Style Guide

Her Campus closely follows AP style. If what you’re looking for isn’t included in this style guide, refer to the AP Stylebook.


  • Intros should be 150-250 words, and should be rich with keywords related to the SEO title.
  • You don’t need to link an SEO phrase in the intro. If you do link anything in the intro, though, make sure it is an internal link, and the anchor text is rich and specific. (Ex. “the color of her dress” instead of words like “check it out here.”) 
  • Use up to three internal links in the intro. Use as many internal links throughout the rest of the piece as you’d like.
  • Links in the intro should be Her Campus links only — leave any links from other brands or social media sites for the second graf or lower.
  • Make sure to have at least 200 words in your article before the first embed (photo, tweet, IG embed, etc.).

Headline Best Practices

  • Capitalize the first letter of all words.
  • Use numerals for numbers in headlines, even if the number is under 10.
  • Use K, M, and B to denote thousand, million, and billion, respectively. (Ex. Hailey Bieber’s $50K Bag Is Worth More Than My Entire Life)
  • For hyphenated words, capitalize each word.
  • Use singular quotation marks around the titles of books, shows, movies, etc.
    • The ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Premiere Shook Me To My Core
  • Use double quotation marks around songs and episode titles.
  • Use “&” not “and” in your headlines.
  • For listicles, say “The Top 10 X” instead of “Top 10 X.”
  • See here for help crafting SEO-friendly headlines.
  • See here for help with crafting clicky Social headlines.

Dek Best Practices

  • Your dek should be no more than 140 characters long.
  • Your dek should be a short and snappy sentence to summarize the article, or an enticing quote from the article.
  • Do not write “Read on to find out,” or any variation thereof.

Subheader Best Practices 

  • Only the first word of the subheader should be capitalized (unless it includes a proper noun).
  • Subheaders should look like sentences, so use a period at the end.
  • See here for inserting and using different headings on

Photo Best Practices 

  • Use embeds from social media over screenshots in all cases, unless it’s the hero image.
  • Media that can be embedded safely includes non-professional photos/videos from celebrities/influencers with big followings as well as tweets without media. 
  • Always get permission from noncelebrities to use their photos/videos, and get permission from the photographer (not the celebrity/influencer who posted it) when the photo is professional.
  • GIFs really slow down the page. Include one if you’re talking about a GIF, but otherwise, don’t include GIFs in your articles or use them as Hero Images.
  • Reminder to have 200 words in your article before the first photo or embed.

Tagging Best Practices 
Be sure to read through our full tag guide.

Style Basics
Her Campus and associated terminology

  • Her Campus is always two words. It is NOT HerCampus. 
  • The possessive of Her Campus is Her Campus’.
  • HCXO should always be capitalized, unless referring to Her Campus’s online store,, in which case it is stylized all lowercase. 
  • Don’t use the term Collegiette — it’s been retired. 


  • Refer to If more than one spelling is listed, use the first listing. 
  • Use American English spellings, unless writing for a chapter outside of the U.S. 


  • Use numerals always. (Ex: “The 21-year-old woman” or “She is 21 years old.”)
  • One caveat: Use twentysomething instead of 20something. 
  • Use boy and girl for ages 1-17, and man and woman for 18 and older.
  • If referring to decades, such as “a woman in her 20s,” do not use an apostrophe.


  • Abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug. Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. when using a date along with the month. (Ex. Dec. 15)
  • Write out the entire month when the date is not attached. (Ex. She dropped the album in September.)
  • Never use 2nd, 3rd, 4th. Say Nov. 2, July 3, Aug. 4. 
  • Use “No.” for number. (If something hits the Billboard charts, you should say it peaked at No. 1 on the chart instead of number one.)
  • Make sure to close the comma after the year: Taylor Swift was born on Dec. 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania. 
  • For decades, write as follows: the 1980s, the '80s - not the 80’s.
  • When referring to a day in the past or future, do not refer to it in relation to the day you’re writing. Rather than writing “last night,” be specific and write “on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 10.” Don’t write “tomorrow”; write “March 9,” since you don’t know when someone will be reading your article. 


  • Use apostrophe-S to denote possession – not plurality – of singular nouns. (Ex. Erik’s shoes are blue.) Use S-apostrophe to show possession of a plural noun. (Ex. The states’ rights.)
  • What happens when the noun itself ends in S? To show possession for a generic noun that ends in S, add apostrophe-S. (Ex. the virus’s reach.) To show possession for a proper noun that ends in S, use only an apostrophe. (Ex. James’ job, Hercules’ strength.)


