Prefix Magazine Local Style Guide
Prefix Magazine Style Guide
Last Revision: 02.01.09
M. Brandon Wall
Follow the AP Style Guide for style. Use Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition, for spelling; if a word isn’t listed there, check Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of English Language, unabridged. The OED is also good, particularly for historical sense. Words into Type is the source for grammar examples and guidelines, and the New York Times style guide fills some gaps left by these. For more general thoughts on grammar and copy-editing, check Bill Walsh’s two books, The Elephants of Style and Lapsing into a Comma.
The tone of the magazine is friendly, informative, and decidedly not condescending. We are hosting an intelligent conversation among fellow music-lovers — those who know everything about music (or at least think they do) and those who hope to know everything about music (or at least hope to come off that way). We want to create a welcoming atmosphere. Our main goal is to contribute to the ongoing discourse about music and pop culture.
· Put song titles in “quotes” and album titles in italics. Titles of television shows and movies are in italics. Follow standard title rules for capitalization: capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs (including “is”), adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (if, as), and the first and last words; lowercase articles, coordinating conjunctions (but, and), and prepositions of four characters or fewer.
· One space after all punctuation, including periods. We never need two spaces.
· In all instances, commas and periods go inside the quotation marks (Opener “Prelude,” nothing more than…). Colons and semicolons always go outside (For these reasons, the Beatles’ best song is “Cry Baby Cry”: The band…).
· Unless it will result in confusion, do not capitalize the “t” in “the” before a band name.
· Bands, duos, groups: Follow AP Style for group nouns. If referring to the entity itself, use the singular (“it”). If referring to the individuals in the entity, use the plural (“they”). Write around it if necessary (for example, “the members of…”). What’s important is that you’re consistent throughout the sentence — “a band is releasing their album” is a mixed mess.
· On second reference, use the artist’s last name, unless you’re using the first name for effect. (Oh, Conor!)
· Avoid stilted language, including “this reviewer” and, in most cases, the “one” construction (“one can see why this band…”). It puts an unwanted barrier between the writer and reader. Our tone is friendlier and more casual than that.
· Try to avoid referring to bands by their initials, unless it’s cumbersome to continue spelling out the band’s name. We generally want to avoid hastening the language’s devolution into alphabet soup.
· Eschew the serial comma (left, right and center) unless it’s unclear. In lists of band names, for example, it’s often better to separate each element in the list so the distinction between each is clear.
· For tour dates, use this format: XX.XX City, State: Venue.
§ So, 01.12 New York, NY: Knitting Factory
§ If the band is playing with another band worth mentioning, use an asterisk after the venue, and define the asterisk (*) at the bottom of the list. If two bands need to be mentioned, use two asterisks (**). Other symbols are fine, but choose ones that aren’t confusing (don’t use an !, for example).
§ For states, use two-letter postal abbreviation: AL, NJ, NY, etc. This breaks from the running-text style of spelling out state names.
The Watch List: words/phrases/ideas to use sparingly (if at all — they’ve been used enough)
· Hipster, anthemic
· any iteration of “the band is having fun”
· any iteration of the music making you want to dance
· “had me reaching for the fast-forward (or rewind) button”
· lauding an album and then saying it’s “far from perfect” when introducing its flaws
· the parts are better than the whole (or the whole is better than the sum of its parts)
· clichés in all but rare circumstances (the language is vast — take advantage of it; when you have the opportunity to say anything you want and have hoards of people read your words, why use hackneyed phrases and words that aren’t your own?)
(pa): predicate adjective
aah, aahs (n) [sometimes accompanied by “ooh”]
ABBREVIATIONS Generally, use periods with two-letter abbreviations that may be confusing or look odd without them (U.S., U.K., U.N., e.g., i.e., a.m., p.m.); omit periods if three letters or more (CBS, PGA, CEO, ZIP, VIP) and for two-letter abbreviations that look fine without them (VP, CD, EU, MC, DJ). No periods necessary for single-word capped abbreviations (TV), initialisms (CPU, ATM), acronyms (NASA), organizations (IBM), or universities (BU).
· Academic degrees: use periods (Ph.D., M.D.)
· Articles: If the full name is preceded by “the,” so is the abbreviation (the U.N.; the DMV). Abbreviations for universities (UNC) and companies (ABC) do not take articles.
· Eras: A.D., B.C., B.C.E., C.E. (A.D. precedes year, the rest follow.)
· Geographic names: Most geographic names should not be abbreviated in text, except for places beginning with “Saint” (St. Louis). When in a place name, spell out “Mount,” “Place,” “Fort,” “Point” and “Port.” Follow Webster’s Geographical Dictionary and the U.S. Postal Service. For names of people or bands, follow their preference (St. Vincent, Saint Etienne).
· Hyphens: with compound adjectives including abbreviations, use a hyphen (U.S.-born musician); DO NOT use a hypen (-) in the place of an em-dash (–) or a colon (:).
· Measurements: Don’t abbreviate “pounds,” “ounces,” “miles,” “feet,” “inches” or metric measurements such as “kilometer” and “millimeter.”
· The abbreviations rpm and mph don’t need periods.
· Names: For names beginning with two initials, use periods and don’t put a space between each initial (G.G. Allin).
· No periods for a set of initials standing in for a full name (JFK, FDR, TR). No periods for band names referred to by initials, but avoid unless it’s absolutely cumbersome to continue spelling out band name.
· The abbreviations Sr. and Jr. are not preceded by a comma.
