- Browser Titles
- Bulleted Lists
- Corporate Names — Walmart, JCPenney, etc.
- Deks (Story Subtitles)
- Ellipsis ...
- Financial Terms
- Miscellaneous Writing Style
- Newspaper Names; Books, Movies, And Other Titles
- Possessive Form Of Words Ending In “S”
- Quotation Marks Used In Headlines
- Quotation Marks Used In Text
- SEO Best Practices
- Time Of Day
- In headlines, do not use periods in the abbreviations US, UK, and UN.
- Within the body of a post, always use periods in the abbreviations U.S., U.K., and U.N.
- Never use periods in EU.
- Generally, spell out "versus," but when abbreviating, use vs. in all cases except court rulings, where it is abbreviated v. (Marbury v. Madison, Roe v. Wade).
- See below for abbreviating state names.
- Do not add an extra period when an abbreviation appears at the end of a sentence.
- Want more page views? The 40-character guideline is as much for your benefit as it is for Business Insider's — here's why:
- The browser title is the first element search engine crawlers examine when they read a page, and it determines the post's page ranking.
- The most popular search engine, Google, only indexes the first ~40 characters. So if the most likely search terms in your browser title come after the 40th character, your posts are less likely to be found by people searching for those keywords.
- In lists, always capitalize the first word and always use periods at the end of each section, whether it is a full sentence or just a phrase.
- Example:The general is accused of charging the government for personal expenditures such as:
- Use of government-rented vehicles to run errands including collecting flowers, books, football game tickets, and snacks.
- Dinner and a Broadway show — paid for by a government contractor —
before meeting Denzel Washington and staying in the five-star Waldorf
- Wife joined him on 52 of his 79 trips even though she had no official capacity.
- Hyphenate when forming nouns, adjectives, and verbs that indicate occupation or status:
- co-partner, co-owner, co-worker, co-author, co-pilot, co-chairman, co-host, co-sponsor, co-star, etc.
- Capitalize the first letter following the hyphen in heds:
- Co-Partner, Co-Owner, Co-Worker, etc.
- Capitalize the first word following a colon if it begins a complete sentence. Do not capitalize if it begins a simple list.
- I learned two things: My husband cannot sing and I cannot dance.
- I learned two things: singing and dancing.
- Q. Does AP differentiate style for corporate office names and store names, using one style or name to refer to one and different style/name for the other? For instance: Walgreen Co. vs. Walgreens, J.C. Penney vs. JCPenney?
- A. Use Walgreen Co. or Walgreen Company on the first reference, then Walgreens on followups. J.C. Penney Co. (sometimes with Inc.) on first reference, then J.C. Penney or JCPenney.
- Q. Wal-Mart, Walmart: Can someone determine, even on your own site, whether it is one word or two when referencing the neighborhood store.
- A. AP is now using the hyphenated spelling Wal-Mart in text references, including Wal-Mart retail stores. Website addresses, however, have to use the one-word spelling: http://www.walmart.com/
- Em Dash: Use proper em dashes (—) in headlines and text for parentheticals, never double hyphens (--) or the shorter en dash (–). An em dash should be set open, meaning there should be spaces on both sides.
(NOTE: This change to the AP Stylebook calling for open-set em dashes occurred in late 2012, making it now match up with the "New York Times Manual of Style and Usage" on this topic.)
- To render an em dash using a Mac, use the keystroke combination: Shift+Option+Minus sign (or hyphen).
- To render an em dash using a PC with a number pad, use the keystroke combination: Alt+0151
- To render an em dash using a PC laptop, use the keystroke
combination: Shift+NumLk then Alt+mjij. Use Shift+NumLk again to unlock
the number pad on the keyboard and return to text.
- HINT: If your fingers are just too "trained" to type hyphens and it trips you up or slows you down to break pace and do the keystrokes necessary to get a proper em dash as you type, just type as usual, then when you finish, use the Find/Replace feature to change all the double hyphens to em dashes in one fell swoop, which takes all of about five seconds. Easy.
- En Dash: The shorter en dash (–) is used to separate a range of values or things; such as dollars, percentages, distances, locations, etc. An en dash should be set closed, meaning there should be no spaces on either side.
- To render an en dash using a Mac, use the keystroke combination: Option+Minus sign (or hyphen).
- To render an en dash using a PC with a number pad, use the keystroke combination: Alt+0150.
- To render an en dash using a PC laptop, use the keystroke combination: Shift+NumLk then Alt+mjim. Use Shift+NumLk again to unlock the number pad on the keyboard and return to text.
- Use the day of the week, not “today,” “yesterday,” or “tomorrow.”
- The GOP debate on Wednesday was a rife with factual errors.
- A date expressed without the name of the month takes the ordinal form.
- He will be sentenced on the 14th.
- When stating only a month and a year, do not separate the month and year by a comma.
- December 1987
- Deks should make the reader even more eager to click.
- They can: editorialize, explain, tease, amplify, condemn, applaud, answer question(s), ask question(s)
- DO NOT repeat the headline or words in the headline. We make this mistake all the time and it's a real bummer for the reader.
