In general, Newcity follows Associated Press style guidelines. Listed below are some of the ways in which we differ along with some frequently noted questions. For anything not covered on this guide check the AP Stylebook first and then the dictionary.
We use Merriam-Webster, which has a free edition online: merriam-webster.com
Also, for diversity questions, including personal pronouns and bias-free religious writing, please consult diversitystyleguide.com
For factual questions, the Evanston Library’s Reference Section, (847)448-8630, is one of the best resources around. Also try the Harold Washington Library Center general reference number, (312)747-4300. If you use the Internet, be careful to insure that your sourcing is a primary source. It is very easy to find affirmation of errors, especially spelling errors, online.
If you think we should change or add something to this guide, please email Newcity editor Brian Hieggelke at [email protected], and include your rationale.
Alphabetical by Word or Subject
Refer to AP except:
For locales within the city use no address tags such as street, avenue, etc. For addresses outside the city, abbreviate only Avenue, Street and Boulevard with a specific numbered address, and make sure to note the city. Without specific number address, spell out. Do not abbreviate other terms, such as Road, Circle and Place. Do not abbreviate state names; always spell out. (Indiana, never IN) Do not use Chicago in an address; this is implied. Do not use Illinois either, for the same reasons. The exception would be for lesser-known towns outside of the Chicago metropolitan region.
Addresses following reviews or stories should look like this:
21 East 57th, (773)555-5555. (see numerals entry)
2547 North Lincoln, North North Shore, Wilmette, (847)333-3333.
Not adviser—note the difference from AP.
Always spell out ages, eg nine years old; seventy-five-year-old
Atomic Age: Began Dec 2, 1942.
Bronze Age: 3500-1000 B.C. Comes between the Iron Age and the Stone Age.
Space Age: Began Oct 4, 1957.
ice age: Lowercase, as it denotes not a single period but any series of cold periods marked by glaciation and then relative warmth.
Lower case the names of generic booze—vodka, scotch, whiskey, bourbon, etc. Capitalize brand names and use their constructions—Absolut, Jack Daniel’s, Jameson, Maker’s Mark, etc. Note that when referring specifically to a type of whiskey distilled in Scotland from malted barley it’s Scotch whisky. (Only capitalize scotch when the two are together and only use this spelling for whiskey when the two are together.)
No periods, no space between numeral and tag-note the difference from AP.
10am, 4pm, etc. See also Times.
Capitalize when referring to the U.S. forces, even without the U.S. This goes for
Navy too. Lower case when referring to anyone else.
There is no e on the end of this word.
BAND AND THEATER COMPANY NAMES (plurality)
Verb usage matches the plurality of the name; irrespective of the structure of the band or company:
The Beatles are a great band, they are! Jefferson Airplane is a great band. It is!
Chicago Dramatists are a new theater company; they put on great shows.
Circle Theatre is a large company in the suburbs; it stages original plays.
because of/due to
Because of matches cause to effect. Usually used to ask why in a sentence.
Due to should never be used in anything but a linking verb construction. Due
is an adjective, its preposition to relates to the condition of a subject.
benefit, benefited, benefiting
Beside means “next to” or “at the side of.”
Besides means “in addition to.”
best seller (n.)
Hyphenate only when using as a compound modifier.
The book was a best seller.
Best-selling novelist Stephen King was hit by a car.
When referring to particular lists, use their spelling: New York Times Bestseller List.
Capitalize when referring to the Holy Bible. But lower case the term biblical in all instances.
Use blond as the adjective; blond always denotes color.
Blond is also the noun for males; blonde is the noun for females.
All articles should be set in 12 point, Arial type.
Not a color. Brunet is the adjective for both sexes.
Brunet is the noun for a man, brunette is the noun for a woman.
Capitalize the c.
Never Chicagoland: use Chicago area. Also, capitalize different areas as indicated: South Side, Southwest Side, North Side, Northwest Side, West Side. Also note lowercase for the suburbs: southwest suburbs, northwest suburbs, western suburbs.
This, that and that.