  • Ellipses are typically used to indicate that we cut words from a direct quote, but can also be used to suggest hesitation or a thought trailing off. 
  • Use spaces on either side of an ellipsis to indicate words being omitted. 
  • If an ellipsis ends a sentence to indicate trailing off, don’t add an additional period. 
  • Adding an exclamation mark or question mark after an ellipsis is acceptable.
  • Examples:
    Swift tells me, “The making of the album … was rough.”
    “Are you sure…?” Swift asks me.

Em-Dash and En-Dash

  • Em-dashes can be used for emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought. 
  • Before using an em-dash, ask yourself — can it be replaced with any other less-disruptive form of punctuation? If you must use an em-dash, put a space on either side.
  • Example:
    Jess thought — and who wouldn’t? — that the terms and conditions were unacceptable.
  • We don’t use en-dashes (–). To show a range, just use a regular dash.
  • Example:
  • Anyone ages 18-24 is eligible to apply.


  • Set in italics except when contained within a quote, in which case, a thought is treated as an interrupting sentence.
  • Example:
    I thought to myself, would one cup of coffee ever be enough for me?
    “And I thought to myself, ‘Would one cup of coffee ever be enough for me?’” she says. 


  • Use italics, not all caps, to emphasize one word of a phrase. To emphasize a word that’s already italicized, use all caps in addition.
    Right: Not to be dramatic, but that wine was the best I’ve ever had.
    Wrong: Not to be dramatic, but that wine was the BEST I’ve ever had.
    Right: I thought to myself, this glass of the wine is the BEST I’ve ever had.

Consecutive Adjectives

  • Use a comma if the adjectives each modify the noun on their own. 
    • Ex. a short, tight dress.
  • Do not use a comma if the first adjective modifies the second adjective + noun.
    • Ex. a short lace dress. (If this was “lacy,” it would need a comma. Ex. a short, lacy dress)
  • If you don’t want to think about it too hard, use this cheat: Replace the comma with “and” and reverse the two adjectives. Does it still make sense? If so, keep the comma. If not, don’t use a comma.

Point of View

  • Avoid the “royal we/us.” Articles should be written from your, the author’s, point of view and shouldn’t speak for anyone else. 
  • Use adjectives like you, I, they, he/her, she/him to be clear about who you’re talking about and to. 


  • Her Campus uses the Oxford comma. (Ex. Tina ate brownies, cookies, and cake for dinner.)
  • Commas and periods always go inside closed quotation marks.
  • Semicolons and colons never go inside closed quotation marks.
  • Single quotation marks should only be used within double quotation marks.
  • Question marks and exclamation points go inside closed quotations only when it applies to the last word inside the closed quotation mark.
  • Examples:
    Does Gretchen always say, "That’s so fetch"?
    Karen said, “There’s a 30 percent chance that it’s already raining!”
    Did he say, “I love you”?
  • When part of a sentence falls inside parentheses but part falls outside, the period goes outside.
  • When an entire sentence is in parentheses, the period goes inside.
    Fall nail trends are all over Pinterest (and Instagram and TikTok, too, for that matter).
    (I like some of the fall nail trends, but not others.)
  • Always use parentheses and not brackets.

Names (celebrity)

  • Use the full name of the celebrity on first reference and last name on subsequent mentions, unless their fans really only know them by their first name (reality stars, influencers) or we’re talking about two people with the same last name (Kardashians, D’Amelios) where last names would get confusing.
  • In interviews, use last name on subsequent mentions always, unless we’re talking to two people with the same last name.

Names (non-celebrity)

  • Use the full name of the person on first reference and last name on subsequent mentions for expert sources, and first name on subsequent mentions for student sources. 
  • Expert sources should also be referred to with their appropriate title on the first mention, if applicable (e.g., Dr. Susan Smith on first mention, Smith on second mention).

State Names

  • Spell out the full state on all occasions, and use after a city name unless the city is listed below.

Cities that do not require state names 
Las Vegas
Los Angeles
New Orleans
New York City
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco

Country Abbreviations

  • U.S. unless used in the headline – then it’s US.
  • U.K. unless in the headline – then it’s UK.

