accent marks. Do not use any diacritical marks on general wires because they cause garble in many newspaper computers.

African Union. The African Union, established in 2002 to succeed the Organization of African Unity, has the following members:

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

air bag. Two words


anniversary. Avoid first anniversary, the redundant one-year anniversary and terms such as six-month anniversary (or other time spans less than a year). Similarly, avoid first annual.

Asperger's syndrome

AT&T Corp.
The full name of the business formerly known as American Telephone & Telegraph Co. AT&T was acquired in 2005 by its former subsidiary, SBC Communications Inc., which renamed itself AT&T and is headquartered in San Antonio.  


best-seller. Hyphenate in all uses.


Boogie. A trademark for a type of surfing bodyboard. Use the generic term.



carry-on (adj.)

census. Capitalize only in specific references to the U.S. Census Bureau. Lowercase in other uses: the census data was released Tuesday.

 Central Asia The region includes Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Chevron Corp. Created by the merger of Chevron (formerly Standard Oil Co. of California) and Texaco in 2001. Headquarters is in San Ramon, Calif. (Name changed from ChevronTexaco in 2005.)

Cuban missile crisis


day care. Two words, no hyphen, in all uses. (An exception to Webster's use as an adjective.)

D.C. See District of Columbia.

District of Columbia. Abbreviate as D.C. Spell out when used alone. Do not use D.C. in conjunction with the federal district of Washington unless it could be confused with other Washingtons.
The district, rather than D.C., should be used in subsequent references.

defender (rather than defenseman)

See disc, disk.

disc, disk. Use the disc spelling for phonograph records and related terms (disc jockey), optical and laser-based devices (laserdisc, videodisc) and for disc brake. Use disk for computer-related references: (floppy disk, hard disk) and medical references such as slipped disk.

driver's license(s)


Earthquakes. Hundreds of earthquakes occur each year. Most are so small they cannot be felt.

The best source for information on major earthquakes is the National Earthquake Information Service operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

On the Net:


Earthquake magnitudes are measures of earthquake size calculated from ground motion recorded on seismographs. The Richter scale, named for Dr. Charles F. Richter, is no longer widely used.

Magnitudes are usually reported simply as magnitude 6.7, for example, without specifying the scale being used. The various scales differ only slightly from one another.

In the first hours after a quake, earthquake size should be reported as a preliminary magnitude of 6.7, for example. Early estimates are often revised, and it can be several days before seismologists calculate a final figure.

Magnitudes are measured on several different scales. The most commonly used measure is the moment magnitude, related to the area of the fault on which an earthquake occurs, and the amount the ground slips.

The magnitude scale being used should be specified only when necessary. An example would be when two centers are reporting different magnitudes because they are using different scales.

With each scale, every increase of one number, say from 5.5 to 6.5, means that the quake's magnitude is 10 times as great. Theoretically, there is no upper limit to the scales.

A quake of magnitude 2.5 to 3 is the smallest generally felt by people.

–Magnitude 4: The quake can cause moderate damage.

–Magnitude 5: The quake can cause considerable damage.

–Magnitude 6: The quake can cause severe damage.

–Magnitude 7: A major earthquake, capable of widespread, heavy damage.

–Magnitude 8: An earthquake capable of tremendous damage.


NOTABLE QUAKES: Earthquakes noted for both their magnitude and the amount of damage they caused include:

–Shensi province of China, January 1556: Killed 830,000 people, the largest number of fatalities on record from an earthquake.

–Hopeh province of northern China, July 28, 1976: Magnitude 7.5. A government document later said 655,237 people were killed and 779,000 injured. The fatality total was second only to the toll in the Shensi quake of 1556.

–Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan, September 1923: Magnitude later computed as 7.9. The quake and subsequent fires destroyed most of both cities, killing an estimated 200,000 people. Until the China quake of 1976, this was the highest fatality toll in the 20th century.

–Indian Ocean quake Dec. 26, 2004, off Indonesia's island of Sumatra with a magnitude 9, killed more than 162,000 people in 11 countries in the ensuing tsunami.

–South Asia quake, Oct. 8, 2005, with a magnitude of 7.6, killed an estimated 87,000 people in Pakistan and the part of Kashmir controlled by India.

–San Francisco, April 1906: Moment magnitude later computed as 7.8. The quake and subsequent fire were blamed for an estimated 700 deaths.

–Chile, May 1960: Magnitude 9.5, considered the largest recorded quake. Killed 5,700 people.

–Alaska, March 1964: Magnitude 9.2. Killed 125 people, most from the seismic sea wave that followed.

–Guatemala, February 1976: Magnitude 7.5. Authorities reported more than 23,000 deaths.

–Mexico, Sept. 19, 1985: A quake registered at 8.1 left 9,500 people dead.

–Kobe, Japan, Jan. 17, 1995: A magnitude 6.9 quake killed about 5,500 people in collapsed buildings and fires.

  OTHER TERMS: The word temblor (not tremblor) is a synonym for earthquake.

The word epicenter refers to the point on Earth's surface above the underground center, or focus, of an earthquake.


farmers market. No apostrophe.


gay. Used to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity.

