Picture of a dateline. Image being use for a Newswire blog titled, "How to Format a Press Release Dateline With AP Style."

How to Format a Press Release Dateline With AP Style

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What is AP Style? For anyone unfamiliar, AP Style stands for Associated Press Style and refers to the standardization of content that allows media around the world to have consistent and uniform structure for news writing, grammar, abbreviations and titles.

AP style is the gold standard with which all news writing is measured. And, just as the format of a press release is important, so too is the content.

In fact, according to a USC Annenberg study, 88% of public relations professionals and 80% of marketers believe digital storytelling is the future of communications. 

As the focus on crafting compelling press releases intensifies, business professionals need to hone their skills and leverage AP Style to their advantage. 

Psst… If your content is written in AP Style, there’s a better chance the media will gravitate to your story. That’s because adhering to the wording and format they’re most familiar with will demonstrate your professionalism and understanding of the information they need to develop stories of their own. 

Now, you landed on this blog because you want to know more about how to format a press release dateline with AP Style. 

And, that’s exactly what we’re going to help you with. 

The dateline is the section of a news story or press release that indicates where and when the news being reported took place.

A proper dateline is important because it’s the first thing a reader and any journalist considering picking up your story will see. They want real, current news, and not something weeks out of date.

AP Style Rules

There are several important rules to follow. According to the AP Stylebook, a proper dateline should contain “a city name, entirely in capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, county, or territory where the city is located.”

Some large metropolitan areas do not require the state. These include:

  • ATLANTA
  • BOSTON
  • CHICAGO
  • SAN FRANCISCO
  • SAN DIEGO
  • WASHINGTON

If they do require a state, it’s important to use the correct AP style state abbreviation:

  • KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Missouri)
  • PORTLAND, Ore. (Oregon)
  • PORTLAND, Maine

The AP Style abbreviations are not the same as postal ones and are not always consistent. 

Here is a quick list you can refer to. 

Important abbreviations to remember include:

  • Calif. (usually CA)
  • Colo. (CO)
  • Conn. (CT)
  • Fla. (FL)

Despite having a US Postal Service abbreviation, there are eight state names that are never abbreviated in AP Style, even if they’re accompanied by a city name.

They are:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Utah

AP Style Dates

The dates should always use Arabic numerals, without the st, nd, rd or th. (Ex: 2, 3, 25, not 2nd, 3rd, 25th).

The names of months should always be capitalized and spelled out when being used alone, or with the year alone. For example, January and January 2022.

When a month is used with a specific date, use only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. should be abbreviated, for example, Jan. 31.

When a phrase lists only a month and year, they don’t need to be separated by commas.  However, when you list a month, date, and year. The year should be separated by a comma.

  • Jan. 31, 2022 (BOSTON)
  • Jan. 7, 2022– BOSTON
  • Jan. 7, BOSTON

Because content tends to stay visible on the Internet long after it’s published, it’s best to include the year so there is no possible confusion about when the press release or news story was published.

If you’d like to learn more about AP Style and how to properly apply it when drafting a press release, contact us today to speak with one of our PR Strategists.

This article was updated in March 2022.

Maria Marchewka is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Newswire. Maria is an experienced copywriter, social media marketer, content creator, strategist, and project manager. Her firm belief in being a practitioner and not a preacher of marketing concepts has put her in a position to help companies build brand awareness and connect with their target audiences online.

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