- Don't forget: The majority of our readers come directly to posts, not via the home page. So do not put something in the dek that is important and is not in the body of the story.
- Use the AP rule of construct for e- terms.
- Email does not take a hyphen.
- Use a hyphen with all other e- terms such as: e-book, e-business, e-commerce, etc.
- An ellipsis ( ... ) is used to indicate the deletion of one or more words when condensing quotes, texts and documents; or to indicate a thought that the speaker or writer does not complete. Therefore it should be treated as a three-letter word itself and have spaces on both sides of it.
- When an ellipsis follows a complete sentence, use the correct punctuation — a period, question mark, exclamation point, etc. — followed by a space, then the ellipsis.
- Work on the project was scheduled to begin May 1. ... Contract negotiations appear to be derailing that start date.
- Was he serious? ... It was hard to tell.
- You don't "earn" revenue. You earn profit. You "generate" or "book" revenue.
- "Revenue" is the same thing as "sales."
- "Cash flow" is different from "profit." The latter is an accounting construct (lots of non-cash accruals, amortization, etc.). The former is net cash in/out the door. Please ask Henry to clarify if you don't understand.
- Headlines are critical for us. The goal is to be fresh, interesting, provocative, informative, bold and fun — without over-compromising.
- Heds are stories, opinions, and ads for the post, not dry statements of fact. They can't be factually wrong or misstate what is in the post, but they can certainly be interpretive ("Jeff Zucker May Get The Boot," "The World Bids Farewell To Obama"). They can also editorialize. What they shouldn't do is be dull or lifeless.
- Headlines must be CRYSTAL CLEAR. If they aren't easy to understand, no one will take the time to understand them. They'll just move on to the next post.
- Headlines should be BOLD, not wimpy. Don't qualify everything. Stick your neck out and say something interesting. That's part of the value we add — we make sense of a complex world. This goes for your post writing, too. If people aren't yelling at you, chances are you aren't
saying anything interesting.
- Usually, it is best to have ACTION using a COLORFUL verb — someone doing something startling to someone else. Choose interesting words: e.g. "blabbed" instead of "talked," "blows quarter" instead of "misses expectations" or "disappoints," etc.
- Words like "lousy," and "horrible" are unusual in business journalism, which is why they sound
fresh. Always prefer colloquial conversational language over formal "business writing."
- Use the colon structure sparingly (as in, “Geithner: Bernanke's A Moron”). This device is powerful and efficient when the person or firm is well-known, but adds clutter when the identity of speaker adds no meaning or impact.
- Do not qualify headlines with "Report" or "Poll" or "Survey" or "Source" et all, unless the information is really shaky. Instead, explain in the dek and first paragraph where it's from and how solid it is.
- Avoid jargon (or explain it when you use it).
- Spell out acronyms the first time you use them unless they are very widely understood (e.g., "CIA").
- Explain who the people you mention are and what they do.
- Explain why the information you are sharing matters.
- Communicate as directly, efficiently, and clearly as you can (respect the reader's time and remember that it is a privilege to have their attention).
- Avoid using "Yeah" unless in the context of "Yeah baby!"
- Minimize contractions, especially hasn't, wouldn't, and couldn't (note the serial comma).
- Keep the tone conversational — it's a strength. Avoid too much formality.
- Avoid use of the phrase "hat tip" and "inks," as in "inks a deal."
- Excerpt and link the way you would want others to excerpt and link to you (credit, nice fat link saying you should read the whole thing). But don't just say, "Read this," or "Watch this." Tell us why we should read/watch. Better yet, tell us important points so we don't have to read/watch.
- When using AP stories, capitalize and change heds and rewrite deks.
- Don't put links to other slideshows at the top of old posts. Put them at the end. Put the reader's experience first. Don't bait and switch.
- When pasting text from another source that contains spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors, either:
- Replace the incorrect word or words with the correct word or words within [brackets].
- Place (sic) after the error.
- Capitalize the article “the” in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known; lowercase the article “the” if it is not actually part of the newspaper’s name.
- Put quotation marks around book titles, movie titles, computer game titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, published studies, speeches,
and works of art.
- DO NOT USE ITALICS.
- Capitalize prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters; lowercase when three or fewer.
- “Dances With Wolves”
- “Dawn of the Dead”
- Spell the numbers one through nine. Use figures for numbers greater than nine. Use figures in headlines.
- Spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence. If necessary, recast the sentence. There is one exception: a number that identifies a calendar year.
- Place a zero in front of decimal points: 0.75, $0.50, 0.25 percent.
- Per the AP style guide, spell out the word percent. The % symbol is only used with scientific, technical, and statistical copy or in charts or graphs.
- Exception: The % symbol can be used in headlines for brevity or effect (deks should still spell the word out).
- Use figures for percent and percentages, even for numbers below ten,
which are ordinarily spelled out: 1 percent, 2.5 percent (use decimals,
not fractions), 4 percentage points.
