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Associated Press Style Writing Tips

The department follows the Associated Press (AP) style as a writing standard.  This reference material is provided for our employees who write, edit, prepare and disseminate departmental information.  Please contact the Soil and Water Conservation Program office if you have questions about any reference in this document.

Acronyms Addresses

Use abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address:  1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize when part of formal street name without the number.  Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues.  Always spell out Highway and Suite.
Use P.O. Box 176 not PO Box 176
Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures with two letters for 10th and above: 7 Fifth Ave. , 100 21st St.
Abbreviate compass points used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address:  222 E. 42nd St., 562 W. 43rd St., 600 K St. N.W. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: East 42nd Street, West 43rd Street, K Street Northwest.
Always use figures for an address number: 9 Morningside Circle

Addresses and commas

Place a comma between the city and the state and another comma after the state.  For example, Trenton, N.J., was hit by a tornado.  Cities do not need to be followed by Missouri unless there is a chance for confusion within the context of your document.  For example, Paris, Mo.; Mexico, Mo., Kirksville, Macon, Springfield.  In many instances, Paris and Mexico may not need "Mo." 

Age

Always use figures. A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old.  The boy, 7, has a sister, 10.  The woman, 26, has a daughter 2 months old.  The law is 8 years old.  The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe).

Ampersands

Do not use ampersands (&).

and/or

Avoid the use of "and/or."  Usually "or" is appropriate to communicate the message you want.

Capitalization

Capitalize common nouns (such as state park, river, street and west) only when they are an integral part of the proper name for a person, place, or thing: Sam A. Baker State Park, Missouri River, Madison Street.  Lowercase those same nouns when they stand alone in subsequent references: the state park, the river, the street.  Lowercase the common noun elements of names in plural uses.  For example, Rock Bridge Memorial and Cuivre River state parks, Missouri and Mississippi rivers, Madison and Jefferson streets.

Colon

A complete thought, not a fragment, should always precede a colon.  "The winners were: ." is incorrect.  "Seven people attended the game:." is correct.

Commas

Do not put a comma at the end of a simple series with one conjunction.  The example given here is directly from AP, but in direct opposition to at least two other style books.  Stick with AP on this example: The flag is red, white and blue.  If the meaning would be unclear without the last comma, it is preferred.

Company and Corporation

Abbreviate and capitalize company (Co.) and corporation (Corp.) if business use either word at the end of their proper name.  Do not put a comma before Inc.  Do not abbreviate county.

Dates

When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate January, February, August, September, October, November and December.  (The public hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17 in Columbia.)  Spell out when using alone, or when using the month and year only.  Also, do not put a comma between the month and the year if there is no intervening date.  Set off the year with commas when you refer to the month, day and year.  The sequence should always be time, date and place.  No comma goes between the time and the day of the week.

Dimensions

Use figures do not spell out the number.  He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, the 5-foot-6-inch man, the 5-foot man, the basketball team signed a 7-footer.  Or 9-by-21-foot room, the 9-by-12 rug, or the rug is 9 feet by 12 feet. Use an apostrophe to indicate feet and quote marks to indicate inches (5'6") only in very technical contexts.

email

When using email in a sentence it should be all lowercase with no hyphen. Capitalize it only when it is used as the first word of a sentence. Examples: “Email the entire list to the conference…” and “I sent email to the conference yesterday.”

Figures

Spell out numbers less than one, using hyphens between the words (one-third, four-fifths, etc.). Use figures for precise amounts larger than one that include fractions, converting to decimals whenever practical. Example: "32.75" or "thirty-two and three-quarters."
The exception to the above rules on numbers involves dimensions. Use figures and spell out inches, feet and yards. (e.g., "The tree is 115 feet tall" or "The model solar panel measures 12 inches by 4 inches" or "The storm left 5 inches of snow.")

ID

OK or use in forms, otherwise spell out identification.

Login

one word, no hyphen

MoDNR

is acceptable for use only on the Internet within the Title Tag.  However, even on Internet documents, "Missouri Department of Natural Resources" is preferred.  In all instances, MDNR or DNR should not be used.

Months

Abbreviate the following months when used with dates.  Jan. Feb. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. For example, I was born on Jan. 7, 1979.  The following months are always spelled out: March, April, May, June, July. Spell the month out when using both the month and year. For example, I was born in January 1979.

mph

miles per hour.  Do not capitalize.

Numbers

The abbreviation NO. is OK for use in forms and charts.  You must use a period to avoid confusion with the word no.  Generally, spell out numbers lower than 10; use figures for 10 and above. All numbers, however, are spelled out if they begin sentences except years. Example: "2000 will begin a new millennium." "One-hundred million people are expected to attend." Or "The city expects 100 million people to attend the event."  See "numerals" entry in the AP Stylebook for more examples and exceptions.

Percentages

Use figures: 1 percent (not 1%), 2.5 percent (use decimals, not fractions), 10 percent.  For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero:  The cost of living rose 0.6 percent.

Phone Numbers

For consistency and clarity, please use the following formats for phone numbers.  Toll-free use; 800- and for other numbers use; 573-.  This reflects a recent change by the Associated Press to eliminate the use parentheses, all hyphens.  The form: 212-621-1500. For international numbers use 011 (from the United States), the country code, the city code and the telephone number: 011-44-20-7535-1515. Use hyphens, not periods. The form for toll-free numbers: 800-111-1000.
Fax is not a proper name.  Unless used at the beginning of a sentence or in a title, it should be spelled "fax."
314-, not 314/ or 314.
800-, not 1 (800) or 1(800) or 1.800. or 1/800/ or 1-800

Pounds

The abbreviation lb. Or lbs. Is OK in forms and charts.  Spell out in copy and text.

psi

pounds per square inch.  Do not capitalize.

psia

pounds per square inch absolute. Do not capitalize.