Include sexual orientation only when it is pertinent to a story, and avoid references to "sexual preference" or to a gay or alternative "lifestyle."


Gaza settlements


Northern Gaza: Elei Sinai, Nissanit, Dugit

Central Gaza: Netzarim, Kfar Darom

Main Gush Katif bloc: Netzer Hazani, Ganei Tal, Tel Katifa, Shirat Hayam, Katif, Kfar Yam , Neve Dekalim ( largest settlement), Gadid, Gan Or, Bedolah, Atzmona, Kerem Atzmona, Morag, Peat Sadeh

Southern Gaza: Slav, Rafiah Yam

West Bank: Ganim, Kadim, Homesh, Sanur

Crossings from Israel into Gaza: Erez, Karni, Kissufim

Israeli border communities: Sderot, communal farms of Nahal Oz, Kissufim, Ein Hashlosha

Palestinian towns close to Gush Katif settlements: Rafah, Khan Younis


GPS. Acceptable in all references to Global Positioning System. If a descriptive word is used following, use it in lowercase: The GPS satellite.


Green Berets. See special forces.



Hawaii. Do not abbreviate the state name. Hawaiians are members of an ethnic group indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands and are also called Native Hawaiians. Use Hawaii resident or islander for anyone living in the state.

The state comprises 132 islands about 2,400 miles southwest of San Francisco. Collectively, they are the Hawaiian Islands.

The largest island in land area is Hawaii. Honolulu and Pearl Harbor are on Oahu, where more than 80 percent of the state's residents live.

Honolulu stands alone in datelines. Use Hawaii after all other cities in datelines, specifying the island in the text, if needed.

See datelines and state names.



homebuyer, homeowner


home schooling, home-schooled, home-schooler

hot spot. Two words, for descriptions of the area where computers can connect wirelessly, or for global trouble spots, or areas of intense heat in general.



intefadah. An Arabic term for the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

Iraq provinces:






Dhi Qar














Israel towns. Some towns and villages in northern Israel:












Migdal Haemek

Upper Nazareth

Misgav Am






Katmandu. Preferred spelling for the capital of Nepal.






Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Formerly the Manned Spacecraft Center. Located in Houston, it is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s principal control and training center for manned spaceflight.

Johnson Space Center is acceptable in all references.

In datelines:


See John F. Kennedy Space Center.




mecca. Lowercase in the metaphorical sense; capitalize (Mecca) the city in Saudi Arabia.

mentally retarded. The preferred term for those with significantly subaverage intellectual functioning. Do not use retard as a noun.

merger. Not a synonym for "acquisition."

Mexico. There are 31 states and Mexico City, the capital and an independent federal district run by a city government. The states are Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Coahuila, Colima, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatan and Zacatecas.

Mexican states elect their own governor and legislators. Congress is made up of two houses: the lower House of Deputies, with 500 members, and the Senate, with 128 members.

In datelines, use only the city and country.


Mumbai. India's largest city, formerly known as Bombay. (Also, Chennai, formerly Madras.)

  Myanmar. Use this name for the country and the language. Use Myanmar people or Myanmar for the inhabitants. (Formerly Burma.)



news writing. Two words.

Nouri al-Maliki. Preference for spelling the name of the Iraqi prime minister-designate.





Premier League. Top league in England; also the name of the top league in Scotland. Note, too, that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate national teams.






Retarded. Mentally retarded is the preferred term for those with significantly subaverage intellectual functioning. Do not use retard. 

Rhodes scholar. Lowercase scholar and scholarship.


Royal Dutch Shell PLC. A 2005 unification of Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell Transport & Trading Co., with headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. The company specializes in petroleum and related products. Holdings include Shell Oil Co., a U.S. corporation, with headquarters in Houston.

Rust Belt



SEAL(s). A special operations force of the Navy. The acronym is for sea, air, land.

(See also special forces.)


Shell Oil Co. This U.S. company, with headquarters in Houston, is part of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which owns more than half of the stock in Shell Oil.

  Shiite. The spelling for this branch of Islam. Plural is Shiites. (See Islam.) 
Siniora. Preferred spelling for Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

speedskating. Scoring is in minutes, seconds and tenths of a second. Extend to hundredths if available.



Taser. Trademark for an electronic control device or stun gun. (Acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.)

Texas Hold ’em. The poker game.

transsexuals See transgender.

Transgender. Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.



USA. No periods in the abbreviated form for United States of America.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. An agency of the Department of Homeland Security, it includes the Border Patrol.

United Farm Workers of America

US Airways. Formerly USAir. Acquired by America West Holdings Corp. in 2005. The combined company retains the US Airways name. Headquarters in Tempe, Ariz.


Video slugs. If AP Video is available with a story, put "AP Video" at the end of the Eds: note. This is not necessary if you are dragging a video link directly into the story.

voice mail. Two words.





Yahoo. A trademark for an online computer service





Changes were made in Sports (Major College Basketball Conferences and gymnastics) and to the Briefing on Media Law and Filing Practices sections.

The following entries were deleted: COBOL; FORTRAN; Metric Conversion Chart; sex changes; Venator Group; Woolworth’s