· Numerals: Follow AP. Always use them with abbreviations (80 mph) and percentages (45 percent). [See NUMBERS.]
· Percentages: spell out “percent” and use numerals.
· States: Spell out state names when they stand alone. After a city, use abbreviations listed in AP Style Guide: Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah do not have abbreviations. For TOUR DATES: use two-letter postal abbreviations. [See STATE NAMES.]
Aborigines (n): for original Australians; BUT, Australian aborigines
about: preferred over “approximately,” in the case they can be used synonymously
accessible: hyphenate adjectival combos (wheelchair-accessible building); BUT, it is wheelchair accessible (pa)
A.D.: precedes date (A.D. 44); when possible, follow secular convention: C.E. (common era); B.C.E. (before common era)
adult video store [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
aesthetic (a): aesthetic merit
-age: not –aged (toddler-age son); EXCEPT middle-aged; ALSO, “children ages five to twelve”
age specific (pa): as in, What is age specific about hip-hop?
AGREEMENT Follow these general rules:
Collective nouns (“band,” “group”): Consider if you’re talking about the group or about the members of that group. “The last group hasn’t played yet,” BUT, “The group wore masks when they were performing.”
Percentages: Consider if you’re talking about a collective group or about the members of that group. “About 10 percent of bands make it big,” BUT, “About 40 percent of the bands scheduled to play are going to.”
Here’s a handy cheat sheet, care of Travel + Leisure:
One out of five workers is…(subject is “one”)
Less than one in five is… (less than one not countable)
As many as one out of five is… (one is countable)
All but one child was present… (singular verb when noun follows “one”)
Of the thirty kids, all but one were present…; All but one of the kids were present (plural when verb follows “one” or preceding noun of prepositional phrase is plural)
About 30 percent of the population is…(when noun after percent is singular)
About 30 percent of the residents are…(Of the residents, 30 percent are)
As many as 25 percent of us are…(when countable follows as, use many)
As much as 30 percent of the population is…(when amount is object of preposition)
Fewer than 30 percent of the residents are…(more precise than less than)
Less than 30 percent of the population is…(object denotes amount)
Essentially, we just want to summarize the album: what’s notable about it, what the band did differently, why we should care that the record is being released. It needn’t be long (a few sentences will work in many cases), but it should be entertaining and informative, and it should be timeless. Even though the record “will” be released at the time you write it, avoid the future tense. It won’t make any sense years from now. If at all possible, try to write it so that it will make as much sense now as it will in our archives well after the record has hit shelves.
1. Click on “Write a Preview” to the corresponding album here: http://www.prefixmag.com/previews/
2. Skip steps 1 and 2 on the page.
3. Under “Preview Info,” change the status to “Published.”
4. Fill in the preview and then hit submit.
5. E-mail the copy to Dave and Brandon.
Alexisonfire: even though the band prefers a lowercase a
all-expense-paid (a): all-expense-paid trip
Allied (a): Allied troop strength
ALPHABETIZATION Letter by letter, not word by word
alpha male (n), BUT (a) alpha-male, as in alpha-male display
Alpine: when referring to the Alps in Europe; alpine for general use, meaning “of or relating to high mountains”
alt-country, alt-metal, alt-rock, alt-weekly
alternate/alternative: the former means “occurring in turn”; the latter means “another possibility”
American Modern (n)(a)(pa)
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead; Trail of Dead: nix the ellipsis
anthemic: be careful not to overuse
AMPERSAND Follow the band’s preference, using its logo as a guide.
Apollo 12: numerals for all Apollo missions (11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17)
après: hyphenate adjectival compounds (“après-concert coffee”)
Art Deco (n)(a)(pa)
at bats (n)
ax (n): in all instances as a stand-in for “guitar”
B&B: okay on first reference for bed-and-breakfast
back-to-back (a): back-to-back concerts; BUT, back to back (pa): they played back to back
backup (n): as in a singer and as in a logjam
bandmates (n): following the form of workmates and playmates; ALSO, tourmates and labelmates.
barbecue (n)(v)(a): eschew BBQ and barbeque unless it exists as part of a proper name
barbed wire (n)(a): barbed wire fencing [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
bar talk (n); BUT, maudlin bar-talk, to avoid a misreading
bass line(s) (n)
Bay Area (n)(a)
b-boy, b-girl (n)
B.C.: follows date (first century B.C.; 44 B.C.) when possible, follow secular convention: C.E. (common era); B.C.E. (before common era)
-beat (n): five-beat
because: no comma for an explanation (He must have gotten lost because he can’t read a map); comma for an elaboration (He must have gotten lost, because he can’t read a map).
Belle and Sebastian (n)
between/among: use “between” for physical relationships (between the club and the ball and the clubface) and for the idiom (let’s keep it between us)
bird life (n)
Bitter:Sweet: even though the Los Angeles-based guy/girl duo likes all lowercase
black-and-white (a): black-and-white photos; BUT, black and white (pa): the photo was black and white
blond (a)(n) in reference to male, but blonde (n) in reference to female [A blonde is a woman with blond hair; a blond is a male with blond hair; blond is an adjective for both.]
-bodied: hyphenate (a) compounds (fuller-bodied drink)
bon mot, bons mots
boozehound, boozehounds (n)
Bose: trademark; Bose sound system
boxed set (n)
bpm: follow NUMBER rules and use digits with abbreviations
Brahman (n)(a): Brahman culture
B-side, A-side (n)
bull market (n); BUT bull-market (a): bull-market
burned or burnt: author’s preference
Bush, the (n): in Australia
busk (v); busker(s) (n)
callus/callous: The first is a noun that refers to the hard areas on skin. The second is an adjective that means “made hard, hardened,” and it also often refers to attitudes (insensitive, indifferent, unsympathetic).
can’t-miss (a); can’t-miss (pa) [See also must-see.]
