I remember Calif.

The Associated Press recently announced a significant change in its style on abbreviations for U.S. states. The change takes effect today (May 1).

For decades, the AP Stylebook called for editors and writers to abbreviate state names when they accompanied the names of towns and cities. Example: “She drove from Macon, Ga., to Roanoke, Va., in seven hours.”

There were exceptions, of course. Some cities were deemed significant enough to stand alone. Some state names were so short that they were never abbreviated.

The new style recommends spelling out all state names in story text and, when possible, in headlines. So we’d edit the earlier example like this: “She drove from Macon, Georgia, to Roanoke, Virginia, in seven hours.” But the abbreviations will remain in datelines, captions and lists.

Not everyone is on board with the change, which AP says reflects a more global view of editing. The McClatchy-Tribune wire service said it would ignore the new style, as did McClatchy’s Washington bureau. Gerri Berendzen, a copy editor at the Herald-Whig in Illinois, said on Twitter that newspaper would also keep the old style.

As the writer and editor for this blog, I use AP style, so I will go along with this change. Of course, you are free to do otherwise, and I will respect your choice. After all, stylebooks are made up of suggestions, not commandments.

So no more Mo. A fond farewell to Fla. I’ll remember you, Calif. We’ll see less of each other from now on.



  1. “As the writer and editor for this blog, I use AP style, so I will go along with this change.”

    This seems like an odd, uncritical rationale for an academic. Shouldn’t we judge such things on their individual merits, and leave default-to-self-appointed-authority thinking to those who don’t challenge themselves or don’t choose to develop their faculties for critical thinking?

    Every good news organization has dozens, if not hundreds, of common-sense exceptions to AP style. (We’ll set aside for now the question of why anybody outside of AP uses AP style.) Those exceptions are the product of thoughtful conversations and sharp-minded arguments. As someone presumably charged with helping students become better critical thinkers, shouldn’t you set that tone here and do the same?

    In other words, defend or attack. Don’t just go along. Nobody learns from that.

  2. We just discussed this in our copy editor meeting today. We’ll be sticking with the old style — though instead of AP’s abbreviations, we use US postal codes.

  3. Jim, I follow AP style because this is a blog about writing and editing in the journalism area. I have been Chicago-curious for a while, though. 🙂

    As for this particular change by AP, I can go either way: abbreviate state names as before or spell out. It makes no difference to me. (I felt the same way about over vs. more than.) So I’ll accept it and move on. I do find it interesting that others are rejecting this recommendation, which makes me wonder if AP will reverse itself.

    I am more interested in style choices with larger meanings: same-sex marriage or gay marriage? Burma or Myanmar? Charlotte, N.C., in a dateline or just Charlotte? Freshman or first-year student? I do an exercise in my editing course on those sorts of choices.

  4. I thought the controversy over Burma or Myanmar was over when Target sold that world map shower curtain using Myranmar. That has been about 3 years ago. I remember when I hung it in “the Boy’s” bath you did an extensive look see to see which was used.
    I do not plan to use AP when addressing mail. CA just doesn’t cut it. I am a Calif. girl.

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