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STYLE BOOK This stylebook contains house style guidelines specific to the Chronicle as well as commonly referenced AP Stylebook entries. Always use Chronicle Style at the Chronicle. When in doubt, always look it up or ask Copy or MGMT.

Edited by


Alexandra Yetter, Editor-in-Chief Margaret Smith, former Copy Chief Blaise Mesa, former Co-Editor-in-Chief Micha Thurston, former Digital/Brand Manager

Travis Truitt, General Manager Curtis Lawrence, Faculty Advisor

Š 2020 The Columbia Chronicle

TABLE OF CONTENTS 04 07 08 09 10 11


AP Style Guide reference AP Style Guide punctuation reference

Tips for better writing

Fact-checking Source lists

Recordings Timestamping

Interviewing Reporter checklist


academic degrees Spell out bachelor’s degree,

Exceptions are made for high ranking officials, i.e., Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David.

master’s degree, etc. Avoid abbreviations such as B.A. and M.A. For majors, see majors.

African American

See races and ethnicities

aldermanic references

Include ward in parentheses and abbreviate. Use gendernuetral terms such as alderperson. ex: Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward).

Alumnus, alumni, etc.

as off press time

alumunus: singluar, male alumni: plural alumna: singular, female alumnae: plural, female use when information can change after publication.

In most cases, the title should be separated by commas and follow the name. ex: Cynthia Grunden, assistant vice president for Student Financial Services, said …

bands/teams/ clubs

When referring to bands, sports teams or clubs, use “they/ their.” Use “it/its” when referring to corporations.

Board of Trustees

Always capitalize

campus buildings

For full addresses and a list of campus buildings, see Columbia’s website.

ex: Lukidis did not comment, as of press time. “Story developments to come” and “was not immediately avaliable for comment” are not interchangeable.

as reported by attribution

as reported [DATE] by the Chronicle.

ex: The Chronicle is located in the 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive building.


Should be a summation of the photo as opposed to a description of exactly what is going on in the picture.

Long titles should be offset by commas following the name.

ex: Photography Professor Dawoud Bey spoke about the connections between his work and the photojournalistic work of the Civil Rights Movement April 10 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan Ave…

ex: according to Lambrini Lukidis, assistant vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations.

instead of: Photography Professor Dawoud Bey stands next to a portrait of a boy sitting in a chair …

In general if a title is more than three words, it should go after the name.

When more than one person is identified, they should be listed in order.

Use “said” when attributing to a live source. Use “according to” when attributing to an article, report or citation.


ex: (from left) Alexandra Yetter, Micha Thurston and Margaret Smith. When crediting photographers, use: MIKE RUNDLE/CHRONICLE; Curtis Jackson/AP; Courtesy Broken Nose Theater


Spell out “Columbia’s part-time faculty union” on first reference, but use ”CFAC” for later references.

City Council

Don’t use “city of Chicago.” Use “city” or “Chicago.” City should be lowercase.

Chicago neighborhoods

Capitalize neighborhoods and directions. See directions in AP Style Book for more. ex: North Side or Austin


ex: According to a Tuesday, Jan. 7 press release ...


Faculty Senate

faculty titles

ex: She registered for “Online Journalism,” but she took an economics class. For a list of Columbia’s official club titles, see Columbia’s website.

colleges and schools

Spell name of college or school on first reference, except for Columbia.

Use “the Chronicle” when referencing ourselves in a story.

Always check faculty/staff titles in the Columbia directory.

Be aware that teaching track faculty may hold titles of assistant professor of instruction, associate professor of instruction, or professor of instruction. If not sure of a title, be sure to ask and also cross check with the college directory.


ex: “Loyola University of Chicago” and “Columbia.”

The Chronicle

The governing group of full-time faculty members responsible for making decisions and proposals. Always capitalize.

Professor Associate Professor: Tenured Assistant Professor: A professor who is on the tenure track Adjunct faculty member: Part-time

Capitalize only the official names of classes.


Capitalize department names and majors when followed by the word “department.” Never capitalize majors. See departments and majors on website, then check on Oasis with copy. ex: Margaret Smith, senior creative writing major. Margaret Smith went to the English and Creative Writing Department.

Capitalize and put “the” beforehand. 121 N. LaSalle St.


Use day of week AND date in all iterations.