CAPITALIZATION See individual words if not covered in guide. Words in Web11 listed as cap or usu cap are capped; those labeled often cap are lowercased. In general, normalize bands, companies, or products that employ an odd capping style (Macy’s, Adidas, K.D. Lang).
· In HEADS AND DECKS: lowercase prepositions of four letters or fewer, articles (a, the), and coordinating conjunctions (for, and, not, but, or, yet). Uppercase verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (if, as), and the first and last words.
· Magazine and newspaper names: Even if “the” is part of the name, lowercase it in running text (we read in the Atlantic Monthly); italicize city name with newspapers [New York Post]
· Positions/Titles: Cap only if preceding the name (President Clinton, BUT the president of the United States is Clinton; Senior Marketing Chief Joe Blow, BUT Joe Blow, the senior marketing chief).
· The: generally, lowercase the t in the in running text, BUT capitalize the T in some instances to avoid odd-looking constructions. Lowercase the T in “the” before band names (the Beatles), but uppercase if it follows an ampersand (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings)
· EXCEPTIONS: The Skeleton and the Kings of All Cities; The Good, The Bad & The Queen
carjack (v) would carjack six vehicles
cash flow (n); BUT, cash-flow problem (a)
cash-only (a): cash-only deal; BUT, cash only (pa), bar is cash only
catch-and-release (n): everyone practices catch-and-release
C-class (n): Mercedes C-class
C cup (n): as in bra size
CD rack (n)
C-game (n): Also, A-game, B-game
-challenged: space-challenged cargo area (a); treatment of the hearing-challenged (pa); no hyphen if modifying an adverb (mentally challenged)
check (a): a check pattern (NOT a checked pattern)
chile, chiles (n)(a): for the pepper and the powder
chili, chilies: for the dish; chili con carne
choke hold (n)
civil rights (a): civil rights pioneers; civil rights era
-class: hyphenate combos (world-class)
cliché (n); BUT, clichéd (a)
climate control (n); BUT, climate-control system (a)
Clouddead: Anticon collective. This is the K.D. Lang rule; no matter how much she screams about it, we’ll follow conventional rules of American English and capitalize the first letters of first and last names and initials. Plus, maintaining our own style standards in these cases keeps us from looking like a PR firm.
· Exception: Some companies put the second letter of their monikers in uppercase, i.e. eBay, iPod. If those names start a sentence, standard rules (uppercase the first letter) apply.
co- (prefix): close up when possible (costar, codesigner, codeveloper); BUT, co-worker, co-opt
cold war (n)(a)
COLONS If material after the colon is a fragment, lowercase the first letter. (Then I realized what it was: a BDP song.) If material following colon is a sentence, capitalize the first letter. (Then I knew: He’d left us.) Like the semicolon, the colon goes on the outside of quotes (told me the “meaning of life”: Listen to hip-hop).
· No serial comma unless it’s confusing (as is the case in lists of bands).
· Use a comma to separate independent clauses joined by a conjunction (“I wanted to go see Daniel Johnston, but you wanted to see Mission of Burma.”), UNLESS they are very short (four words each) and are joined with “and.” (“I rode my bike and you walked.”)
· Do not separate compound predicates with commas: “Band of Horses came on early and played late.”
· Follow restrictive/nonrestrictive rules. A restrictive clause limits meaning (“The band that went on first was the best”). A nonrestrictive clause adds to the subject but does not necessarily restrict it (“The band, which has five members, has to take two buses.”)
· Nonrestrictive clauses can be removed from the sentence and it would still make sense. (“The band, which formed in April, went on tour in May.” “The band went on tour in May.”) These clauses must be wrapped in punctuation — often a comma on either side.
· That introduces restrictive clauses (and, thus, isn’t separated out by punctuation); which introduces nonrestrictive clauses (and is separated out by punctuation). That and which are not interchangeable.
· In series with semicolons: semicolons between all elements of list (x; y; and z)
· -ly adverbs: When they start a sentence, usually no comma after, unless confusion results. (Ordinarily I would have said no.)
· Jr./Sr.: no commas around either (Martin Luther King Jr.)
· State names: in text after city, use commas before and after (“The bar in Austin, Texas, is always fun”). Same with countries (“We went to Paris, France, before going to Spain.”)
· Introductory clause: Generally don’t need comma after a short one (three words) at the beginning of the sentence. Use after “Meanwhile” and between proper nouns.
company: spell out in the colloquial “and company” construction (A.C. Newman and company). If it’s a company name, use Co.
