Online Style Guide

Below are areas in which our online style will follow or differ from the reliable AP StyleBook. For things that I don’t address here, please refer to AP, or ask with an email.

If you are also coming from a broadcast background like me, you will find all these general rules tedious and annoying. However, we hope you will read through this and refer to it often, so our sites maintain a standard style of awesomeness and clarity. Most notably, remember casing for headlines, which differs from newspapers: Capitalize The First Letter of Each Word in Your Headlines (that aren’t prepositions). And capitalize the first letter of each tag. All the rest of the excitement is after the jump. –Elise

adviser — not advisor

BlackBerry — plural is BlackBerrys

brackets — Use brackets, not parentheses, to set off material that is our editorial insertion within quotations, including within interviews.

captions — Caption all photos unless your image is a clip art. But hopefully you aren’t using clip art.

dates — In text, use the day if it’s within a week; if it’s more than a week ago, or more than a week from now, use the date; for today, use the day, not “today.” In captions, for a general illustration, no date. If it’s depicting an event such as a campaign stop or a congressional talking head, use the appropriate day of the week for the first one and no date on multiples. If it’s historical, use your judgment as to whether just a year suffices or it should have a complete date.

For galleries: Put complete date on first picture, then no date on subsequent ones. For new additions to a running gallery, any older references to the same date should be killed. For the day in pictures gallery, a date is probably unnecessary 99 percent of the time.

fractions — Use full-size figures, not the fraction character automatically generated by MS Word (you can turn these off in the Tools option under AutoFormat and AutoFormat As You Type). For mixed numbers, put a space between the whole number and the fraction: 5 1/2. All mixed numbers should be in numerals, not spelled out.

headlines — Headlines And Subheds Are Up Style With Initial Caps For All Words

headlines for extra audio, video Links — Use a headline treatment for extra audio links or video links. If the extra elements need a fuller description, find a different way to present it.

hyperlinks — Don’t include punctuation in hyperlinks. Don’t include spaces before or after hyperlinks. Example: John Smith works for the Republican National Committee and works out at Gold’s Gym. Don’t italicize titles in a hyperlink; if the link includes something in need of quotation marks, e.g., the title of a magazine article, put them outside the link “like this.”

italics — Italicize names of newspapers, magazines, TV and radio shows, video games, CDs, albums, books, films, plays, musicals and works of art. Song titles, names of exhibits and exhibitions get quotation marks; blogs are Roman. If the name is used in a headline, insert it in single quotation marks. (Example: ‘Crouching Tiger’ Leads Oscar Pack) Do not inlude the ‘s in a possessive (The Wall Street Journal‘s), but write around such a construction if possible. If something within parentheses is completely italicized, the parens should also be italicized: (The New York Times), but (He doesn’t read The Times). Don’t italicize titles in a hyperlink. Foreign words and phrases take italics unless they are proper nouns, which should be capped and Roman. See the NW dictionary (fourth edition) or check with the style editor if unsure.


nonprofit — Use upper case NPR, lower case .org to refer to the website in all text. There is no reason to overemphasize the name of the website in body text.

Numbers — Spell out whole numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above. Example:They had three sons and two daughters. They had a fleet of 10 station wagons and two buses. But 5 percentage points.

Pell Grant

percent — Use a figure (even for numbers 1 through 9) and percent written out. Ex: 1 percent, 2 percent, etc. This is true for caption text as well.

Percentages take a singular verb when standing alone or when a singular word follows an of construction: The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. He said 50 percent of the membership was there.

It takes a plural verb when a plural word follows an of construction: He said 50 percent of the members were there.

Use figures, not fractions: 1 percent, 2.5 percent, 10 percent

For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.

Repeat percent with each individual figure: He said 10 percent to 30 percent of the electorate may not vote.

pushback (noun), push back (verb)

Q & A’s: Sample style is linked. We are working to create a page template to make this easier, but for now, follow the sample.



state abbreviations for legislative titles. Use abbreviated formal title before the name, and the party and state postal code in parentheses after the name. Examples: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR). All other state references are subject to AP Style.

StateImpact one word

StateImpact Texas, Oklahoma, etc. Write out full state name, do not abbreviate after StateImpact, but do not include punctuation between StateImpact and state name. The only exception is for Twitter handle and Facebook page URL.

tags and topics get capitalized when tagging and when adding new ones after posts. Think the same casing style as the headlines. Up Style With Initial Caps For All Words.

website — a location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.

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