Some Recent Major Changes

to the AP Stylebook

It is not feasible to report all updates to the Stylebook here. However, some changes affect so many writers that they deserve to be mentioned.

For access to the most recent version of AP style, subscribe to

--Compiled by GG


The Muslim name for God. The word God should be used, unless the Arabic name is used in a quote written or spoken in English.


Acceptable for an American black person of African descent. Black is also acceptable. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable. People from Caribbean nations, for example, generally refer to themselves as Caribbean-American. Follow a person's preference.

The term "black" is acceptable for a person of the black race. (Use Negro only in names of organizations or in quotations.) Do not use colored as a synonym. See colored, nationalities and races, and race entries. (2/20/08)


Use figures for all ages, including those of animals and inanimate objects. 

  • Old way: A three-year-old bridge, a 10-year-old car, the law is eight years old
  • New way: A 3-year-old bridge, a 10-year-old car, a 2-year-old dog, the law is 8 years old (11/26/07)


  • hyphenate in all uses
  • The AP Stylebook is a perennial best-seller.

Bombay, Madras renamed

  • Bombay is now Mumbai.
  • Madras is now Chennai. (March 29, 2007)


Sometimes used by Mexican-Americans in the Southwest. Not interchangeable with Mexican-American. Use only if a person's preference. See Hispanic, Latino, nationalities and races, and race entries. (2/20/08)


  • No hyphen.
  • The preferred noun is "female student."
  • OK when referring to a coed institution (10/11/07)

daylight saving time

  • No "s" at the end of saving
  • Do not hyphenate.
  • Eastern daylight time, Mountain daylight time, etc. (Omit "saving" when referring to a time zone.) (March 29, 2007)


European Union is abbreviated EU (without periods) (5/12/04)

fundraising, fundraiser

  • one word


Preferred term for playing games of chance. Avoid use of the term gaming except in quotations or proper names. (1/2/08)

gay preferred (3/13/06)

  • Lesbian is OK for gay women.
  • Use homosexual in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity.
  • Mention sexual orientation only when relevant to the story.
  • Avoid "sexual preference" or gay or alternative "lifestyle."


  • Do not abbreviate.
  • Indigenous group also called native Hawaiians.
  • The Hawaiian Islands include 132 islands.
  • Honolulu OK as a dateline; for other cities, specify the state.

heart attack, heart failure, cardiac arrest

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when one or more arteries supplying blood to the heart becomes blocked. Heart failure is a chronic condition that occurs when a weakened heart can no longer effectively pump blood. Cardiac arrest, or sudden cardiac arrest, occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It can be due to a heart attack, a heart rhythm problem, or as a result of electrocution or other trauma. (1/18/08)

heavenly bodies

  • Capitalize nouns and adjectives derived from the proper names of planets:
    • Martian,
    • Venusian,
  • but lowercase adjectives derived from other heavenly bodies:
    • solar,
    • lunar.
  • Capitalize Earth the planet
    • Lowercase other: as, down-to-earth.

home schooling

  • home schooling
  • home-schooled
  • home-schooler

illegal immigrant

  • preferred over illegal alien or undocumented worker.


A term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place. Aboriginal leaders welcomed a new era of indigenous relations in Australia. Bolivia's indigenous peoples represent some 62 percent of the population. See nationalities and races, and race entries. (2/20/08)

Internet terms in AP style

  • The Web and the Internet are capitalized.
    • The World Wide Web can be called the Net in later references.
  • Note that website is now one word, lowercase.
    • But online is one word, no hyphen.
  • MP3, email (one word, no hyphen)
  • Floppy disk, hard disk, slipped disk. CD-ROM disc, videodisc, disc brakes.
  • In a website address, follow the spelling and capitalization conventions of the site owner.
    • If a website address falls at the end of a sentence, end it with a period.
    • Start a website address with http:// (or equivalent)
    • See the stylebook for instructions on writing out symbols such as underscore, tilde, and the at-sign in AP wire transmissions.


Often the preferred term for a person from -- or whose ancestors were from -- a Spanish-speaking land or culture or from Latin America. Latina is the feminine form. Follow the person's preference. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian or Mexican-American. See Hispanic, nationalities and races, and race entries.


Acceptable on first reference and all uses for the medical diagnostic procedure of magnetic resonance imaging.

nationalities and races

Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc.: Arab, Arabic, African, American, Caucasian, Cherokee, Chinese (both singular and plural), Eskimo (plural Eskimos), French Canadian, Japanese (singular and plural), Jew, Jewish, Nordic, Sioux, Swede, etc.

See race for guidelines on when racial identification is pertinent in a story.

Use derogatory terms only in direct quotes when essential to the story and flag the contents in an editor's note. (2/20/08)

Native American

Acceptable for those in the U.S. Follow the person's preference. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe: He is a Navajo commissioner. In stories about American Indians, such words or terms as wampum, warpath, powwow, teepee, brave, squaw, etc., can be disparaging and offensive. See nationalities and races, and race entries. (2/20/08)


Do not use when referring to East Asian nations and their peoples. Asian is the acceptable term for an inhabitant of those regions. Oriental rug is standard. (3/5/08)


A revision of this lengthy entry "updates and tightens the polls and surveys entry throughout to expand guidance on online polling and likely voter samples, and change style to allow rounding of sampling error to the first decimal place." (10/4/07)

Sept. 11 and 9/11 are both acceptable

Changed 2/20/08.

"sewage" in all senses (10/17/04)

  • No longer use "sewerage"
  • Sewage now flows through the sewage system.


  • teen
  • teenage
  • teenager
  • no hyphen
  • do not use teen-aged
  • As punishment I took the hyphen away from my teenager.

telephone numbers: no parentheses. Use these forms:

  • 850-229-1609
  • 904-386-2610, ext. 14
  • 800-328-7448
  • International:
    • 011-43-1-320-8851
  • This 5/25/06 update updates the update of 7/3/03.

U.N. now OK as a noun (5/17/04)

  • Removes a former restriction
  • The U.N. meets Monday to vote on AP style.


  • good as adjective or noun
  • throughout the U.S.
  • U.S. teens protest at U.N. over removal of hyphen. "Why should home-schoolers and best-sellers have hyphens when teenagers have none?"

US and UN in Headlines

Periods are not needed in US and UN in headlines. (12/5/08)


One Word Hyphenated Two Words
JetBlue Airways
Southwest Airlines
Midwest (region)
freelance, freelancer
teenage, teenager
call letters
Middle East
child care
Game Boy
video game
home schooling

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