In filing an add, place below the keyword slug line a slug that lists:

—The name of the datelined community followed by a colon. (Use UNDATED if the item does not have a dateline. The name of the community usually is adequate; include the state or country name only if needed to avoid confusion.)

—The last two words of the previous take.


PM-Air Fares, 1st Ld-1st Add, a0584

WASHINGTON: this year.<


Stories transmitted in advance on nationwide services require a minimum of two additional slugs.

The first allows the computer systems to key on the item. Use the notation $Adv followed by the two-digit release date shown in the keyword line.

The second slug line specifies the release date in more detail.


AM-New Team, ADV03-2 Takes


For Release MON AMs, Aug. 3<


Any other slugs on the story follow the three shown here.

Be sure to use the a priority code if the advance is for weekday release, the s priority code if it is for Sunday release.

When filing a series use a consistent keyword but differentiate the parts by use of a Roman numeral.

PM-Regulators I, Adv10-3 Takes

PM-Regulators II, Adv11-3 Takes


Advisories include a wide range of items from the news digests or budgets to one paragraph items saying a certain story or photo is in the works or has moved.

All advisories carry the v category code. Most advisories have the word Advisory in the version field, separated from the keyword by a comma. Some fixture advisories also have a three-letter identifier in the keyword line to make them easier to find.

Spot news advisories with information on a particular story should have a keyword the same as the story.

General information advisories may use the word Advisory in the keyword. It is not necessary to repeat Advisory in the version field.


PM-Air Fares, Advisory


BC-ADV--Advance-Close, Advisory


Use the upper-rail key to create boldface for all slug lines as illustrated in these examples.

Some terminal screens display the symbol for boldface with a character that looks like this:

Others use a character that looks like this: ^


A decision on whether to slug a story bulletin or urgent rests with the supervisor in charge. The bulletin slug always must be used judiciously.

A bulletin should be kept short. Usually, one or two publishable sentences will be all that is needed to get a story started.

A bulletin should not carry a word count, byline, photo or graphics plans, editor’s note or summary line. (One exception: an undated bulletin should carry a byline or By The Associated Press.)

A bulletin is always preceded by an APNewsAlert, which is a one-line non-publishable headline. (See NewsAlerts entry in this section.)






An urgent slug, with an urgent priority, is usually adequate for adds to a bulletin.


Except for prefixes such as Mac, Mc, Le, or De (writer’s preference) and Sr. or Jr., a writer’s name is entirely in capital letters.

The standard underline for full-time AP employees is Associated Press Writer. Abbreviate Associated Press to AP for specialty underlines such as AP Sports Writer and AP Special Correspondent.

Bylines and underlines are transmitted in boldface and marked for centering:



Associated Press Writer=



AP Religion Writer=



AP Special Correspondent=


For undated stories when a writer’s name is not used:


By The Associated Press=


Use dual bylines only in extraordinary cases. Center the word and on a separate line between the names as follows:






When a story has been written by someone who is not an AP employee, a byline without an underline is adequate.

When a writer works for a newspaper, use an underline with just the name of the newspaper:



Hometown Citizen-Times=


Some terminal screens display the symbol with a character that looks like this: <->

Others use a character that looks like this: =

Place a centering symbol at the end of all bylines and underlines to bylines.

See the example under the bylines entry in this section.


A clarification is a publishable story used to make more clear or to expand upon a previous story or reference which, while factually correct, may be unfair or subject to misinterpretation. It may be used only in cycles subsequent to the cycle in which a story moved. During the cycle in which a story moves, a writethru or a sub, with an explanatory editor’s note, should be used.

A clarification must NOT be used as a substitute for a correction, a kill or a corrective. The clarification is used to provide background or detail in the interest of clarity or fairness. It is not used to correct errors in copy.




Eds: Members who used AM-Air Fares, a0710 of May 8, may wish to use the following which explains that not all fares on domestic flights are subject to change.



Always use the priority code u.

On high-speed services a writethru is required with an editor’s note explaining specifically the location of the correction and what it is.



PM-Air Fares, 2nd Ld-Writethru, a0403

Eds: To CORRECT airline from American to TWA, sub 20th graf: The company ... until then.