-compatible (pa): hyphenate combos (nightclub-compatible)
-count (n): hyphenate combos (five-count)
coup de grace (n)
crafts work (n)
cross-country (n)(a): in cross-country [track]
cross-generational (a): cross-generational symbol
crown jewel (n)(a): the crown jewel; crown jewel event
cuff links (n)
cup holder (n): BUT, cup-holder (a): cup-holder placement
currency: Colloquially, spell out (“They spent a million dollars on this”), but use the symbol and number otherwise.
custom made (pa): were custom made; BUT, custom-made (a)(v)
cyber spree (n)
-cylinder (n): hyphenate combos (a four-cylinder)
Dälek: hip-hop group from Newark, New Jersey; also the name of its MC (pronounced “dialect”)
damn (a): but can be damn or damned, per author
Dave 1: half of Montreal’s Chromeo, with Pee Thug
dead center (pa): hit it dead center
dead certain (pa): was dead certain
dead flat (pa): bass line is dead flat
death metal (n); death-metal (a)
DJ: DJ’ing, DJ’d, DJs
different from vs. different than: for direct comparisons (“different” and then a noun), “different” is followed by “from.” (“Magazines are different from newspapers.”) “Different than” is used when the object is a clause or when it is an indirect comparison (“Smith is a different man than [he was] during his tenure.” Note: if you wanted to use “from,” it would have to be rewritten as “Smith is a different man from the one he was during his tenure”).
dirt cheap (pa); BUT, dirt-cheap (a)
diss, disses (n)(v)(a)
district: generally lowercase in place names (Warehouse district in Austin, Texas)
Disturbing tha Peace
doom metal (n); doom-metal (a)
do-it-yourself (a): DIY acceptable on first reference
down-tempo, up-tempo (a)
double-duty (n): doing double-duty
double knits (n): flared double knits
down-market (adv): rush down-market
Down Under (n): as stand-in for Australia
Dr.: preferred on first reference as an honorific (not Name, M.D.)
drop box (n)
-dropping: hyphenate combos (name-dropping)
drum ’n’ bass [See also rock ’n’ roll.]
early- (a): early-morning event
Early American (a)(pa)
eff (v): go eff yourself
eight-bit (a) [See also, four-bit.]
· Three-dot ellipsis: No space between each dot, because we don’t want the computer to split them for us, but a space on either side. (Oh…that’s odd.)
· Four-dot ellipsis: Use if following a complete sentence. Close up the first period, ellipsis, then space. (A quote from an article goes here and then we cut part…. And then we picked it back up again.)
MC, MC’ing, MC’d, MCs
emerging markets (n); BUT, emerging-market (a): emerging-market investing
etc.: use sparingly
ever-: hyphenate adjectival combos (ever-threatening tides)
executive producer (n)(a)
eye opening (pa): is eye opening, BUT, eye-opening (a)
eye-worn (pa): feel eye-worn
-faced: hyphenate combos (a) or (pa)
factory-filled (v): factory-filled with bubblegum
FALSE RANGES In the “from X to Y” construction, try to make sure that X and Y are on either side of a spectrum (from hot dogs to filet mignon). This is generally a clichéd technique to d
Far East (n)
far-fetched (pa): it isn’t far-fetched
farther/further: use “farther” if referring to physical distance
fast-food (a): fast-food brands
Feds, the (n)
feet (measurements): it is ten feet long; BUT, a ten-foot-long strip
fiancé (man); fiancée (woman)
first-come, first-served (a): a first-come, first-served operation; first come, first served (n)
first rate (pa): is first rate; BUT, first-rate (a)
fists first (pa)
fist pump (n); fist-pump (a)
flier (n) for “a circular.” Flyer normally reserved for some trains and buses.
-foot-long (a): a ten-foot-long area; BUT, (pa) feet long: it is ten feet long
former: in long adjective phrases (former producer turned MC)
four-bit (a) [See also, eight-bit.]
frat house (n); frat-house (a)
-free (a)(pa): not be personality-free, pain-free
-friendly (a)(pa): computer-friendly co-worker
frost heave (n)
fuel gauge (n); BUT, fuel-gauge (a)
full-blown (pa): sprang full-blown
general admission (n)(a): general admission ticket [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
get-go (n): from the get-go
glitter ball (n); BUT, glitter-ball (a)
God-fearing (pa): all things God-fearing
The Good, the Bad & the Queen: note capital T in first “the”
good old (a): good old KRS-One
goth: the style
Grade A (a)
grille, grilles: jewelry for your teeth
grilled cheese sandwich [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
grrrl rock (n); grrrl-rock (a)
guest room (n)
Guided by Voices
Gypsies (n)(a); BUT, gypsy if not referring to the ethnic group
half: don’t hyphenate verbs (half crying); hyphenate adjectives (half-cocked attitude); don’t hyphenate predicate adjectives (he went off half cocked)
hand-eye (a): hand-eye coordination
hands down (pa): won hands down; BUT, hands-down (a)
hands-on (a): hands-on instruction; AND, (pa): teaches hands-on
· Capitalize first and last words, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and subordinating conjunctions (as, if).
· Lowercase articles, prepositions of four letters or fewer, and coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
· Cap both first letters of temporary compounds (Seventy-Fifth), but only the first letter of permanent compounds (Tune-up).
· Minimize punctuation
headbang (v); headbanger (n)
heavy metal (n); heavy-metal (a)
hi-fi (a) [See also lo-fi.]
high-tech (a): high-tech sampler
a historic: not an historic [Note: not synonymous with historical. The former means “important in history”; the latter means “of or concerning history.”]
homage: pronounced with a silent h, like “honor.” So, “an homage.”
home run (n)(a): a home run guy [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
honest-to-God (a): honest-to-God glove box
honor society (n)(a): honor society key [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
hot rod (n)(a): hot rod Mercedes; BUT, hot-rod (v)
hot tub (n); BUT, hot-tub (a): hot-tub party
house (n): the type of music
ice cold (pa)
I’da: as a stand-in for “I’d have” [use sparingly and only for effect]
if/whether: use “if” to introduce a condition. (We’ll play if it doesn’t rain.) Use “whether” to introduce a different possibility. (You didn’t say whether I should play guitar or drums.)