Curse Words/Profanity

  • Curses should not be used in headlines or deks. When necessary in an article, use asterisks over the vowels. Some examples:

  • Words you don’t need to star:
    Damn it


  • General rule: Spell out all numbers under 10. Write all numbers 10 and over in numerical form. BUT: 2 million; 3 billion. Use split numerals and spelling out beginning at 1 million. (So: 100,000. Not 100 thousand.)
  • Beginning of a sentence: Spell the number out: Six people are at the conference. If it’s a number that’s awkward to write out (1,568 people attended the conference), then rephrase it. (The conference drew 1,568 people on its first day.)
  • Fractions: Write out fractions: one-quarter; three-fifths (exception to the exception: mixed numbers. In the case of mixed numbers, use a decimal. (She got 7.5 hours of sleep last night.)
  • Phrases: Spell the number out: a picture is worth a thousand words; dressed to the nines. (Exception to the exception: 9-to-5 job)
  • Statistics: Use numerals: 1 in 5 women
  • Temperature: Use numerals and spell out degrees. (It was 9 degrees Fahrenheit that night.)
  • Percentages: Use percent sign: (24%, 3%, 0.1%)
  • Dimensions: Use numerals. Don't use apostrophes or quotation marks to indicate feet and inches. (He is 5 feet 6 inches tall; the 5-foot-6 man.)
  • Time: Use numerals. Spelling out noon and midnight is OK. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes unless it is on the hour. Use a.m. and p.m. If you need to include time zones within the United States, use EST, CDT, PST, etc. Spell out time zones not within the United States. Spell out numbers under 10 when referring to days, weeks, months, years. (six months, 24 days)
  • Money: Use the dollar sign, don’t write out dollars. ($15, not 15 dollars)
  • Approximation: Use about, not around
  • Distances: Use numerals. (Social distancing includes staying 6 feet away from other people.)
  • Fewer than vs. less than: Use fewer than for things you can count, and less than for things you can’t count. (There were fewer than 50 people at the concert. You care way less than I do.)

Says vs. Said

  • When quoting someone, use “said” (past tense) in newsier stories/when quoting other sources, and “says” (present tense) in features, interviews, etc, when you are obtaining the quotes firsthand.


  • Don’t add “d” to “-size.” So: oversize, not oversized; queen-size, not queen-sized.

Projects (Movies, Shows, Books, Websites, etc.)

  • Italicize the names of movies, TV shows, books, magazines, podcasts, albums, plays, musicals, and concert tours. In a headline, use single quotation marks.
    • Do not put the release year after films unless referring to a film that has been remade. In that case, add the release year in parentheses after the title to indicate which film you’re discussing IF you’re talking about both (or many) films in the piece. 
  • Use double quotation marks for song names, episode titles (TV, podcast), and magazine article titles. In a headline, continue to use double quotation marks.
  • Do not italicize band names or put in quotation marks. 
  • For websites that have a print version, italicize them. For websites that don’t have a print version, don’t italicize. (Vogue, Us Weekly, Refinery29, Bustle)

University/College Terminology

  • Lowercase the names of academic departments and majors. Only capitalize proper nouns. (majoring in women’s studies; majoring in English)
  • Spell out the school’s full name on first reference. You can use its abbreviation after that.
  • Graduates:
    • alumna - female singular
    • alumnae - female plural
    • alumnus - male singular
    • alumni - male plural, male and female plural
  • Bachelor’s degree - Lowercase and never B.S. or bachelor of arts, same for master’s degree.
  • Coed - It’s not hyphenated.
  • Fraternity/Sorority - Use Greek name and Fraternity/Sorority on first reference, and Greek name on second reference. (Theta Chi Fraternity on first reference, and just Theta Chi on second.)
  • Homecoming - Lowercase, only capitalize when referring to the official title of a specific school’s event.
  • Professor - Don’t capitalize it unless there is a name following. (The professor said no. Professor Allison Smith spoke to the class.)
  • Resident assistant - RA on second reference.
  • Seasons vs. semesters - Fall, Spring and Summer are uppercase when referring to semesters. Lowercase for seasons. (Ex. Spring semester happens in the spring.)
  • Student body - Lowercase.
  • Student Government - Always capitalized, SG on second reference if you’d like.
  • Teaching assistant - TA on second reference.
  • Years - don’t capitalize them (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior).

Misc. Grammar Notes

  • Use contractions to establish a conversational tone; note that contractions should be consistent throughout an article.
  • Inclusive Language: Use “he or she,” “they,” “SO” or “partner” when referring to love interests.
  • Versus: Use vs. for simple things (apples vs. oranges), versus for complicated things (time spent at the mall versus time spent at the movies). Use v. for legal cases.
  • Nerve-wracking, not nerve-racking.
  • OK, not okay.
  • Workout as noun, work out as verb.
  • Astrology: Zodiac and astrology are lowercase. Specific signs are proper nouns (ex. Libra, Sagittarius). Plural forms of the signs: Arians, Taureans, Geminis, Cancers, Leos, Virgos, Libras, Scorpios, Sagittarians, Capricorns, Aquarians, Pisceans.