Always give the reason for a correction. Be specific. Do not use vague phrases such as to correct a figure — give the correct figure and the one it replaces. The objective is to let editors who may be on deadline know the severity of the error without having to go back to the original copy.

On slow-speed services, corrections can be made by subs, inserts and leads. The following rules apply:

Do not file more than one correction to a story under the same transmission number unless the errors are in adjacent paragraphs.

Follow the keyword line with a slug that lists:

—The name of datelined community.

—The reason for the correction.

—The number of the affected paragraph. Include any other helpful guidance on locating the paragraph.

—The first two words of the paragraph, an ellipsis and the last two words of the paragraph.

Then give the revised paragraph.

End with a pickup line giving the first two words of the next paragraph.

For example:



PM-Air Fares, CORRECTION, a0768

WASHINGTON, to CORRECT airline name from American to TWA, sub 20th graf: The company ... until then.

The company said TWA will keep the ticket prices it has now until then.

A family, 21st graf<


See Procedures section of Libel chapters.


Use a line of three dashes to separate individual items sent within the same story file, such as several datelined stories in a package of briefs. Dashes also should be used on a separate line after a publishable editor’s note.

The dash line may begin with either a paragraph or an upper rail. If it begins with a paragraph, a quad symbol at the end of the line is optional.


See Procedures section of Libel chapters.


File a flash only to report a development of transcendent importance. A flash should be followed immediately by a publishable bulletin.

The format for a flash:





SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) — Man on the moon.


Some terminal screens display the flush left symbol with a character that looks like this: <-

Others use a character that looks like this: <


All stories should have headlines giving the essence of what a story is about.

A summary line should be no more than one line in length and is on the line immediately below the keyword line. (If there is an editor’s note, it follows the summary line.) Articles, prepositions, conjunctions of three letters or fewer are lowercased.



BC-Air Fares

Air Fares Going Up the First of Next Month<


In assigning priority codes and writing the keyword line, treat as spot copy any story that is for release within the current filing cycle at a set time or that is to be released upon movement of a wire note advising that an expected event has taken place.

All embargoed copy contains HFR (Hold for Release) in the version field of the keyword line. A hyphen separates HFR from other information in the version field.

Place the necessary cautions about release on a second slug line immediately under the keyword slug line. For example:



BC-XX- -State of the Union, HFR-4 takes (where XX is the state postal code; no postal code for national services)

HOLD FOR RELEASE, expected about noon EST.





AM-XX- -Statistics, HFR

For Release 6:30 p.m. EST.


Also see the release times entry in the basic style section.


On high-speed services inserts are made with writethru leads, with an editor’s note saying where the insert goes and what it does.

On the slow-speed services, follow the keyword line with a slug that lists:

—The dateline city.

—The reason for the insert.

—The first two words of the paragraph that the insert is to follow.

—The first two words of that paragraph, an ellipsis, and the last two words.

Then provide the insert.

End with a pickup line giving the first two words of the next paragraph.

For example:



AM-Kickbacks, INSERT

NEW YORK: To UPDATE, insert after 5th graf, ‘The report ... of study.’<

A spokesman for the company said none of its officials would comment until the company lawyers could see the full report.

Investigators had, 6th graf<


See Procedures section of Libel chapters.


With the exception of flashes and bulletins, all leads on the high-speed services should be writethrus with editor’s notes saying what is being updated.

File a new lead to a story whenever developments warrant.

On slow-speed services, do not attempt to update a story by filing a sub or insert to be placed higher than the 4th paragraph of a story. Instead, file a new lead.

If the first paragraph of the new lead is unchanged from the previous lead, provide a non-publishable editor’s note explaining the reason for the lead, such as:


Eds: UPDATES 2nd graf with new figures.<


The designation of 2nd, 3rd, 4th Ld, etc., continues in sequence even if the dateline changes. See the precedes entry in this section.


Follow the dateline by the AP logo enclosed in parentheses without spaces. Put spaces on both sides of the dash that follows:


LOS ANGELES (AP) — An earthquake struck the city today.


A MORE indication, if needed at the conclusion of a take of copy, should:

—Begin with a paragraph mark.

—Be followed by a boldface mark and the word MORE in caps: MORE


A one-line, non-publishable headline that briefly describes a story about to move as a bulletin or urgent. If a NewsAlert is filed, do not also file a similar advisory.

