[APG Public List] State name abbreviations

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Sat Nov 27 11:26:06 MST 2010

Debbie wrote:
>There is another possibility for the confusion on state name abbreviations.
_The Associated Press Stylebook_, used by many newspapers, is the source of
seeing everything from two, three, and four letter abbreviations to full
state names spelled out.
>Check under abbreviations at the following link (second page) to see what
AP suggests for state names. Note that AP uses Pa. for Pennsylvania.
Good point, Debbie. It might also help those on the list who aren't
professional writers to know that AP Style defines the conventions generally
used in the (U.S.) newspaper world as compared to the rest of the writing
and publishing world.  Newspapers, back in the days of typesetting each
character by hand, adapted some publishing conventions to enable them to set
type faster. For example:
-       A book or magazine publisher could afford to take the time to switch
to italic letters for book and magazine titles. But a daily newspaper,
hand-setting each character of every line of every story and under pressure
to get it all done in time for that day's edition, created shortcuts.
Instead of switching to italics for every letter of a book or magazine
title, they would just stick a quotation mark before and after.  Meanwhile,
for us as writers, there's no time-saving imperative and-as both researchers
and writers-there's considerable advantage to observing the distinction
between using italics for book and magazine titles vis a vis quotation marks
for the titles of articles and chapters within those books and magazines. 
-       Because newspaper columns were skinny, in comparison to book columns
that stretched all the way across the page, they adopted shorter paragraphs.
"Normal" expository writing, which we learned in school and are expected to
follow in our historical and biographical writing, calls for (a) every
paragraph having a topic sentence and then (b) typically, three or more
sentences to 'develop' the topic sentence. That creates good, thoughtful
writing. It also works well with wide columns of books and journals. But
with newspapers, a paragraph of that length would create a block of text
that ran way down the column; so newspapers (and magazines with skinny
columns) don't follow the same practice.
-       Similarly, to save both space and time, instead of writing out small
numbers amid sentences, they adopted the use of Arabic numbers.
-       &c, &c, &c.
For all of us, as 'everyday' researchers and writers, it all boils down to
(a) defining our readership or forum; and (b) using the conventions that
exist for that forum.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
The Evidence Series
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