Sourcing and Editor’s Notes

Using sources

  • When crediting a source in a story, do not use brackets. Not even at the end of the post. Instead, credit the original source (so if Us Weekly links to TMZ, your source is not "Us Weekly reports"; it's "TMZ reports") by writing it into your story and linking it over keyword rich text. (Do not link over “TMZ reports”!) 
  • Use the full, official name on first reference to a source. Abbreviated versions may be used afterward. So: “The New York Times” on first citation, and then “the Times” thereafter. 
  • When speaking with your own sources, experts should back up any advice you give. Students or recent grads should provide anecdotal quotes where applicable. See our Media Ethics Guide for more info on reliable sourcing.

Changing Names

  • When providing anecdotes, especially when only a first name is listed, do not change names unless you get a special request from the source due to a topic that is sensitive or embarrassing. 
  • Do not change ages, and do not use one person under multiple names. 
  • When a name is changed, mark the change with an asterisk and note at the bottom of the story “*Name(s) have been changed.”


  • List profession/identifying information before or after the source’s name (psychologist Olivia Smith, PhD, author of Book Title; makeup artist Morgan Jones, owner of Jones Salon).
  • Add a city name if the source’s only identifying information is non-specific, e.g., therapist, psychologist, etc. (Olivia Smith, PhD, a psychologist in Boston).
  • If the source has a book title or university affiliation, there’s no need to list the city name.
  • For sources currently in college that are an active subject in a reported/essay piece, attribute with their full name, school, and year in school. (Ex. Jane Doe, 18, a sophomore at Hofstra University)
  • For sources currently in college that are part of a roundup, attribute with their first name, age, and school (Ex. Sarah, 19, Molloy College)
  • All expert sourcing should be fully cited within the article, and not at the bottom of the article.


  • Use “it” as the pronoun and use verbs in the singular. 
  • Example:
    Glossier has a new line of makeup. It has a new line of makeup.

Fact checking

  • Absolutely everything should be fact checked, from spelling and capitalization to dates to links to statistics and anything in between. Even if something looks right, double-check it.

Editor’s Notes

  • Put in brackets, italics within the brackets (do not italicize the brackets themselves), and write out “Editor’s note:” at the start of the note. Example: [Editor’s note: This is a note.]


  • Mistakes happen! Don’t beat yourself up over them, but do make them right. If you’ve printed something erroneously or incorrectly, make a note at the bottom of the article:

If the post contains a simple factual error:

  • A simple factual error is a small mistake or typo that does not affect the larger story. Some examples of simple factual errors are: misspelling of someone's name, incorrect job title, incorrect age.
  • If your post went up more than 15 minutes ago or has been posted on social media, write the correction below the article text. Format as such in all italics: Correction (date): A previous version of this article misspelled Jones’ name. It has been updated to reflect the correct spelling.
  • If you add a correction, send it to the site lead for a top read after it’s added to your piece.
  • If it is within 15 minutes of publishing and the post has not yet been socialed, you can just fix the error without a correction note.

If the post contains a major factual error:

  • A major factual error changes the nature and meaning of the story. Some examples of major factual errors are: taking quotes out of context, misquoting someone, information that you misread or misinterpreted. 
  • Notify the site lead immediately, who will decide a course of action. Do not remove the post unless instructed to.

Formatting Different Types Of Articles 

Interviews and Q&As

  • When interviewing celebrities or campus personalities about projects or events, you’ll typically build it out as a profile style article (for example, here and here). However, in a recurring series, where you ask the participants the same questions – or similar questions slightly tailored to the interviewee – each time, you can format as a Q&A. 
  • To format a Q&A, use normal text bolded on the questions only. The answers should be directly under, with no space between lines. For the first question and answer, write Her Campus before the question, and the full name of the interviewee before their response. For all following Q&As, abbreviate to HC and their initials.
  • Example:
    Her Campus: When he texts you, does he say hey or hi?
    Elizabeth Smith: He says ‘Hi,’ with the emoji that’s winking.

    If two people are being interviewed:
    Elizabeth Smith: blah blah blah
    Martin James: blah blah blah

    HC: And how do you respond?
    ES: I say ‘Hey.’ 

