Abbreviations and Acronyms
As a general rule, use only commonly recognized abbreviations. The most common, such as NASA, FBI and CIA, can be used on all references. Less well-known but still common ones such as OSHA and NATO can be used after you spell out the full name on first mention. In most cases, however, the stylebook suggests using a generic reference such as the agency or the alliance for all references after the first.
Don’t put unfamiliar abbreviations in parentheses after the first reference (for example, “The American Copy Editors Society (ACES) …”) Instead either repeat the full name on subsequent references or use a generic reference, such as the society.
Use an apostrophe and spell out academic degrees: “She holds a bachelor’s degree.” Use abbreviations for degrees only when you need to include a list of credentials after a name; set them off with commas: “Peter White, LL.D., Ph.D., was the keynote speaker.”
Abbreviate junior or senior directly after a name, with no comma to set it off: Justin Wilson Jr.
Spell out the names of all states when used alone: “He lives in Montana.” Abbreviate state names of seven or more letters when used with a city name, with commas before and after the abbreviation: “Pittsburgh, Pa., is a great weekend getaway spot for people who live in Youngstown, Ohio.” You’ll find the list of acceptable abbreviations under State Names in the stylebook.
Be sure to use the stylebook abbreviations and not the U.S. Postal Service abbreviations for states unless you are providing a full address including ZIP code: “Send contributions to Relief Fund, Box. 185, Pasadena, CA 91030.”
Spell out the name of a month when it is used without a specific date: “August is too hot for a visit to Florida.” Abbreviate months with six or more letters if they are used with a specific date: Sept. 28. Always spell out those with five or fewer letters: May 15. See the list of preferred abbreviations under Months in the stylebook.
Spell out titles used alone: “She was the first female senator from her state.” Abbreviate and capitalize most titles when they are used directly before a name: “Sen. Boxer posed hard questions for Rice.” To determine if a title is abbreviated, look for an entry for it in the stylebook or check the listing under Titles.
Spell out titles with names used in direct quotes with the exception of Dr., Mr. and Mrs.: “Governor Pawlenty is obviously no Jesse Ventura,” she said.
Spell out all generic parts of street names (avenue, north, road) when no specific address is given: “The festival will be held on South Charles Street.” When a number is used, abbreviate avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.), street (St.) and directional parts of street names: “The suspect was identified as Michael Shawn of 1512 N. Mission St.”
In writing news stories, never abbreviate:
The days of the week.
Percent as %.
Cents as ¢.
And as & unless it is an official part of a name.
Christmas as Xmas.
The AP Stylebook uses what’s known as downstyle; that is, words are lowercased unless a rule says to capitalize them. If you can’t find a rule for capitalizing a word in the stylebook, use it in lowercase. Most of the capitalization rules should be familiar to you.
Capitalize common nouns such as party, river and street when they are part of a proper name for place, person or thing: the Libertarian Party, the Ohio River. But lowercase these common nouns when they stand alone or in subsequent references: “The party did not have a candidate for president,” “She nearly drowned in the river.” Lowercase all plural uses of common nouns: the Libertarian and Green parties, the Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
Lowercase the names of the seasons unless they are used in a proper name: the Summer Olympics.
Lowercase the word room except when used with the number of the room or when part of the name of a specially designated room: Room 315, the Lincoln Room.
Lowercase directional indicators except…