AP style tips for the Emmys, Oscars and other awards shows

For entertainment lovers, the first part of the year is chock-full of ceremonies honoring artists’ achievements. If you’re writing about one of them, use these rules to guide you.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, but people’s love of awards shows might be waning.

Adele shone at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night, grabbing awards for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Song of the Year and more. Though the singer had a terrific night, ABC did not: The show hit a new record low for the number of viewers, with 11.3 million tuning in. (2014’s Emmys had 15.6 million viewers.)

The New York Times reported:

The Emmy numbers follow a trend for slumping awards shows. The [2016] Oscars hit an eight-year low this year, and the Grammys hit a seven-year low. MTV’s ” Video Music Awards” lost a third of its audience last month compared with the year before.

With the buzz of last night’s ceremony still on our minds, entertainment fans can look forward to the 89th Academy Awards on Feb. 26—as TV executives anxiously wait to see whether viewer numbers can be regained.

Whether you’re writing an article about takeaways for PR pros from an awards show that has already passed or reporting predictions about the upcoming Oscars, these AP style tips can help you craft stellar copy.

Show names and abbreviations

It’s important to call each awards show by its proper name, but they all have acceptable shortened terms on second reference.

Presenters, attendees and quotations

When describing an awards show’s presenters and what they said (or flubbed), AP Stylebook has a few tips to follow:

If you’re mentioning a nominated artist, use a hyphen in the compound modifier:

When offering a quote, the use of a comma or a colon before it depends on its structure. (If it’s a particularly lengthy quote, you might want to use a block quote.)

Red carpet and fashion

Covering the red carpet for the Emmys or Oscars? It doesn’t have to be that color to receive the designation:

Don’t use the term “nude” when you can substitute a more precise term for the color of clothing:

Doing so can avoid confusion over what constitutes “nude”:

If you are writing a piece about “La La Land”—or would simply like to emulate its dancing stars—the shoes Emma Stone wore are called “spectator shoes.”

Speaking of colors:

It might sound like jargon, but “swag” is the appropriate term to use when describing the free gifts participants receive:

Whether it’s describing ostentatious swag or an attendee’s over-the-top wardrobe, “froufrou” is the word you’ll want to use:

Reactions and behavior

Hoping for an upset during this year’s Oscars? If you’re writing about an actor’s or actress’s composure during such a situation, used “fazed,” not “phased”:

If you’re describing the inebriation levels of dejected losers or exultant winners, keep your use of the term “drunk” correct with this tip:

The AP doesn’t weigh in on acceptance speeches per se, but when the music starts to play, wrap it up and get off the stage.


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