15 AP Stylebook rules for back to school

Will you be ready when the bell rings?


In a few weeks, students nationwide will settle into classrooms for a new school year. Though students might sport the latest fashion and technology trends to stay hip in the halls, here are some school-related terms from the Associated Press Stylebook to help us writers make the grade:

  1. academic departments: Lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives. The marketing department; the department of English.
  2. ballpoint pen: Proper style for students’ writing instruments.
  3. bus, buses: Proper style for the transportation vehicles. The verb forms: bus, bused, and busing. Add an extra s, and you’re insinuating kissing.
  4. chapter: Capitalize when used with a numeral in reference to a section of a book or legal code. Always use Arabic figures. Chapter 1, Chapter 20. Lowercase when standing alone. The book chapters are short.
  5. day care: Two words, no hyphen in all uses.
  6. dean’s list: Lowercase in all uses. He is on the dean’s list for fall semester. She is a dean’s list student.
  7. encyclopedia: Lowercase, but follow the spelling of formal names: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  8. First quarter, first-quarter: Hyphen when used as a compound modifier. She earned highest honors in the first quarter. His first-quarter marks earned him recognition.
  9. F-word: Proper style of an obscenity that when said by students will most likely send them to the principal’s office. Don’t use vulgarities in writing unless they’re part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them.
  10. half day (noun), half-day (adjective): The school has a half day of classes. His half-day classes were easy.
  11. hooky: Proper spelling of what some seniors may play toward the end of the school year.
  12. Pledge of Allegiance: Proper style of the expression of loyalty to the U.S. that some students recite at the beginning of the school day.
  13. principal, principle: Principal is a noun or adjective meaning someone or something first in rank, authority, importance or degree. She is the principal of our school. Principle is a noun that means a fundamental truth, law, doctrine, or motivating force. He argued for the principle of family affairs.
  14. Rhodes scholar: Lowercase scholar and scholarship.
  15. zero, zeros: Correction marks students don’t want to receive for their graded assignments.

Steve Vittorioso is an account executive at InkHouse Media + Marketing, where this story first appeared. Follow Steve on Twitter @savittorioso.

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