-inch (n)(a): 7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch
indie rock (n); indie-rock (a); AND indie-rockers (n)
Industrial Revolution (the); BUT, the country’s industrial revolution
industrial-waste (a): industrial-waste dump
industry mates (n)
INITIALS IN NAMES No space between the initials (G.G. Allin) [See also ABBREVIATIONS.]
in season (pa); BUT in-season (a)
inside out (pa): it was inside out; from the inside out; BUT, inside-out (a): inside-out song
in-studio (pa): is in-studio every day
interactive media (n)(a): interactive media department [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
iPod, BUT, uppercase the “I” if the word starts a sentence; try to write around
it’s/its: the former means “it is”; the latter is the pronoun
· Use for titles of plays, movies, TV shows, album titles (put song titles in quotes) and books.
· Use for foreign words not in Web11. Foreign proper words are in roman.
· Television shows: Italicize continued series (so Sesame Street, Hill Street Blues and Survivor) and put quotes around the specific title of the program (Friends, “The One Where They Live Lavishly”).
· With onomatopoeic sounds: The fish went blip in the water.
· Punctuation of: Italicize all internal punctuation in an italicized phrase (Hip-Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason, by Derrick Darby and Tommie Shelby)
· Don’t italicize the names of other publications: Rolling Stone magazine (New York Times style)
-ization (n): hyphenate if not in dictionary otherwise
Jack & Coke(s)
J Dilla or Jay Dee
Jet Ski (trademark)
Jr.: no commas around Jr. or Sr.
JR Writer: no periods
jury-rigged: this is the more literate form of “jerry-rigged,” which is a perversion of “jury-rigged” and “jerry-built” (a word that implies something of more permanence). Use “jury-rigged,” not “jerry-rigged.”
just: hyphenate adjectival combos (a just-discontinued Toyota); open predicate adjective combos (she is just awake)
K.D. Lang: Generally, follow conventional rules of American English and capitalize the first letters of first and last names and initials. Maintaining our own style standards in these cases keeps us from looking like a PR firm.
· Exception: Some companies put the second letter of their monikers in uppercase, i.e. eBay, iPod. If those names start a sentence, standard rules (uppercase the first letter) apply.
-keeping: close combos (scorekeeping)
knee socks (n)
Kool G Rap
L.A.: use periods to distinguish from Louisiana postal abbreviation; in most cases, use Los Angeles on first reference
labelmates [See also bandmates, tourmates.]
lap steel: no hyphen, unless it’s an adjective [See also pedal steel.]
last album: to be used only if it was, in fact, the band’s last (as in final) album. If not, go with “previous” or “most recent,” or better yet, tell us the number (debut, sophomore).
Las Vegas Strip (n)
late great (a): late great guitar player; avoid overuse
late twentieth century (n); BUT, late-twentieth-century (a)
lawn chair (n)
lent/loaned: Generally, lend is a verb, loan is a noun.
liberal arts (n)(a)
-like: for compounds, generally closed except for words ending in l or ll (wall-like), words of three or more syllables (guitarlike, but formula-like), hyphenated and open compound words (tree-lined-like), proper nouns (Hendrix-like), or other forms difficult to read.
Lil Wayne: no apostrophe
limp dick (n); limp-dick (a)
-lined: hyphenate combos (tree-lined)
lineup (n): a band’s lineup; line up (v): line up over there
living room (n)(a) [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
lo-fi: BUT, low fidelity and high fidelity [See also hi-fi.]
logoed (a): logoed amps
-long: hyphenate combos not in dictionary (decades-long)
-looking: hyphenate combos (a)(pa) (good-looking)
lover (n): jazz lover
lover boy (n), lover-boy (a)
low-: hyphenate if not in dictionary in any position (low-slung, low-roller, low-riding)
lust: hyphenate adjectival combos (guitar-lust problem, BUT piano lust)
Magnolia Electric Co.
mah-jongg; BUT, the band is Mahjongg
mail-order (a): mail-order business
major league (n): in the major leagues; BUT, major-league (a), major-league baseball
-maker: generally, no hyphen in compound if noun (he’s a music maker); hyphenate adjectives. [See also –making.] Note: beatmaker and beatmaking don’t take hyphen.
-making: usually no hyphen in compound if noun (music making) unless misreading results; hyphenate in adjective form (a music-making procedure).
mano a mano (adv)
many hued (pa): is many hued; BUT, many-hued (a): a many-hued green
market share (n)
mass transit (n); BUT, mass-transit (a): mass-transit system
MAXIMS, PROVERBS and FAMILIAR SAYINGS If full sentence, capitalize first letter and wrap in quotes (When they say “Music is life,” this is what they mean.) [See list of COMMON PHRASES.]
· Hyphenate adjectival forms and spell out unit (-liter, -millimeter) in running text.
