There Are No Periods in ‘LA’: Copy Desk Notes

Dear editors,

Some copy issues are harder to explain than others (there’s an entire book written about the hyphen, for instance). But today I’m highlighting three common errors that are easily fixable once you know the rule.

1. There are no periods in LA

While Washington, D.C., and most other two-letter acronyms get periods on Eater and Curbed (but not on Racked), LA does not. If you’re unsure about how to punctuate an acronym, give me or Racked’s Laura Gurfein a shout on Slack.

2. Spell out state names

Until a few years ago, AP Style dictated that state names should be abbreviated within story copy. But that’s no longer the case. When you’re writing the name of a state, spell it out all the way.

3. [Number] and a half constructions don’t need hyphens

There’s no need for hyphens in phrases like two and a half hours, which functions as a noun. Other examples: one and a half bathrooms, a year and a half.

If you’re using the and a half phrase as part of a longer modifier, however, you’ll need hyphens: a three-and-a-half-hour trip. Here, three-and-a-half-hour joins together to modify the noun trip.

Copy Error of the Week

Tuesday evening, the Manhattan Transit Authority tweeted a mea culpa after yet another day of train drama. But I can’t forgive them for the perpetual signal malfunctions or the copy errors: That should be 1930s-era signal interlocking, of course.

New to the Word Lists

This week’s additions: backcountry, gabion, man-made, streambed, houseplant, all year round, counteroffer, flip side, storyline, barback, Eurocentric, Jell-O, napa cabbage, dark and stormy, Moscow mule, pecorino Romano, and Walmart.

Feel free to ping me anytime you’re confused about how to spell or style a word! AP Style rules don’t always follow common usage, so it’s well worth asking (plus, it helps me build out our style guides and word lists).

In Other News…

From Twitter, a CNN chyron with a surprisingly elegant use of colons and semicolons:

And some important intel: I’ll be out next Tuesday, June 27, and all of the following week (July 3 to 7). DM me if you have questions about that!

Best,

Emma

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