No comma before “and” unless it begins an independent clause.
Capitalize when referring to the U.S. Constitution even without the U.S.
These words are not interchangeable. A cynic is a disbeliever; a skeptic is a doubter.
There are two kinds of dashes: en-dashes (-) and em-dashes (–). En-dashes are used in hyphenated words (like en-dash, or singer-songwriter). Em-dashes are used to set off statements in sentences. Use em-dashes with no spaces–like this. Never this – or this–in copy. Word will auto-correct two en-dashes to an em-dash if between two words, or you can create an em-dash by holding Option and hitting the – key.
DAYS OF THE WEEK
Always spell out: Monday, Tuesday, etc.
Capitalize the proper names of monotheistic deities, God, Allah, the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, etc. Lower case pronouns related to the deity—he, him, etc. Lower case “god” when not referring to the deity of a currently observed religion. For example, the gods of advertising, not the Gods of advertising.
Spell out in stories and listings, e.g. seventies, eighties, nineties. Use seventies or 1970s, but never, ever 1970’s, or 70’s.
Even on first reference.
There is an apostrophe in this grocer’s name.
drum ’n’ bass
In the middle of a sentence, one space is used after the ellipsis… like this. When at the end of sentence, ellipses should be printed like this… .
Do not use a hyphen. For example, Kafkaesque.
When you refer to a number of individual items, use fewer.
When you refer to a bulk, amount, sum, period of time or concept use less.
Capitalize only before referring to a specific woman, for example First Lady Michelle Obama.
One word, no hypen—note difference from AP.
But french fries. Generally, however, nouns will follow the “French toast” capitalization.
fund-raising, fund-raiser, fundraising
But greyhound. (Greyhound for the bus line.)
No logos, ads or posters. Pictures only.
World Wide Web
Rarely used. Use sparingly for emphasis and to set off foreign phrases.
Don’t forget the periods.
When referring to Chicago’s Lakefront. Lower case all other instances.
Not Hispanic, unless in a quote or an organization’s name.
less than, under
Do not use under unless you mean “physically underneath.” If you mean a
lesser quantity or amount use less than.
All event listings at the end of articles should follow this format:
October 12 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 North Lincoln, (773)728-6000, 7pm and 10pm. $35.
You do not need to indicate when a venue is 21+, but please indicate 17+ and all ages.
As in open mic night.
M.L. King Drive
Spell out, do not abbreviate.
more than, over
Again, they’re not interchangeable terms.
Do not use over unless you are referring to a spatial relationship. For figures and amounts the correct term is more than.
Use numerals, no periods. Acceptable on first reference.
In general spell out one hundred and below (note difference from AP). 101 and above are numerals. Use the following rules:
Addresses and phone numbers: Always numerals.
47 West Polk, Suite 100-223
Chicago, IL 60605
(312)243-8786, ext. 26
Ages: Always spell out.
This is my seven-year-old.
He is thirty-four years old.
Beginning of a sentence: Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence, unless it’s a calendar year.
One-hundred-and-one men went into the water.
1977 was a very good year.
Dimensions: Spell out dimensions, inches, feet, miles, ounces, acres and in
all recipes. This includes the seven-inch record.
He is five-feet-six-inches tall. (Use 5’6” in technical contexts, or in reference to sports.)
The car is seventeen feet long.
My drink requires four ounces of vodka.
His estate is six acres.
Fractions: Spell out terms like one-third, one-half, two-thirds.
Large numbers: Even if it’s a million, if the amount is less than 101, spell out.
One million people, ten million people, One-hundred-million people.
Money: Always numerals.
$1, $10, $10 million
Percents: Spell out.
one percent, four percent, ten percent
However, there are exceptions to these rules in quotes and sports terminology:
Quotes: Stick to the way people actually speak and spell out everything but ages.
“I dropped two dollars on the game,” he says. “I’ve been doing that since I was seven years old.”
Sports terms: Use numerals when detailing won/lost records (32-5), (5-1-6). Also use numerals for yardage and other things that actually deal with dimensions. Numerals may also be use for points where appropriate.