- For a range, only write the word percent behind the last figure: From 30 to 40 percent, or, between 60 and 70 percent.
- For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.
- Spell out fractional amounts less than 1, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths, seven-sixteenths, etc.
- Use figures for precise amounts larger than 1, with a full space
between the whole number and the fraction: 1 1/2, 2 5/8, etc. However,
convert to decimals whenever practical.
- Betting Odds:
- Use figures and a hyphen: The odds were 5-4, he won despite 3-2 odds against him.
- The word to is seldom necessary, but when it appears it
should be hyphenated in all constructions: 3-to-2 odds, odds of 3-to-2,
the odds were 3-to-2.
- Use single quotation marks in headlines.
- CBS Ends 'Jericho' in New Schedule
- Obama Tells Congressional Black Caucus To 'Stop Grumbling'
- The period and the comma always go within the quotation marks.
- The dash, the semicolon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.
- Don't place single quotation marks around individual words, phrases, or titles unless they fall within a larger quote; use double quotation marks.
- When nesting quotes, use double quotation marks around the primary quote and single quotation marks around quotes within the quote.
- The New York Times reports “Mr. Romney recounted how, as he sat in David’s hospital room, the teenager called him ‘Brother Romney’ and asked him about ‘what’s next.’”
- When a quote spans multiple paragraphs, do not put a closing quotation mark at the end of each paragraph, but do put a quotation mark a the beginning of every paragraph.
"During the last recession, the economy bottomed out in November 2001 and GDP growth was robust in 2002 but the U.S. stock markets kept on falling all the way through the first quarter of 2003. So not only were the stock markets not "forward looking," they actually lagged the economic recovery by 18 months--rather than lead it by six to nine months.
A similar scenario could occur this time around. The real economy sort of exits the recession some time in 2010, but deflationary forces keep a lid on the pricing power of corporations and their profit margins, and growth is so weak and anemic, that U.S. equities may--as in 2002--move sideways for most of 2010. A number of false bull starts would occur as economic recovery signals remain mixed.
Thus, most likely, we can brace ourselves for new lows on U.S. and global equities in the next 12 to 18 months."
—Nouriel Roubini on March 12, 2009
"During the last recession, the economy bottomed out in November 2001 and GDP growth was robust in 2002 but the U.S. stock markets kept on falling all the way through the first quarter of 2003. So not only were the stock markets not 'forward looking,' they actually lagged the economic recovery by 18 months — rather than lead it by six to nine months.
"A similar scenario could occur this time around. The real economy sort of exits the recession some time in 2010, but deflationary forces keep a lid on the pricing power of corporations and their profit margins, and growth is so weak and anemic, that U.S. equities may — as in 2002 — move sideways for most of 2010. A number of false bull starts would occur as economic recovery signals remain mixed.
"Thus, most likely, we can brace ourselves for new lows on U.S. and global equities in the next 12 to 18 months."
— Nouriel Roubini on March 12, 2009
- Titles: Always include the term you want the article to be found for in the title. When possible, convey as much as possible in the first 80 characters.
- Meta Descriptions: Write something compelling that you would want to click on if you saw it on Google (40 characters recommended).
- Alt Text: Take the time to label images properly. Use the proper name of the person, place, or item in the photo. Don't be witty, don't leave it blank, don't include ".jpg" at the end, and don't write a long, drawn-out sentence like this one.
- Internal Linking: Minimum one internal link per post. Just search for a term and link to a relevant article. Use specific link text Goal: two to four per post.
- Tag Creation: Create a tag, it only takes a moment and the ROI is endless.
- Spell out the names of the states in text when they appear alone:
- Wildfires continued to rage through southern California yesterday.
- Abbreviate them when they appear in conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base:
- Needham, Mass., Oxnard Air Force Base, Calif.
- Do not abbreviate Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah (the two states that are not part of the contiguous United States and the states that are five letters or fewer).
- When abbreviating U.S. states, do so as follows:
Ala. Ariz. Ark. Calif. Colo. Conn. Del. Fla. Ga. Ill. Ind. Kan. Ky. La. Mass. Md. Mich. Minn. Miss. Mo. Mont. N.D. N.C. N.H. N.J. N.M. N.Y. Neb. Nev. Okla. Ore. Pa. R.I. S.C. S.D. Tenn. Va. Vt. W.Va. Wash. Wis. Wyo.
- Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another after the state name, unless at the end of a sentence or in a dateline.
- She traveled from San Diego, Calif., to go to school in Kansas City, Mo. Now, she’s thinking of moving to Santa Fe, N.M.
- Ante meridian (before noon) and post meridian (after noon) are abbreviated in lowercase with periods.
- 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9-11 a.m., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Spell out noon and midnight.
- Avoid redundancies like 10 a.m. this morning or 10 p.m. Monday night. Use 10 a.m. or 10 p.m. Monday, etc.
- Using "o'clock" is acceptable, but using numbers followed by a.m. or p.m. is preferable.