Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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AP Style rules: New year’s edition

December 30, 2016

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Here's a quick AP lesson on ringing in the new year. ("New Year's Eve" image by "SD-Pictures" via pixabay, CCO Public Domain)
Here's a quick AP lesson on ringing in the new year. ("New Year's Eve" image by "SD-Pictures" via pixabay, CCO Public Domain)

Before filing your final end-of-year story, check out these Associated Press style guidelines. They’ll help you finesse the trickier fine points that frequently elude us all.

New Year

The AP Stylebook adds an apostrophe to the holiday and to the exclamation: New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Happy New Year! If you’re writing about the next 12 months will bring, lowercase the phrase.  “It’s unclear what the new year will mean to the economy.”


If it’s the real deal and comes from the Champagne region of France, uppercase. When writing about generic bubbly or sparkling wine (even one made utilizing méthode champenoises), lowercase. “He proudly uncorked the bottle of Champagne from his father’s vineyard in Reims.” “It’s possible to find excellent California champagne for under $20 a bottle.”

Cost of Living

The new year also brings a host of articles about finances, the economy and the cost of living as readers want forecasts about economic changes. When cost of living becomes a compound modifier, i.e., an adjective modifying the noun, hyphenate. Here’s an example: The cost of living across North Carolina went up, but few companies based in the state offered employees cost-of-living raises. AP notes that the cost of living and the Consumer Price Index are two different measurements that cannot be freely swapped; the latter does not take taxes into account.

Fiscal Year

AP describes this term (fiscal year, always lowercase) as the 12-month period a corporation or governmental body uses for bookkeeping purposes. The stylebook tells reporters to note the federal government’s fiscal year starts three months ahead of the calendar year. Fiscal 2007, for instance, ran from Oct 1. 2006 to Sep. 30, 2007. 

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