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Editorial Style Guide

Word List and Usage A–Z

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J–K   L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X–Z



sacrilegious This word is related to sacrilege, not to religion or religious.

schoolchildren One word.

screen saver Two words (AP style).

scuba Lowercased acronym, acceptable in all references for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

sculptor Use for both men and women.

seasons In running text, lowercase the names of seasons (fall, spring, summer, winter) and derivatives (e.g., springtime, summertime, autumn), unless part of a formal name: the spring semester, the Summer Olympics.

SEC Acceptable in second references for Securities and Exchange Commission.

self- Hyphenate when used to form a compound, except where self is followed by a suffix or preceded by un: self-assured, self-conscious, self-defense, self-government; selfless, unselfconscious.

semi- In general, no hyphen when used as a prefix, except to separate two i’s: semiannual, semicolon, semiconductor, semiprivate, semitropical; semi-invalid. See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.

semiannual See biannual, semiannual, biennial.

Sept. 11 The term used to describe the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001; include the year if needed for clarity. Also acceptable in all references: 9/11.

set up (v.), setup (n. and adj.)

shut down (v.), shutdown (n.)

since See because, since.

smartphone One word, no hyphen.

so called (adv.), so-called (adj.) This expression indicates irony or doubt; use sparingly and normally without quotation marks: The so-called easy method seemed the hardest of all.

socio- No hyphen when used to form a compound: socioeconomic, sociopolitical.

songwriter, songwriting One word, no hyphen.

soundstage One word, no hyphen.

species Same in singular and plural. Use singular or plural verbs and pronouns depending on the sense: The species has thrived in its new habitat. Both species are extinct.

spokesman, spokeswoman Not spokesperson. For a gender-neutral variant, use representative (AP style). Helpful techniques on achieving gender-neutral language are available in the Chicago Manual of Style, Section 5.225.

staff The noun staff is collective, referring not to individuals but to the group. For individuals, use staff member or member of the … staff. Do not use the term staffer(s).

startup (n. and adj.) One word, no hyphen to describe a new business venture (AP style).

statewide No hyphen. Also: campuswide, collegewide, nationwide, worldwide.

stationary, stationery Stationary describes a state of immobility or of staying in one place (when a warm or cold front stops moving, it becomes a stationary front). Stationery denotes writing materials (the thank-you note was written on beautiful stationery). To remember the two, try associating the “er” in stationery with the “er” in paper.

step- No hyphen when used to form a compound, except with grand and great: stepbrother, stepparent; step-grandson, step-great-granddaughter.

storyteller One word, no hyphen.

stylebook One word when referring to AP Stylebook and stylebooks generically.

strategy, tactics A strategy is a long-term plan for achieving a goal. Tactics are shorter-term plans for achieving an immediate but limited success. A strategy might involve several tactics.

sub- In general, no hyphen when used as a prefix: subcommittee, subdivision, subprime, subtotal, subzero. See Words Formed with Prefixes under General Style Preferences.

subsequently For simplicity, try later instead.

subsequent to For simplicity, try after instead.

such This word, when used to replace this or that, is symptomatic of legalese. It is no more precise than the, this, that, these, or those. It is perfectly acceptable, however, to use such with a mass noun or plural noun when the meaning is “of that type” or “of this kind” (such vitriolic exchanges became commonplace in the following years).

super-, supra- In general, no hyphen when these are used as prefixes: supercharge, superconducting, superhighway, supermajority, superpower, supersonic; supranational, supramolecular. See Words Formed With Prefixes under General Style Preferences.

supersede Not supercede (a spelling error).

SUV Acceptable in all references for sport utility vehicle.

syllabus (singular), syllabi (plural): The plural is a commonly used exception to AP style, which uses syllabuses.

sync Short for synchronization (not synch). Also: syncing.

systematic, systemic Systematic means “according to a plan or system, methodical, or arranged in a system.” Systemic is limited in use to physiological systems (a systemic disease affecting several organs) or, by extension, other systems that may be likened to the body (systemic problems within the corporate hierarchy).

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