Make titles gender neutral. ex: Terms spokesperson instead of spokesman. Never use “illegal immigrant” or “alien,” use “undocumented immigrant” instead.



live stream (n. and v.) livestream (adj.) off the record/ declined to comment

one of the EICs.

Always use “LGBTQ+.” Avoid terms such as “homosexual” and “trans,” etc. Use “nonbinary” and “gendernonconforming.” ALWAYS ASK SOURCES FOR PRONOUNS.

You must have the permission of one of the EICs before using off the record material in your story.

over/more than

You should assume that all conversations are on the record after you have identified yourself as a reporter. If you choose to have an off- therecord or background conversation, make sure you and your source are on the same page and that you have discussed in specificity the terms of your conversation. There are many definitions of off the record and related terms. Following is one set of definitions from The Missouri Group publishers.

ex: The plane flew over the city. Their salaries went up more than $20 a week.

photo attributions

race & ethnicity

Off the record: You may not use the information. Not for attribution: You may use the information but with no reference as to its source. Background: You may use it with a general title for a source (for example, “a White House aide said”) Deep background: You may use the information, but you may not indicate any source. Refused/Declined to comment: When using such terms, be specific about exactly what the source is refusing to discuss. (In such cases you must share the identity of the source with one of the EICs.) Anonymous sources: Allowed only in special circumstances and must have the approval of

Over generally refers to spatial relationships or to designate physical location. More than is preferred with numerals.


MIKE RUNDLE/CHRONICLE Courtesy BLAISE MESA Steven Nunez/AP Capitalize all races and ethnicities, such as “Hispanic” or “Latinx.” Use “African American” if they are from Africa, otherwise use “Black” capitaized. Anything paired with “American” should not be hyphenated. Always spell “theatre” (note: RE), unless “theater” is part of an official title.


AP Stylebook Guide While it’s important to know the entire stylebook section, here is a shorter list of the sections you’ll most frequently use. Happy reading! abbreviations and acronyms addresses affect vs. effect allege ages a.m., p.m. anonymous sources brand names – Our advice: Avoid them, but if you use them, see this entry. capitalization cents children citizen, resident, subject, national, native city council, city hall collective nouns company, companies composition titles Congress, congressional, congressional districts corporation county courtesy titles datelines, dateline selection (pp. 66-68) dates days of the week dimensions directions and regions disabled, handicapped, impaired dollars elderly essential clauses and phrases, nonessential clauses and phrases farther, further federal fewer, less governmental bodies governor House of Representatives jargon legislative titles lieutenant governor military titles months names nationalities and races nicknames numerals on organizations and institutions over versus more than party affiliation

percent p.m., a.m. polls and surveys quotations race (Be sure to consult the 2019 version of the AP Stylebook for its expanded race entry.) second reference Senate state, state names statehouse street that, which time element, time of day, times (Note that we use days of the week for days within a seven-day range.) titles tomorrow verbs who, whom women years

Guide to Punctuation comma quotation marks

Tips for better writing: “It’s almost always best practice to use SAID, as opposed to claimed, mentioned or stated,” said Curtis Lawrence, an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago. It’s almost always best to place said after the noun when providing attribution. Ex: “He doesn’t have any friends,” Rinker said. An exception would be if you are providing identification or additional information. Ex: “What Tom does is just absolutely amazing,” said Rinker, who is also a runner. The period and the comma go inside of the quotation marks. The dash, the semicolon, the colon, the question mark and the exclamation mark go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence. Be sure to read the time element entry in your AP Stylebook. When we’re covering a daily story, remember to use the day of the week and not the date. Also, use the day of the week (not the date) for days of the week within seven days before or after the current date. Be sure that you’re using the correct pronoun. This is one of the most common errors, even for working journalists. Correct: The American Civil Liberties Union voiced its opinion. Incorrect: The American Civil Liberties Union voiced their opinion. And speaking of “its” make sure you make the distinction between “its” and “it’s” when proofreading your work. Remember to be very careful with numbers. Numbers from one to nine are spelled out. Use numerals for 10 and above, unless the number is at the beginning of the sentence. Of course, your AP Stylebook has a couple of exceptions. See the age and dollars entries, for example. It’s almost always best to list a person’s name first followed by their identification. Ex: Benjamin Singer, campaign director for Common Cause, said he thinks the Udall Amendment will easily pass in the Senate. (Note that Singer’s title is not capitalized.) When using quotations, It’s almost always best to lead with the quote followed by attribution. Best practice: “This is, what they say in my profession, a teaching moment,” Salaita, 38, said. This is preferred over: Salaita, 38, said: “This is, what they say in my profession, a teaching moment. Remember to follow AP style when writing about legislators. See the legislative titles entry in your stylebook. Correct for first reference: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is the group’s major target in its effort to pass the proposed amendment in the U.S. Senate. Note that on second reference, the senator would be referred to simply as Duckworth.