  • With interviews, you’ll want to attribute the first quote from talent as “tells Her Campus.” Every quote thereafter should be “says.” Ex: “My favorite show is New Girl,” Tina Kolokathis tells Her Campus. “My favorite character is Ferguson,” she says.


  • Going forward, updates should be edited right into the original piece. When you’re done updating the story, uptime the piece by setting the publish date to the current date. At the bottom of the article, add a line that says “This article was originally published on TK DATE. It was updated on TKDATE.

If the post is about an embedded video/photo that no longer exists:

  • Leave the post up, remove the dead embed, and update the text in the piece to note that the video/photo has since been deleted. Update all of the text to make it seem like we just published it, and reflect that the piece of media was deleted. Uptime the piece. At the bottom of the article, add a line that says “This article was originally published on TK DATE. It was updated on TKDATE.”


  • For any type of roundup — best picks from a sale, selecting items for a trend that’s popular right now, music to listen to, movies to watch, how to achieve a hairstyle or makeup look — always use a listicle. 
  • You don’t need a photo to support each point, and you really shouldn’t have one unless it’s a shoppable list. (It takes the page longer to load, which isn’t the best experience for readers.) For movies to watch, you can include screenshots for just a few movies instead of all of them. For fall nail trends, though, you’ll want to use an image for each one. 
  • Make sure to have a ~200-word intro before your first listicle item.
  • You don’t need a conclusion at the end of a listicle or a long article.
  • See here for full instructions for building a listicle.

Products/E-Comm Articles

For product roundup listicles: 
1. Item title or description
Product name (link to the product here), $Price (rounded to the nearest dollar) OR include the product mention in the text underneath the image with parentheses that reads (Price)
ADD BUTTON that says See On TKSITE

Pacifica Vegan Collagen Overnight Recovery Cream, $24 OR The best part of my bedtime routine is using my Pacifica Vegan Collagen Overnight Recovery Cream ($24) to set everything in place.
BUTTON: See On Ulta Beauty

For testimonials with ONE product:
Brand name (link to the product here), where it’s available, $Price (rounded to the nearest dollar)

  • In all e-comm instances, use italics. 
  • All product/company names should be spelled and capitalized correctly and in full.
  • Any prices need to be verified and linked to the correct product page.

When using buttons for any product, have button text read “Buy Now”

Career Stories

  • For anything you plan to file under the Career vertical of the site, please add this boilerplate in italics to the bottom of your piece:
    Take the next step in your career journey with Generation Hired, a free virtual career center just for Gen Z. With a job board filled with opportunities, live events, and on-demand expert advice, they're the career besties you need. Join today!

Sensitive Topics

  • There are some topics — rape and sexual assault, suicide, crime, death and mental illness, to name a few — that require extra sensitivity and time. We absolutely encourage you all to write about these real, hard-hitting issues and to do it with care. 
  • If you come up on a story that is heavy, difficult or sensitive, please reach out for guidance. It’s always preferable to help you before the story is published than to clean it up after. For any sensitive piece, you’ll also want to get a top read from the site lead.


  • In the first graf, before any mention of suicide, add a content warning. (Content warning: This story mentions suicide.)
  • Use this boilerplate at the end of your story: If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741.
  • Never say “committed suicide” or “passed away” by suicide. Use “died by suicide.”
  • These stories should never be sensationalized. Details of the method of the death, lurid information that is outside official police/medical reports, or any commentary isn’t necessary.
  • Check in with these guidelines if you need extra guidance:
  • When in doubt, if the story is making headlines across the country, check if the National site already covered it or reach out for advice/edits.

Mental Illness:

  • In the first graf, consider adding a content warning. (Content warning: This story mentions Don’t use words like “crazy” or “insane” or “bipolar” flippantly. 
  • Talk to experts before using medical jargon that you’re not qualified to accurately use. 
  • You cannot diagnose someone you’ve never met, or ask a professional to do so, so don’t try to in your story.
  • Don’t reinforce stereotypes. 
  • Don’t pick photos of people clutching their head in their hands for mental illness stories — it’s cliched, repetitive and plays into stereotypes. 
  • If we touch on suicide or suicidal thoughts, include the boilerplate above listed under Suicide.