Me Decade (n)(a)
Artist: “Song Title” (Type)
me-me-me (a): me-me-me conversation
Michigan peninsula; BUT, Upper Peninsula/Lower Peninsula (when it’s obvious you’re speaking of Michigan)
microcable: no hyphen necessary
microfibers: no hyphen necessary
mid + decade or century or month: in our mid-40s, in the mid-’60s, mid-September
mic or microphone, BUT miked up (v)
mild mannered (pa): he was mild mannered; BUT, mild-mannered (a): mild-mannered man
minded: open combos (history minded, outdoors minded)
mind over matter (n); BUT, (a) mind-over-matter (mind-over-matter gang)
minor league (n): in the minor leagues; BUT, minor-league (a), minor-league hockey [Web11]
modern art (n); BUT, modern-art (a)
money chase (n)
Monterey Peninsula (n)
MOR: middle of the road, taken from the radio format
motor scooter (n)
mouth filling (pa)
movie star (n); BUT, movie-star (a): movie-star looks
mowed or mown (v)
Mowhawk: Native American tribe and hair style
much-needed (a): hyphenate if misread may occur without.
Murder Inc.; BUT, Murder, Inc. if referring to the crime syndicate from the 1930s
muscle memory (n): proper muscle memory
must-play (n): a must-play; BUT, (a) must-play
must-see (n); BUT, (a) must-see
mutual fund (n)(a): the mutual fund king [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
MySpace: followed by “page” if referring to the site (“the artist’s MySpace page.”)
Naugahyde: trademark; artificial material made to look like leather
near-monotone (a): near-monotone passage
Net, the: short for the Internet
new: we don’t do “new” when describing the record (or song or video, etc.) we’re writing about, because ideally people use our archives, and if we started saying “new,” all the reviews would say that. Give us better information: debut, sophomore, first for Label X, so forth.
new age (pa)(n); BUT, new-age (a)
New American cuisine: capitalize if referring to the type of cuisine that developed in the 1980s in California.
new jack swing: sometimes called “swing beat”; Teddy Riley (member of Guy, Blackstreet) is regarded as the king of new jack swing; mid-1980s and ’90s genre that blended old-school hip-hop with commercial R&B
New Urbanism: uppercase if referring to the movement
new wave (pa)(n); BUT, new-wave (a), BUT, French New Wave
New York City: spell out unless you mean for the reader to say the actual letters
NICKNAMES Put in quotes if in the middle of full, proper name
Nike: trademark, but don’t use all caps even though the company usually does
nirvana (n); BUT, Nirvana if referring to the band
Northern Soul: heavy-beat soul music, African in descent, popularized in northern England; title of the Verve’s second album
now-classic (a): now-classic record
’N Sync, ’N Sync-er: former ’N Sync-er
NUMBERS In general, follow AP Style Guide.
· Spell out whole numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above.
· Use numerals for adjective combos with currency ($50,000 project)
· Figures greater than 999 use commas (71,000)
· Ages always take numerals.
· Beats: 4/4, etc.
· Centuries: follow general rule (fourth century, 17th-century layout). Also, from the 1900s (no apostrophe).
· Decades: the ’50s, mid-’50s, the 1980s (watch direction of apostrophe; no apostrophe before s)
· Temperature: 23 degrees Fahrenheit (favor Fahrenheit, if possible)
· Years: use numerals (’71, 1981)
· Other examples:
7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch
Terminal One, Gate B7
310 horsepower; BUT, the power of three hundred horses
size 6 to 16
widths A to 4E
40 mph (numerals before all abbreviations)
50 percent (numerals for all percentages)
Top 10 (if referring to a specific list; otherwise, top ten)
oak, oaks: preferred plural form
oceanside: close up per oceanfront, cliffside, bayside, curbside
off-island (a)(pa): off-island excursion; can be found off-island
off-season (n)(a): the off-season
-offs: hyphenate combos (drum-offs)
OK, OK’d, OK’ing, OKs
old money (n); BUT, old-money (a)
old school (pa): he’s old school; BUT, old-school (a) [follow for new school]
old world (n); BUT, old-world (a)
on board (pa)
once-: hyphenate (a) combos (once-great)
one-eyed (pa)(a): you’d be one-eyed
online (a)(pa)(adv): for Web references
online dating service (n) [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
-only: hyphenate combos (invitation-only)
OPEN COMPOUNDS These adjectives that don’t need a hyphen. Rule of thumb: Use a hyphen if it could be misread without one.
· adult video: adult video store
· air traffic: air traffic controllers
· crown jewel: the crown jewel event
· classical music: classical music festivals
· commercial airline: commercial airline pilot
· customer assistance: customer assistance center
· general admission: general admission ticket
· high school: high school student
· honor society: honor society key
· interactive media: interactive media department
· living room, family room: living room floor
· mutual fund: the mutual fund king
· online dating: online dating service
· pension fund: pension fund managers
· political correctness: political correctness mumbo-jumbo
· property tax: property tax revenue
· real estate: real estate courses, real estate programs
· saddle shoe: saddle shoe look
· sports medicine: sports medicine facility
· stainless steel: stainless steel body
-oriented: hyphenate combos (the service-oriented resort)
ounces: spell out [See also ABBREVIATIONS.]
out-: hyphenate combos (v): out-player
outback: for the outback of Australia
own sweet pace
-packs (n): hyphenate combos (fifteen-packs)
pant leg (n)
peanut butter (n)
pedal steel: no hyphen, unless it’s an adjective [See also lap steel.]