(Important note: for Chicago aldermen, we do not use AP style. Use gender-neutral terms such as alderperson. And when referring to a specific alderperson by name, use the abbreviation Ald. Ex: Ald. Sophia King (4th) decried “bad officers and the system that protects them.” When citing addresses remember to consult the addresses entry in your AP stylebook. Following are a few examples: Correct: Our class meets at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive. Incorrect: Our class meets at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Dr. Correct: Lawrence was raised in Roseland on the 9500 block of South Calumet Avenue. Incorrect: Lawrence’s family lived in a bungalow at 9528 S. Calumet Avenue. When using a multi-sentence quote, note that the attribution comes at the end of the first full sentence in the quote. Ex: “I was trying to find my way, and I really needed someone to help pull me out of my shell,” Linn said. “The mentorship is not just academics. I do look at her as family now.” Acronyms should not be used in parenthesis on first reference. In fact, unless the acronym is widely known, i.e., CIA, FBI, or locally, CTA, avoid using it. We do not use the Oxford comma under AP style. Ex: The man said he exclusively loves his mother, the Beatles and the Chicago Cubs. (Note that there is no comma before the last entry in the series.) Know the difference between farther and further. Farther refers to physical distance. Ex: He walked farther than ever before. Further refers to an extension of time or degree. Ex: “I don’t want to discuss it any further.” “S” or no “S” — The proper AP Style use is toward, backward, upward, forward, downward, etc. without an “s.” THAT, WHICH That and which can be used in reference to inanimate objects or animals without names. That gets used when it is important to the meaning of the sentence. Use which where the pronoun isn’t necessary (and use commas). Examples: The 90-year-old tortoise who lost two of her legs could still beat the hare with her new wheels. In this sentence, “who lost two of her legs” describes a specific tortoise and is critical to the meaning of the sentence. Example: “The block of houses, which were built in the 1920s, were totally destroyed by the fire.” The phrase, “which were built in the 1920s,” is additional information not critical to the meaning sentence. (Contributing: Stephanie Robertson/Writing Style Guide: 10 AP Style Tips You May Not Know)

Fact-checking Copy fact-checks (FC) and recording checks (RC) your work to make sure you are not misquoting or writing false information in your article. For every fact that you state in your article, (this includes: addresses, dates of events, your sources title/position, etc.) you must include printed fact-checking from a website (or wherever you found it.) It must be HIGHLIGHTED and placed in the tray next to the Copy Chief’s desk with a sticky note that has your name and story’s slug written on it. For any paragraph that refers to hard copy fact-checking material, write at the beginning of the paragraph which it came from and number all materials in order of when they appear in the story. EXAMPLE: (Fact-checking 1) The panel discussion took place in the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building. If your fact-checking includes a packet with a lot of pages, also number the page while stamping. EXAMPLE: (FC1 PG4) The panel discussion took place in the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building. We FC any math too, so if you added any numbers together or used information from charts, you need to provide those charts/tables where you got the numbers from. If there’s no hard copy FC, or it is not highlighted, copy will not edit it and it will delay the editing process.

Source Lists At the Chronicle, we have the opportunity to interview politicians, artists, athletes, administrators, students, experts and citizens as journalists. On any given week, reporters from every desk talk to all kinds of sources, and for that reason, it is very important to keep track of these sources should we need to contact them in the future. The Chronicle has strict sourcing policies and requires every story to be accompanied by a detailed source list. We will not edit any stories that are submitted without a source list including all sources, human or otherwise, referenced in the story. Source lists should include:

• • • • •

Source’s first and last names and their title (occupation) Source’s phone number Source’s email address Method of interview (in-person vs. phone) Date and time of interview

EXAMPLE: Alexandra Yetter Editor-in-Chief of The Chronicle Phone number: (312) 369 8834 Email address: In person interview on Jan. 7, 2020 at 5:00pm

Any story turned in without a complete source list will not be edited.



