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What’s New in AP Stylebook 2014

The AP Stylebook 2014 just came out, and my copy arrived in the mail on Wednesday. I have studied it searching for changes you might want to know about (if you don’t subscribe to the AP’s tweets), and they appear below. If you are not familiar with The AP Stylebook, it’s a style guide for writers and editors. Most U.S. newspapers and newsletters, along with many businesses, follow it. (I just peeked at it to be sure my rendering of U.S. is correct with periods. It is–but use no periods in a headline.)

Over vs. more than. I am delighted that AP has finally joined The Chicago Manual of Style, The Gregg Reference Manual, and Garner’s Modern American Usage in accepting over as synonymous with more than. AP 2014 describes over as acceptable in all uses to indicate greater numerical value” and offers this example: “The crop was valued at over $5 billion.”

Names of states. The other significant change for business writers is the spelling out of state names in sentences, even when they appear with cities. Last year’s AP Stylebook would have approved “The students from Portland, Ore., visited two Springfield, Mass., colleges. But AP 2014 wants the sentence this way: “The students from Portland, Oregon, visited two Springfield, Massachusetts, colleges. For those of us who cannot remember W.Va. for West Virginia and Wyo. for Wyoming–or who don’t like abbreviations in our sentences–this change is a gift.

District of Columbia. Like states, District of Columbia is AP‘s new preference over D.C. Second references to the District of Columbia should now be the District (formerly the district).

These new AP entries will help your punctuation and usage: 

dis, dissing, dissed (not defined in AP, but it’s a slang verb meaning “to disrespect”)

first aid as a noun, first-aid as an adjective

goer as part of a compound word does not require a hyphen (concertgoer, partygoer)

hands-free is always hyphenated

in vitro fertilization has no hyphen

onboard is one word as an adjective (“onboard entertainment”), two words otherwise (“let’s get on board”)

Q&A format now has no hyphens (AP used to prefer Q-and-A format)

whistleblower now has no hyphen

These new entries will confirm your spellings:

“Auld Lang Syne”

Caucasus Mountains 


gyp, meaning “to fraud or swindle someone”


Capitalization questions? These new entries may help: 


ID (acceptable abbreviation for identification, ID card)

LGBT (acceptable on first reference for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; spell out in body of the story)

Lyme disease
MERS (correct on second reference for Middle East respiratory syndrome)



If you write about sports, note that AP now says Super Bowls should be identified by their year, not by Roman numerals, except in formal references. (Past Stylebooks recommended using Roman numerals sparingly for Super Bowls.) Also, AP now stresses that soccer is an American term for what the rest of the world calls football. 

Need to use the latest weather terms? AP 2014 has added derecho, monsoon, polar vortex, and storm surge. If you need to use these terms, you probably know what they mean.

Do you write about food? Among the 36 food terms appearing for the first time in AP are:

amaretti (AP says this is an Italian macaroon, but my Italian dictionary says it’s a plural word, with amaretto as the singular)

angel food cake (three words, no capitals)

applesauce (one word)

Baileys (liqueur, no apostrophe)

beef stroganoff (no capitals, compare beef Wellington)

Buffalo wings (capitalized because of Buffalo, New York)

caipirinha (a Brazilian cocktail that is hard to spell)

chiffonade (AP says “to slice vegetables very thinly”; other sources use chiffonade for the vegetables themselves or the technique)

demi-glace (a rich sauce with a hyphen)

foodways (“refers to a set of food traditions”)

kitchen parchment (use instead of parchment paper or baking paper)

Mornay sauce (note the capital letter)

sugarplums (one word)

napa cabbage (note the absence of a capital letter)

taproom (one word)

Tiki bar (note the capital T)

The 2014 version also has a new religion section. You will not need to search for religious terms in the long alphabetical list. Find agnostic, atheist, Allah, Baha’i, Baptist churches, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and others side by side in the same section.

If you, like me, need to have the latest style manuals at hand, I recommend getting The AP Stylebook 2014. Where else would you learn kitchen terms like foodways and cracklings or find Vatican City one entry away from Voodoo?

The print edition of The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law retails for $20.95.  You can also buy an online subscription and automated style checkers. (It would be useful to have the new terms above added automatically to your software’s dictionary, wouldn’t it?)

Will you buy the new guide? Have you tried the online style checkers?


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

11 comments on “What’s New in AP Stylebook 2014”

  • Thanks for this information on the new style guide, and especially for a big laugh at your wonderful comment on “demi-glace.”

  • I’ve bought the new guide but it has yet to arrive. I’m eagerly looking forward to “what’s new.” I’m glad, too, that “over” and “more than” can now be used interchangeably. So many people used to get it wrong. I only wish the guide would help writers to use the first, second and third persons correctly. In their desire to be politically correct, writers will do anything not to use “him” or “her.”

  • Olivia, you’re welcome! I’m glad you liked the sauce with a hyphen.

    Jeannette, thinking about your comment, I picked up the new Stylebook. I was shocked to see this comment under “his, her”: “Use the pronoun ‘his’ when an indefinite antecedent may be male or female: A reporter tries to protect his sources.”

    Not having looked this up before, I am baffled that AP is backward on gender-neutral language. Granted, it adds that “Frequently, however, the best choice is a slight revision of the sentence: Reporters try to protect their sources.” Still, to recommmend “his” for an indefinite antecedent? This is the 21st century.

    By the way, did I miss your point? Please let me know if I did.


  • I’m surprised at AP for including “gyp” as a new entry. It’s hardly new, and I thought it fell out of favor long ago–as an ethnic slur on Romani people–along with “to jew somebody down on the price” and “took him away in the paddy wagon.”

  • Hi, Jim. Thank you very much for your comment. I should have commented on this inclusion too, and I am sorry I didn’t.

    The complete “AP Stylebook” explanation for “gyp” is “Fraud or swindle or to cheat someone. Offensive to Gypsies, also known as Roma.”

    I do not know why this expression was added to the style guide or how it would come up in news writing.

    Thank you again for pointing out the offensiveness of the term.


  • Lynn — I’m shocked, too, by AP’s advice on using “his.” It makes me cringe that in order to be politically correct, a writer will use both singular and plural, as in “A reporter tries to protect THEIR sources.” Be on the lookout and you will see this happening everywhere.

  • I’m glad I saw this so I know that there are things out there called Snapchat and Vine. And I won’t embarrass myself by capitalizing the n in napa cabbage!

  • Hahaha! I literally just learned all the American states and their abbreviations and there you go changing on me again 😀

    Would you perhaps be able to assist with a query?

    I want to purchase the online version and automated style checkers as mentioned above, but will these only apply to my spell-check if I set it to American spelling?

    I do not always use American spelling as I do work for different countries.

    Love the blog 🙂

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