NewsAlerts should have a b priority and an a, f, i, s or w category code, depending on the desk of origin. They should always carry the simple slug: BC-APNewsAlert.

Here’s a sample:



President Bush collapses at state dinner in Tokyo, Japanese TV reports.



Magic Johnson says he is HIV-positive, will retire from NBA.


Editor’s notes not intended for publication should be marked for boldface and end with a flush left symbol.

Do not precede a non-publishable editor’s note with a paragraph symbol.


Eds: UPDATES 2nd graf with new figures.<


The following are symbols that should not be used in standard AP wire transmissions.

Some of the symbols can be sent and received by some computers but are not generally used because they are not available throughout the newspaper industry or may act as control characters to make a computer perform a function rather than print a character.


asterisk * Rarely translates and in many cases cannot be sent by AP computers or received by newspaper computers. No substitution.

@ Does not exist. Spell out, as in some computer addresses: president(at) (In these cases, put an editor’s note at the top of the story explaining that the symbol cannot be transmitted on the wire.)

bell Rings bell or sets off alarms. Cannot be printed.

brackets [ ] Rarely translates and in many cases cannot be sent by APcomputers or received by newspaper computers. Use parentheses.

cent ˘ Does not exist. Spell out.

double quotes ” Rarely translates and in many cases cannot be sent by AP computers or received by newspaper computers. Use single open and close quote marks as needed.

equals = This is the control symbol for centering. In some computers it can be translated and printed but it is best spelled out.

percent % Rarely translates and in many cases cannot be sent by APcomputers or received by newspaper computers.

pound sign Ł or # Frequently a control character. Rarely translates and in many cases cannot be sent by APcomputers or received by newspaper computers.

slash / Many newspapers translate the slash into other characters or use it as a control symbol. Substitute a hyphen whenever possible. If it is necessary to use a slash in a story, as in the case of Internet addresses, include a non-publishable editor’s note explaining that the slash may not be transmitted correctly in some member computing systems.

tilde ~ Do not use the symbol. If necessary for Internet addresses, write out the word and put it in parentheses with an editor’s note at the top of the story explaining it is a non-transmitting character.



Symbols for start-of-header, start-of-text, end-of-text, end-of-transmission and the like cannot be printed and when contained in text may confuse the computer. To use in text they have to be spelled out or abbreviated in regular characters: “start-of-text,” “stx.”

Symbols and combinations of characters and symbols used by foreign languages generally cannot be transmitted or received by APand newspaper computers even when they may be shown on keyboards. For example, umlauts have to be formed using two regular letters when they are needed: “Goethe” where the “oe” is the umlauted “o.”

Typesetting symbols such as tab-line-indicators, tab-field-indicators, en, em, thin should only be used to set tabular copy. Spell out when used in text. They may or may not print and might confuse a computer.

Other type faces such as italic cannot be sent through APcomputers and on the news services.


On slow-speed, all subs, corrections and inserts must end with a pickup line. On high-speed, the same rule is followed unless it is a writethru lead.

A pickup line should contain the following, in order:

—A paragraph mark.

—A boldface mark.

—The first two words of the paragraph to be picked up.

—The number of the pickup paragraph as it existed in the story before this item was filed.


The man, 6th graf<


The designation of 2nd, 3rd, 4th Ld, etc., continues in sequence even if the dateline changes on a story.

If a new lead does shift the dateline, follow the keyword line with a precede slug:



PM-Air Fares, 6th Ld-Writethru, a0910



Publishable editor’s notes follow the summary line and should begin with a paragraph symbol, followed by:

—The words EDITOR’S NOTE in all caps.

—A space, a dash and a space.

—The text of the note.

—A dash line.

Do not put the note in parentheses.

Do not boldface the publishable note.


EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the second installment of a three-part series on governmental agencies.


On high-speed services, a substitute paragraph is handled with a writethru lead and an editor’s note explaining what paragraph is being subbed and why.

On slow-speed services, just the new paragraph is filed. Follow the keyword line with a slug line that:

—Begins with the name of the datelined community.

—Lists the reason for the sub.

—The number(s) of the affected paragraph(s).

