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One-off style question for my brothers and sisters

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SF_Express, May 3, 2011.

  1. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I'm just curious as to whether anybody knows why AP makes it U.S. in copy and US in headlines (and this morning, my local newspaper followed suit, prompting this).

    Before anybody goes and does any hound-releasing, I know I could fire off an Ask the Editor to AP, but I'm figuring I might get an entertaining (but knowledgeable) answer here. I'm figuring Frank Ridgeway or somebody will say, "Well, in 1943, a Linotype operator in New York spilled hot coffee in his lap while typing a story about the US war effort and neglected the periods for expediency's sake, and his boss, J.J. Winkle, decided it looked better that way" or something like that.

    Anybody have the answer?
  2. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    To make headlines shorter, and therefore enable them to be bigger. And it does date back to the old days of setting type, etc.

    What I'd really like to hear is the AP's justification for U.S. and U.K. having periods, but EU not having them. (I agree with not having periods in EU, by the way. It looks stupid if you add them. But I'd like to know if there's a reason.)
  3. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    This also is why I generally dislike headlines in all caps.
  4. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    Don't worry, they'll change it again in a year when they want to sell more style guides.
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Good point generally, but this US business has been with us a long time. The typesetting notion makes sense -- although AP sets no type anymore ....
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I have no idea. We have our own stylebook and follow AP only when our in-house style does not address it. Our style is U.S. in heds, U.S. in body type as a modifier and United States as a noun in body type (not U.S., an exception to AP).

    My feeling is that on a lot of style points, valid arguments can be made a couple ways. The best in-house stylebook I ever used acknowledged this in the preface and then said something like, "The purpose of this book is not to create such arguments but to settle them." Generally, I prefer that arbitrary approach: "Because that's how our newspaper wants it."
  7. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    It was answered in the Ask the Editor section a few years back:

    Q. Just curious as to the rationale for dropping periods in U.S. in headlines. Our paper uses all-cap headlines in news briefs, and it looks odd, and probably makes readers pause, to have "US" written that way.
    A. AP stories now use US and UN in headlines without periods, %primarily a space-saving change. 2008-07-08

    Same with EU:
    Q. Please explain why U.K. uses periods but EU does not.– from St. Petersburg, Florida on Tue, Apr 12, 2011
    A. EU is one of a few two-letter abbreviations spelled without periods in texts and headlines. It's strictly an AP usage/style issue. Like many other two-letter abbreviations, U.K. takes periods in within stories, but is spelled UK without periods in headlines, largely as a space-saver.

    To me, it's dumb and makes no sense. Put the periods in heds and body type or don't. Doing one or the other is stupid.
  8. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Heck, I still can't figure out why it's always "U.S." but never "U.S.A" or "USA" (except on Olympic jerseys and mastheads of national newspapers).

    And why is it "God Bless America" instead of "God Bless the United States of America"
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