OK or okay
Use parentheses, no space between first number and parenthesis. Always give the area code. (708)222-5555
Use prior to when the notion of a requirement is involved.
Generally refer to AP, but:
Plural nouns not ending in s: Add ’s (alumni’s, women’s)
Plural nouns ending in s: Add only apostrophe (churches’, girls’)
Nouns plural in form, singular in meaning: Only apostrophe (mathematics’)
Nouns the same in singular and plural: Treat them as plurals (corps’, deer’s)
Singular nouns not ending in s: Add ’s (church’s, girl’s)
Singular common nouns ending in s: Add ’s unless the next word begins in s (hostess’s invitation, hostess’ seat)
Singular proper names ending in s: Only apostrophe (Achilles’ heel)
First show or performance, not first in rank or importance, which would be premier.
Always use double quotation marks unless you are using a quote within a quote: “One of my customers said, ‘I only read Newcity.’” Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks; colons, question marks and exclamation points go outside the quotation marks unless they are a part of the quote. Semicolons go outside quotation marks.
Not rain forest
Generally use real estate agent, unless you know for sure that the person is a member of the National Association of Realtors.
Capitalize Midwest, East Coast, Eastern Shore (not the same as East Coast), Northeast, North, South, Southwest, etc. Lowercase names within nations: northern France, but note exceptions like Northern Ireland.
As in a 45 rpm, 33 rpm or 78 rpm album. Use numerals, no periods. Acceptable on first reference.
rock ’n’ roll
S & M
spill, spilled, spilling
The past tense of this word is not spilt.
See the back of the AP Stylebook. But general:
home run, but homeruns
Spell out fully.
“Tee” or “tees” are acceptable, but never “tee-shirt.”
This is the generic term. Ping-Pong is the trademark name.
Present tense is preferred: he says rather than he said.
THAT, WHICH, WHO
That is used to restrict meaning, which is used to elaborate on it.
The lawn mover that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one.)
The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the
only mower in question.)
Who can be used in both ways when it refers to people or things endowed by the writer with human qualities.
Unless the name of the venue or company is Theatre: use their construction in reference to them, but the -er construction in all other cases.
We went to see “Aida” at the new Cadillac Palace Theatre; the restored interior of that theater is beautiful.
Not ’til. But why not use until, it’s usually better…
See am/pm. For even hours, without minutes, leave off zeroes; no periods or spaces—3am, 10:30pm. Always use noon, not 12pm; midnight, not 12am. Also note use of noon and midnight, lower case unless beginning a sentence.
TITLES OF WORKS
Always in quotes; never in italics. For example, “Hamlet,” “Aida,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “The Godfather,” “The White Album,” “Mad Men.” Also include conference or panel or speech titles in quotes. Periodical titles take neither. For example, New York Times, Time magazine. (Lowercase magazine when not included in publication title.) Blogs and site titles are treated as periodical titles and take no quotation marks.
No matter what you think, it’s toward, always.
Toys R Us
Certain common phrases in our vocabulary are actually trademarks that must be capitalized. Some names are actually former trademarks that should be lower case.
Capitalize or use a more generic term for:
Astro Turf (artificial turf)
Dumpster (garbage bin)
Fiberglas: Fiberglas is a trademark for the general product fiberglass.
Frisbee (plastic disc)
Jeep (but jeep when referring to army transports)
Kitty Litter (cat box litter): Kitty Litter is a specific brand. Cat litter is generic.
Mace (a brand of tear gas)
Scotch tape (cellophane tape)
Use U.S. only as a modifier: U.S. policy, U.S. government. Full spelling on all other reference.
Never use it. Utilize “use” instead.
Who’s is a contraction for who is
Whose in the possessive.
Check dictionary to be sure, but most will be capitalized. Some generic terms, such as zinfandel, are not.
Top Five Mistakes Writers Make With Copy
+Spelling names of subjects
+Verb agreement with contractions
+Titles in quotes, not italics; periodicals neither