My future students are rejoicing while my past students are groaning. Gone are the days when they will be forced to take multiple quizzes to help them remember how the Associated Press abbreviates state names in stories.
The abbreviations, which are different from postal abbreviations, have caused my students trouble for years, resulting in multiple labs and quizzes to try to help them remember the rules.
The AP announced Wednesday that it will spell out state names in the body of stories. The rule is effective May 1.
Datelines, tables, lists, and photo captions will continue using abbreviations, according to the new rule.
The change will “improve consistency and efficiency for domestic and international stories, eliminating the need to spell out all state names in international copy, and to abbreviate them in domestic copy,” the AP wrote.
The new entry reads in part:
SPELL OUT: The names of the 50 U.S. states should be spelled out when used in the body of a story, whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village or military base. No state name is necessary if it is the same as the dateline. This also applies to newspapers cited in a story. For example, a story datelined Providence, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (R.I.) Journal. See datelines.”
Honestly, this seems like another arbitrary change from the AP, although I’m not certain it will annoy writers as much as the over/more than change.
One thing the change certainly will do is make our copy longer. The full name of a state will take more space than the abbreviation, but apparently that is no longer a concern the way it was back in the wire days.
I’m really starting to think the AP is just trying to keep my editing skills sharp by changing their rules on a whim.
Let’s Talk Nerdy!
What do you think about the AP’s state usage change?
Nerd Note: AP Changes Style for State Names in Stories