ALA News Guidelines
- ALA News
- Suggestions for Composing Press Releases
- Associated Press Style
- Additional Resources
The deadline for submitting press releases will be each Monday at noon. With the exception of breaking news, releases that arrive later than Monday at noon will be published on the ALA website on Wednesday afternoon at the earliest.
ALA News is sent to a list of approximately 800 subscribers each Tuesday afternoon. The newsbatch includes press releases from ALA and its divisions.
Some weeks, if there is a large volume of press releases, there will be a second ALA News batch released on Thursday at 2 p.m. In this event, an e-mail announcement would be made on Tuesday following the first batch, with the deadline for corrections on Wednesday.
Press releases are entered into the Drupal content management system by the author, reviewed by PIO and returned to the author for further review and final approval prior to publishing. For more information on entering press releases in Drupal, go to http://itts.training.ala.org/pionewsre.
- Keep releases short.
- Use concise language and short sentences.
- Keep boilerplate language to a minimum.
- Link to online documents to avoid bogging down releases in large chunks of text.
Releases should be written in Associated Press style (http://facultystaff.unlv.edu/editorialGuide.html). Associated Press style, simply put, refers to guidelines followed by newspapers and magazines in the United States. The guidelines can be found in The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, otherwise known as the AP Stylebook.
Quick AP style hints
In newspaper stories, you might notice that a comma seems to be missing in sentences like, “The three main candidates are Obama, Clinton and Edwards.” That is because, according to the stylebook, one should not “put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.”
In April 2010 Associated Press changed "Web site" to "website": a location on the World Wide Web that maintains one or more pages at a specific address. Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.
- Some months in the year, when accompanied by dates, are abbreviated. Others aren’t. Here are the abbreviated months, according to AP: Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. As for months unaccompanied by dates, all of them are spelled out when standing alone or when used with a year. In the latter case, one does not separate the month and the year with a comma: January 1972. But commas do separate the month and the day from the year: Feb. 14, 1987.
The names of states don’t appear the way you would see them on an envelope. Here are the 50 states, according to the Associated Press: Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Ky., La., Md., Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N. C., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.D., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W. Va., Wis., Wyo.
- In referring to cities, many of them don’t need their states mentioned along with them. Cities that stand alone are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C..
Often, press releases will refer to an upcoming event. When reminding readers about when to show up, use the following order: time, date, place. “The lecture is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at David Kinley Hall.”
- When encountering formal titles (Chairman, President, etc.), capitalize them immediately before a name but lowercase them when used alone or when they are set off by commas: Village President Irvana Wilks, but Irvana Wilks, president of the village.
- As for titles of books, films and plays, the AP rules are as follows. Capitalize principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters; articles (a, an, the); or words of fewer than four letters if the article is the first or last word in a title. Titles should be bracketed by quotation marks (“The Wizard of Oz,” “Of Human Bondage” and “The Sun Also Rises”). Exceptions include the Bible and such reference books as almanacs, dictionaries and encyclopedias.
The Library has a copy of the The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, PN4783 .A83 2000 (non-circulating).
A word about headlines
There is no hard and fast rule about them, save that they should be short and provide a basic roadmap to the story, without necessarily telling the whole story. Examples: “Apply to host Harry Potter’s World”; “ALTAFF to host Quiz-Show Fundraiser.” Capitalization of headlines should be lowercase unless the word begins the sentence or is a proper name, official title or publication title.