Pee Thug: half of Montreal’s Chromeo, with Dave 1
pension fund (n)(a): pension fund managers [See list of OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
percent: use numbers and spell out “percent” in all instances, and don’t use the symbol (%)
Peter, Bjorn and John
physical fitness (n); BUT, physical-fitness (a): physical-fitness industry
pie chart (n); BUT, pie-chart (v)
pinkie (n): for the finger
piston-pump (n) [Sullivan, S/O98]
plain-Jane (a)(pa): plain-Jane woman; seems plain-Jane
plain old: plain old good luck
playlist (n); BUT, track list, set list
-plus: hyphenate combos (fifty-plus)
Portugal. The Man
POSSESSIVES For plurals and proper nouns ending in s, add only the apostrophe (the guitars’ fret boards; Malkmus’ ideas)
· If joint ownership, latter name takes ’s (John and Yoko’s couch, because they own it together); if not, both names get ’s (John’s and Yoko’s fans)
-pounder: hyphenate noun combos (hundred-pounders)
powers that be (n)
premed (n)(a): degrees in premed; premed degree
preventive: NOT preventative
prog rock (n), BUT, prog-rock (a)
-prone: hyphenate (n) combos (the accident-prone)
-proofed: hyphenate combos (was Slash–proofed)
public access (n); BUT, public-access (a)
quasi-: always hyphenate (a) compounds (quasi-military state)
-quick: hyphenate (a)(pa) combos (lightning-quick speed)
?uestlove: drummer for the Philadelphia-based Roots (New York Times style)
· Use with words as words (the term “guitar hero,” the word “slump”)
· Use with syllable as syllable (the word “Geronimo,” coming down on the “ron”
· Use with definitions (meaning “small and compact”)
· Use with nicknames if full name is mentioned (George Herman “Babe” Ruth)
· Use with pronunciation guides (Read Yellow, pronounced “red yellow”)
· Translations: to the sociedad, or “club.”
R&B (n)(a): okay on first reference; OR, rhythm ’n’ blues
R&D (n)(a): for research and development; okay on first reference
racecar driver (n)
-racking: hyphenate combos (nerve-racking, constitution-racking); racked (he was racked with guilt)
radial tire (n)(a): radial tire era [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
rain suit (n)
raison d’etre (n)
rave-up (n): a stomping punk rave-up
-ready: hyphenate combos (fairway-ready, competition-ready)
real estate (n)(a) [See list of acceptable OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
re-creation: the creation of something again; recreation: done for enjoyment
-related: hyphenate (a) compounds (gang-related violence); BUT, related (pa): is gang related
-resistant: hyphenate (a)(pa) combos (water-resistant clothing; they’re water- and sweat-resistant)
retro-: hyphenate combos
Revolution/revolution: the Cuban Revolution; there was a revolution in styles
rhythm ’n’ blues
rib eye (n); rib-eye (a)
rock ’n’ roll (n); rock ’n’ roller (n)(a)
round trip (n); BUT, round-trip (a)
saddle shoe (n)(a): saddle shoe look [See list of OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
scotch, scotch whisky [whisky from Scotland and Canada has no “e”; the rest does]
Second World War; World War II: author’s choice
self-: hyphenate combos (self-adjusts)
Sept. 11, pre-Sept. 11, OR, 9/11
7-inch (n)(a): 10-inch, 12-inch
-shaped: amoeba-shaped guitar
shop fronts (n)
shoreside (n)(a) [See also –side.]
short sleeves (n); BUT, short-sleeve (a)
sick leave (n): on sick leave
side: geographic; rules apply to well-known designations only (Chicago’s south side, but the South Side; New York City’s east side, but the Lower East Side)
-side: close combos (stageside, cliffside, treeside, courseside, curbside, oceanside)
single malts (n); BUT, single-malt (a): single-malt scotch
single spaced (pa): I received letters, single spaced
-size: banquet-size room
ski resort (n); BUT, ski-resort (a)
Slanted and Enchanted: per the cover of Pavement’s classic
smart money (n); BUT, smart-money (a)
snow-capped (a); BUT, snowcap (n)
-sober: hyphenate combos (judge-sober, lawyer-sober)
-something: close combos (twentysomething, thirtysomething)
sound bite (n)
SOURCING ARTICLES In blog posts based on another publication’s work, you must source that publication and link directly to the post. Mention the publication in your post (“In an article in the XYZ Times,…” and the author’s name if prominent enough), and at the end of the post, put the publication name in brackets and hyperlink directly to the sourced article: [XYZ Times].
Southern California (n)
space-age (a)(pa): be space-age
space expansion (n)
-speak: hyphenate combos (techno-speak, retiree-speak)
sporting goods (n)(a)
spring break (n); BUT, spring-break (a)
spring training (n); BUT, spring-training (a)
St.: abbreviate in city names; for band names, follow their preference
starry-eyed (a)(pa): starry-eyed girl; is starry-eyed
STATE NAMES Spell out state names when they stand alone. After a city, use abbreviations listed in AP Style Guide: Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah do not have abbreviations.
EXCEPTION: For TOUR DATES, use two-letter postal abbreviations. [See also ABBREVIATIONS.]
STATES WITH CITIES Use (most of) the AP list of cities that don’t need states on first reference [see below]. Otherwise spell out state on first reference and put comma on either side (Brooklyn, New York, is a seedbed for bands)
· The following cities do not need to be modified by a state on first reference: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Long Island, Los Angeles, Louisville (in whiskey column only), Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Seattle, Scottsdale.
States, the: as in, released in the States.
stateside: note lowercase s
still-: hyphenate (a) combos
still life(s) (n); BUT, still-life (a): still-life photography
stock market (n)(a): the stock market crash [See list of OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
St. Patrick’s Day
string pulling (n)
strong-arm (a): strong-arm type
-style: hyphenate combos (marquee-style)
Sugar & Gold: San Francisco-based electro-soul band
supergroup: do NOT overuse; it is often an empty descriptor and can usually be omitted without any loss
superproducer: try to avoid
swing beat: more often referred to as new jack swing [See new jack swing.]
swing time (n); swing-time (a)
Tantric (a): a Tantric tango
tape cassette player (n) [See list of OPEN COMPOUNDS.]