Punctuation and Grammar

Do not Abbreviate and capitalize company (Co.) and corporation (Corp.) if businesses use either word at the end of their proper name. Do not put a comma before Inc., Co. or Corp.
Abbreviate states (except Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah) when preceded by cities. Spell them all out if they stand alone. Use standard postal abbreviations when addressing correspondence. Place a comma between the city and the state, and another comma after the state. Example: Trenton, N.J., was hit by a tornado.
Cities do not need to be followed by Missouri unless there is a chance for confusion within the context of your document. Examples: Kansas City, KS or Kansas City, MO, Paris, Mo.; Mexico, Mo., Kirksville, Macon, Springfield. In many instances, Paris and Mexico may not need “Mo.”
NOTE: All news releases must include the state in the dateline. Out-of-state cities should include the state in the first reference. Example: Pittsburg, Kan. (KS for mailing addresses) Springfield, Ill. (IL for mailing addresses). Use mailing symbols for states when listing a mailing address. In the case of Missouri, it’s MO (no period, no comma, all caps before the ZIP code).
It is important to clarify that in letters, correspondence, stories, reports, news releases etc. you don't use the postal abbreviations for states, use Mo. with  a period, not MO, etc.
LLC - Limited Liability Company; LP - Limited Partnership --The Stylebook does not have an entry on these abbreviations, but they generally use them without periods or commas.

Slashes

Slashes are OK in forms and charts.  Spell out in copy and text.  For example, if used in a form, tons/year is OK.  If used in regular copy, tons per year is preferred.

States

abbreviate states (except Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah) when preceded by cities.  Spell them all out if they stand-alone.  Use standard postal abbreviations when addressing correspondence.

Times

When writing times, use the hour and a lowered a.m. or p.m.  Do not use ":00" when denoting an exact hour.  (2 p.m. is correct; 2:00 P.M. is incorrect.)

Web

Capitalize at the beginning of a sentence, otherwise it is lowercase.  web page and website, not Website.

-wide

Do not hyphenate when using this suffix.  For example, doublewide, citywide, nationwide.

AP Style Tip

Accept – to receive
Except – to exclude
Ensure – guarantee
Assure – to inform confidently
Insure – insurance
Affect - (v) influence. The game will affect the standings. Usually means action. Affect as a noun is best avoided.
Effect - (v) cause. He will effect many changes in the company. Usually means change.
(n) result. The effect was overwhelming. He miscalcualted the effect of his actions. It was a law of little effect.

Additional

Confusing Words, Expressions and Terms, such as storm water (not stormwater), water body (not waterbody), surface water (not surfacewater), etc.  Groundwater is one word.
orphans and widows in subheadings and sub-subheadings
No full capitalization, such as HELLO, instead use upper and lowercase bold Hello

Document Requirements

All documents being posted to the Web should have department/program identification somewhere on the document. This includes at the very least the department and program name and can include the department logo, contact phone number, address, and other contact information. Including a revised date on the document is also a good idea. Documents include database printouts, financial spreadsheet, meeting minutes, presentations, etc.

Naming your files - this is optional

keep name as short and simple as possible
no capital letters
no spaces or special characters
use hyphens (-) to separate words
use dates for documents that need it, for example, cwc-a-030106.doc would work great for the agenda for a Clean Water Commission meeting held on March 1, 2017.
if you are replacing a document that is already on the Web use the same name that it already has, check with your Web maintainer or a Web section staffer to check for you.

Computer Terms

See the department's Web Manager for additional information.

CD-ROM: All caps with hyphen.
cyberspace: the digital world constructed by computer networks. In particular, the Internet.
disk: Computer diskette. Not disc.
disk drive: Two words.
download: One word.
DVD: All caps. Digital Versatile Disk.
email: Lowercase with hyphen. Can be used as noun or verb.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions.
GIF: A format used for graphic, art or text images on the Internet. Use all caps to describe this format, lowercase .gif as the extension.
home page: Two words. Lowercase unless part of a proper noun. Example: Missouri Department of Natural Resources Home Page.
HTML: An initialism for hypertext markup language.
HTTP: An initialism for hypertext transport protocol.
hyperlink, hypertext: One word.
Internet: Always capitalized.
Internet addresses (URLs): Addresses, if used, should be self-contained paragraphs at the end of a story. Example: [www.dnr.mo.gov/index.html].
Microsoft Word automatically underlines an Internet address to make it into a hyperlink. The underline should be removed when used in publications. For use on the Internet, it is OK for the link to remain active and the text to be underlined.
intranet: Lowercase. A private network inside a company or organization that uses similar software to that found on the public Internet but is only for internal use.
JPEG or JPG: Use all caps to describe the format, lowercase .jpg as the extension.
link: Common use of the word hyperlink.
listserv: A software program for setting up and maintaining discussion groups.
login: One word when used as a noun. The account name or username used to access a computer system. Two words when used as a verb phrase. Example: I must log in before I can access my email.
log on: Two words. The process of connecting to a network or remote system.
log off: Two words. To disconnect from a network or remote system.
PDF: Portable Document Format. File format for the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
offline: One word. When a computer is not connected to a host system, it is offline.
online: One word.
screen saver: Two words.
Snail Mail: Do not use. Slang for U.S. Mail Service.

software: One word.
surf: Slang for "to browse."
upload: One word.
username: One word.
World Wide Web or Web:  Examples: web address, webmanager, webmaster, webpage, web server, and website.