Mass Shootings:

  • Remember that as news breaks, many outlets get things wrong. Add to your story with care, making sure to verify your writing with multiple sources and use phrases like “reportedly” and “according to TK source.” 
  • Only police/authorities can declare people dead. Don’t quote body counts based on those news reports (which again, get things wrong). 
  • Be mindful of what first-responders are tweeting out/statements they are releasing. 
  • Look out for hoaxes and don’t embed/uplift unverified information or claims.
  • Do not name the shooter, or glorify them in any way. 
  • Note if the story is still developing at the bottom of your article. 
  • Offer opportunities for readers to help — blood donations, verified GoFundMes for funeral arrangements, information on legislation concerned voters can support, etc.

Rape/Sexual Assault

  • Add a content warning in the first graf of your story. (Content warning: This story mentions rape and sexual assault.)
  • Add this boilerplate to the bottom of your story: If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or visit
  • If the story is about a public figure accusing someone of rape or sexual assault, we must link to the source where they do so (a social media statement, a legal document obtained by TMZ, etc.) We must attribute everything to the said statement or source where we obtained the information. We also must reach out to the accused for a statement or comment and include in our piece, “Her Campus reached out to TK for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.” Everything should be “alleged” and “according to TK.”
  • If we are reporting firsthand on an alleged case of rape or sexual assault, we are required to corroborate the story before publishing it. Doing your due-diligence and ensuring their stories are bulletproof is important.
    • How do you verify? Ask your source who else they told about the assault/incident: a roommate, a teacher, a therapist, a friend, etc. Try to find two people who can corroborate. 
    • Reach out to the accused for a comment or statement to include in the piece. Include in the piece, “Her Campus reached out to TK for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.”
  • Do not contribute details that reinforce rape culture — what a victim/survivor was wearing, what they drank — if they are relevant to their story, you can use them in ways that don’t somehow imply they were responsible or to blame for what happened to them. Try not to perpetuate other myths about sexual assault whenever possible.
  • Do not print a victim/survivor’s name unless they explicitly give you their written consent. 
  • If you need more guidance, check the NSVRC guidelines.


  • It’s important that we write about issues surrounding race with care, and include the voices of diverse backgrounds as much as possible to ensure our coverage and language is appropriate and accurate.
    Broad generalizations and labels should be avoided, and a person’s race should only be mentioned when the story has to do with race. For example, is your post about President Obama, who broke barriers as the first Black president of the United States? Are you reporting on a local BLM protest or instance of police brutality? Or are you writing about the top 7 recipes from your favorite food blogger, where race isn’t necessarily relevant?
  • Black (adj.) Use the capitalized term as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense: Black people, Black culture, Black literature, Black studies, Black colleges.
  • brown (adj.) Avoid this broad and imprecise term in racial, ethnic or cultural references unless as part of a direct quotation. Interpretations of what the term includes vary widely.
  • people of color (revised) (as well as POC, BIPOC, BAME) The term is acceptable when necessary in broad references to multiple races other than white: We will hire more people of color. Nine playwrights of color collaborated on the script.
  • riot, unrest, protest, demonstration, uprising, revolt
    • Use care in deciding which term best applies:
      • A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium. Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial injustice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s. Inciting to riot is a longstanding criminal offense involving two or more people. In the United States, a federal criminal anti-riot act was enacted in 1968 in response to violent civil disturbances and protests of that era.
      • Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt.
      • Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent. They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people.
      • Revolt and uprising both suggest a broader political dimension or civil upheavals, a sustained period of protests or unrest against powerful groups or governing systems.
  • Officer-involved
    • Avoid this vague jargon for shootings and other cases involving police. Be specific about what happened. If police use the term, ask for detail. How was the officer or officers involved? Who did the shooting? If the information is not available or not provided, spell that out.


  • Coronavirus actually refers to a family of viruses that cause diseases such as the common cold, MERS, SARS, and the most recent COVID-19. 
  • As of March 2020, referring to simply the coronavirus is acceptable on first reference in stories about COVID-19. While the phrasing incorrectly implies there is only one coronavirus, it is clear in this context. Also acceptable on first reference: the new coronavirus; the new virus; COVID-19. In stories, do not refer simply to coronavirus without the article the.
  • Cases
    • People should not be referred to as cases. Correct: Fifty people tested positive for the virus. Fifty cases of the virus were reported. Incorrect: Fifty cases tested positive for the virus. Incorrect and redundant: 50 positive cases.

Specific Style For Commonly-Used Words

Health care
Skin care
Hair care
Canceled, canceling
Last-minute when there is a noun following (ex. Last-minute Halloween costumes) but last minute if the noun is the minute (ex. When you wait until the last minute).