—The first two words of the paragraph to be deleted, an ellipsis and the last two words. If more than one paragraph is being replaced, give the first two words of the first paragraph and the last two words of the final paragraph to be subbed.

Then give the new paragraph(s).

End with a pickup line.

For example:



PM-Ohio Election, SUB

COLUMBUS: To give final vote figures, SUB 5th graf: The secretary ... his opponent.<

The secretary of state said the final vote count showed that Taft received 1,078,912 votes to 994,786 for his opponent.

Addressing his, 6th graf<


More and more newspapers are turning to tabular material to illustrate stories that deal with numbers and statistics.

The construction of tables can be a real art that is often laborious and time-consuming. The following rules are designed to help build simple tables.


1. Every story or file that has even one line of tabular material in it must have a tabular format identifier in the priority-category code line.

The identifier may be bt for body-tabular or at for agate-tabular, but it MUST be there.

Examples: rnbt, rnat.

2. Every tabular line must begin with a tab line indicator symbol called a tli.


3. Immediately before the first character of the first tabulated column there must be a tab field indicator symbol represented by a tfi. There must be at least one space between the last character of the first column following the tli and the tfi preceding the first tabbed column.


tliReagan tfi000 000 00

tliVerylongname tfi000 000 00


4. The number of the columns and the width of the entire format are restricted by how they will fit in a newspaper and not by the margin of the services on which they are being sent. A good rule of thumb is to use as many abbreviations as possible while keeping the table understandable.

The basic rule for AP tables is that an agate table may not exceed 392 units and a body type table cannot exceed 293.

Each letter and number has a unit count. By totaling the units of all of the characters you will find whether the table will fit.

The unit count is fixed and does not change for the various newspaper type fonts. Theoretically it will fit all.

Here are the counts:


A - 14 a - 11 T - 13 t - 7

B - 14 b - 11 U - 15 u - 11

C - 13 c - 13 V - 14 v - 11

D - 15 d - 11 W - 18 w - 15

E - 15 e - 10 X - 15 x - 11

F - 14 f - 7 Y - 15 y - 11

G - 15 g - 11 Z - 12 z - 9

H - 15 h - 11

I - 8 i - 6 0 - 9 1 - 9

J - 11 j - 7 2 - 9 3 - 9

K - 15 k - 11 4 - 9 5 - 9

L - 13 l - 6 6 - 9 7 - 9

M - 18 m - 18 8 - 9 9 - 9

N - 15 n - 11 , - 6 . - 6

O - 14 o - 10

P - 14 p - 11 All fractions are 18 units

Q - 14 q - 11

R - 15 r - 9 EM - 18 (MUTT) EN - 9 (NUTT)

S - 11 s - 9 THIN - 6


As you can see from the above table, all characters are not 18, nine or six units, but vary. However, you can use em, en and thin symbols to get within one unit of a character’s width.

By figuring out how to set the line with the most characters, you can get the basic table width and all other lines should fall properly into place.

You can put in the em, en or thin symbols manually but frequently the standard AP computer will do it adequately once the file is stored in the system.

There are several ways of testing a tab file. You may send it through a justification computer if it is available and look at it when it comes back. This will work on relatively simple tables. You can test it by sending it on a wire, and you can ask a member to set it for you.

Basically, if you set a table and a line wraps around, it’s too long and you have to cut something out by either abbreviating names and column heads or by dropping a column or two.


A decision on whether to slug a story URGENT rests with the supervisor. In general, however, avoid the casual use of the slug or priority.

Always place an urgent slug immediately below the keyword line.

The word URGENT should be boldface, all caps and flush left on a line by itself. A story with an urgent slug should always have an urgent priority code. The urgent priority code also may be used, however, if an item is not urgent but needs to be moved on an urgent basis.

The slugging of a typical urgent:






See Procedures section of Libel chapters.


Most computers automatically put in the word count.

If the word count is not automatic, put it in at the end of the keyword line immediately following the final comma, without a space.


On high-speed services, all leads are writethrus. On slow-speed services, a lead is slugged Writethru when there are no plans to pick up any of the previously transmitted story.

Be bullish about filing writethrus on slow-speed, particularly when many leads, inserts and subs have been filed on a story.



PM-Clinton, 2nd Ld-Writethru, a0584<

EDS: Combines a0579, a0581 and a0582, adds new comments.