Style guide for WSU News releases

WSU News follows the Associated Press Stylebook in most circumstances. AP Stylebooks are available through the WSU Bookstore and AP also sells an online version for an annual fee.

A solid knowledge of AP style will avoid most rewrite problems.


Washington State University should be spelled out in the initial reference; WSU should be used in all subsequent references. Avoid an alphabet soup of acronyms when possible; for example, refer to entities as “the school” or “the college” or “the center” rather than SBS, SESRC, CAS, CEREO, etc.

Academic degrees

AP indicates a preference for spelling them out; but since WSU is an academic institution and uses numerous degrees all the time, short forms or abbreviations are fine: bachelor’s degree, master’s, B.A., Ph.D, MBA, BSN, etc. AP only uses the title “Dr.” in medicine; WSU News finds it unnecessary for academic or medical doctors.


Readability studies have shown that capital letters slow readers; this pause gives them the opportunity to exit the story – the more capitals, the more invitations to leave. WSU News downplays capitalization as much as possible.

Direct quotes

Attribute direct quotes using the word “said” (past tense), rather than words like “says,” “commented” or “opined.”

Event times

List in the order of time, day (if needed), date (example: 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15). Abbreviate months as per AP Style. The year typically isn’t necessary.

Phone numbers

The standard format is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Hyperlinks and URLs

Accessibility guidelines call for using hyperlinks embedded into the narrative text of an article rather than listing the full URL. This represents a change from past practice to better serve all readers. Using the full URL can be considered instead of a hyperlink can be considered when the link is short or easy to read, such as or

Italics and titles

AP doesn’t use italics, not even for periodical names, and neither does WSU News. Put quotation marks around the names of works of composition (books, song titles, etc.) except the Bible and books that are primarily catalog references.

Media advisories and notes to editors

Use the media advisory or note to editors to let media representatives know if there are interview or photo opportunities, if they need to RSVP, etc. Paragraphs should begin Media Advisory: or Note to Editors: and not Editor’s Note:, which is used to denote a comment from the editor of a publication.

Photo formats and quality

When available, send photos in JPG or TIFF format with 300 dpi (print quality) as an attachment with the emailed release. Photos will be posted online with the release and made available to the media should they be requested.


Complete quotations should be separate paragraphs, rather than starting within a paragraph. Quotes should be attributed to a specific individual. Lengthy quotes may be broken into two or more paragraphs, but the closing quotation mark should not be used in any paragraph that ends with a direct quote that is continued in the subsequent paragraph.

Release distribution and timing

Unless another release date is specified, WSU News typically distributes news releases the day they are received. However, in certain instances – particularly when releases are received late in the day or on a Friday afternoon – WSU News will delay release until the next full working day. This is done primarily to ensure the release receives better attention from editors and reporters. If you are forwarding a release late in the day that must be distributed that day, please provide that information.

Subject matter and timeliness

WSU News issues news releases on virtually all topics related to the university and the broader university community. It should be remembered, however, that these releases are intended primarily for external audiences and the purpose is to create media interest and coverage. Topics unlikely to be of interest to the media – such as reports of events that have already transpired or otherwise provide little or no opportunity for media representatives to attend, conduct interviews or ask follow-up questions – should be avoided.


Avoid using superscript (34th). Note that MS Word Autocorrect options default to superscript with ordinals with two separate settings, which can both be reset. (Tools; Autocorrect Options; Autoformat; uncheck Ordinals (1st) with superscript and Tools; Autocorrect Options; Autoformat as you type; uncheck Ordinals (1st) with superscript).

Track changes

Turn off Track Changes, if it has been used in drafting your release, before sending the release to WSU News.