Recordings In addition to source lists, we require that all interviews be recorded and uploaded onto the server. Illinois law requires that you get permission before recording anyone, so please ask your source to confirm that it’s OK to record the interview. Required steps for recording an interview:

• Before the interview even begins, ask a source if you can record for your notes/clarity/fact checking

• Once you press record, state: “OK, we are recording now”—even if it is in person so they are aware

• Ask your source to state and spell their first and last name

• Ask them what their title is and how they would like it to appear in print

• Ask your source their gender pronouns

• If the person is a Columbia student, ask their year, major, OASIS ID number and preferred pronouns

• If the source is a Columbia alum, ask their graduation year, what degree they got and what their major was

• If it’s a man-on-the-street interview, get the source’s age, neighborhood of residence and occupation

• Conduct the interview

• Before you end the interview, ask if they have any additional information they would like to share or any thing else they have to say on the topic

Timestamping Timestamping is important for the editing process: It lets copy know exactly where in a recording you quoted or paraphrased what someone said. Create a folder in the server for each of your stories, with the slug as the name, and put your recordings in there. Recordings should be labeled with the source’s name. Timestamping/recording is important because a simple comma or way you paraphrase something can change the meaning of what the source has said and that can result in libel. EXAMPLE: “We’re going to cut and paste kids.” vs. “We’re going to cut and paste, kids.” Timestamping can be a laborious process, but it would take way too long to listen to every single person’s 20 minute recording to figure out where your quotes are. Any story without timestamping will not be edited. A timestamp should be labeled with the start time of the information you use. If it is a mix of information from different parts of the recording, label all of the times. EXAMPLE 1: (Portalatin 14:35) Ariana Portalatin, former editor-in-chief of the Chronicle, said she cannot wait for the Spring Semester staff to get published and see their names in print. EXAMPLE 2: (Portalatin 10:20+14:35) “We’ve got a great staff this semester, and it’s exciting for all of us to get to know them,” said Ariana Portalatin, former editor-in-chief of the Chronicle. “Having staff members see their name in print, many for the first time, is the best part of my job. I can’t wait for the first issue.” Hint: Time stamp all paraphrases and quotes while transcribing interviews. If a quote is inaccurate then we may omit it —same for any other unverifiable/unreliable facts. Always check your story for errors before you send it to copy.

Interviewing • Do not turn your recorder off until you or leave or hang up the phone because sometimes sources will start talking on topic again and then you won’t have that information. • Make sure you have plenty of questions ready beforehand, but don’t only stick to the script. Improvise if they give you information that needs follow up. • Make sure your recorder has at least two bars of battery if you expect the interview to take longer than 20 minutes. • Make sure your recorder has enough space for the interview. • If a source goes off the record, you may not use any of the following information in print. • Make sure once they finish talking about the sensitive material that they wanted off the record, you ask them if you can go back on the record, or the rest of the interview will be off the record as well. Sources cannot go off the record after the fact. If they say something and then say, “Oh, that was off the record,” you can still use the material they gave you. • Anonymous sources can only be approved by the Editor-in-Chief. Do not promise anonymity, only say you can speak to your editor about it, but you still have to get their full real name to fact-check that they are a real person. • Chronicle reporters are often able to speak with people who are managed by PR companies and talent agents. Do NOT promise any kind of name-dropping, embedded links in online content or compensation for the agents themselves. If they persist, direct them to the editor-in-chief or a managing editor.

Reporter Checklist Before you file a story make sure you have: • Triple-checked spelling for all proper names • Checked for Fault Lines: made sure that you have tried your best to include a diverse array of sources in consideration of race, gender, age, demographic. (Of course, this will vary from story to story.) • Have you provided timestamps for all quotes in your story? • Does your story have a complete source list? • Have you read your story aloud? • Often, typos and other minor errors are caught when reading aloud. • Have you read your story specifically looking for grammar, spelling and AP Style errors? • Have you read your story specifically checking for content? Is there anything in your story that may confuse the reader?


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The Columbia Chronicle Stylebook, Spring 2020  

The Columbia Chronicle Stylebook, Spring 2020