T-bone steak (n)
television or TV
TELEVISION PROGRAMS If a continuing series, italicize (PBS’s Sesame Street); if not, or if title of an episode, set in roman and quotes (the following episode of Hill Street Blues, “Death on the Hill.”)
Temporary Residence Ltd.
thank-you (n)(a): he said thank-you; thank-you note
that/which: that introduces a restrictive clause (one that is crucial to identifying what’s being modified); which introduces a nonrestrictive clause (one that’s not crucial to the understanding of the noun being modified). [See COMMAS.]
then-: hyphenate (a) combos (then-accepted Scottish fashion)
the: Generally, lowercase before band names unless doing so may result in confusion or a misread; uppercase if first word of a title.
theremin: lowercase, unless talking about its creator, Leon Theremin (New York Times)
-think: hyphenate combos (company-think)
THOUGHTS/INTERNAL SPEECH Choose italics or quotes based on context; be consistent within article.
· According to Chicago Manual of Style, thought, imagined dialogue and other interior discourse is often but not always enclosed in quotation marks. I should have said, “Not with me, you won’t!” I bet she’s saying to him right now, “Morgenstern thinks he’s too good for us.” Barnacle heard a loud crash and told himself, “Viola’s drunk again!” “I should have said, ‘What business of it is yours!’ ” thought Tom.
· No quotes if internal speech is paraphrase of idea:
· and then claim it was the kid’s idea
· did not say don’t do it
· he said no / she gave us a yes
· I always express to anyone operating it, this machine is a loaded gun
· BUT, author may choose to simply cap first letter (She told herself, I could die!) or put in italics (Edgar looked at her and thought, Now what have I done?)
throw-down (a): a throw-down record
-tiered: hyphenate combos (double-tiered system)
-timers: hyphenate (n) combos: first-timers
Tin Pan Alley
TITLES Generally, cap only if preceding the name (President Clinton, BUT the president of the United States is Clinton; Senior Marketing Chief Joe Blow, BUT Joe Blow, the senior marketing chief).
“to do” (a): “to do” list
-top: close combos (clifftop, mountaintop)
top ten (n); BUT, top-ten (a); if referring to a specific list, can use Top 10
· Use this format: XX.XX City, State: Venue. So, 01.12 New York, NY: Knitting Factory
· If the band is playing with another band worth mentioning, use an asterisk after the venue, and define the asterisk (*) at the bottom of the list. If two bands need to be mentioned, use two asterisks (**). Other symbols are fine, but choose ones that aren’t confusing (don’t use an !, for example).
· For states, use two-letter postal abbreviation: AL, NJ, NY, etc.
tourmates [See also bandmates, labelmates.]
tree huggers (n)
T.T. the Bear’s: venue in Cambridge, Massachusetts; T.T.’s on second reference only
TV or television
Type A (a)(pa): Type A behavior
uber-: hyphenate combos (über-agency)
U.K. (a)(n): try to spell out United Kingdom in text as a noun
ultrarich [per Chicago]
under way (pa): an elaborate set of negotiations under way
unique: The word means “one of a kind,” so something’s either unique or it’s not. It cannot be “the most unique” or “entirely unique” or “more unique” than something else. That’s why it’s a good idea to think twice before using the word (is this band’s sound truly one of a kind?).
United States: try to spell out in text as a noun; more acceptable to use U.S. as an adjective
up-tempo (a) [See also down-tempo.]
upward: can run upward of
U.S. (n)(a): try to spell out United States in text as a noun
UV (a): UV rays
versus: spell out unless display copy or a court case
vocoder: not a trademark
Web site (n)(a); the Web
well: usually don’t hyphenate (pa) combos (the band is well rounded); usually don’t hyphenate (n) combos, but some exceptions (the well-heeled); hyphenate (a) combos (a well-known person).
· RULE: Hyphenate if you can’t remove “well” (you can’t say the heeled club).
well-off (n)(a)(pa): the well-off; a well-off man; is well-off
west: capitalize for regions (the Western world, the West); lowercase for directions (I live west of Denver); Wild West; West Coast, Middle West, Midwest, Pacific Northwest (U.S.); westernize
which/that: which introduces a nonrestrictive clause (one that’s not crucial to the understanding of the noun being modified); that introduces a restrictive clause (one that is crucial to identifying what’s being modified). [See COMMAS.]
while: avoid as a synonym for “although” (usually to start a clause) unless you want to imply some sort of simultaneity
white label(s) (n); white-label (a)
whiskey/whisky: whisky for references to the spirit coming from Scotland and Canada, whiskey for everything else
whistlegate: refers to Peter, Bjorn and John’s live performance. Use sparingly, as with all “-gate” constructions.
whole wide world
whoopee cushion (n)
wing tip (n); BUT, wingtip (a)
-wise: hyphenate combos not in dictionary (confidence-wise, determination-wise)
workout (n)(a): the workout; BUT, work out (v): going to work out at the gym
World Cup: okay to capitalize plural (several World Cups)
World War II: or Second World War (author’s preference)
Xerox: a trademark; use photocopy instead
years: use numerals, even for decades (’60s, ’70s, ’80s)
year-round (a); BUT, all year round (adv)
yes men; yes man
zeros (n); zeroes (v)