Sabbath Capitalize in religious references; lowercase to mean a period of rest.

Sabena Belgian World Airlines A Sabena airliner is acceptable in any reference.

Headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.


sacraments Capitalize the proper names used for a sacramental rite that commemorates the life of Jesus Christ or signifies a belief in his presence: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Holy Eucharist.

Lowercase the names of other sacraments: baptism, confirmation, penance (now often called the sacrament of reconciliation), matrimony, holy orders, and the sacrament of anointing the sick (formerly extreme unction).

See entries for the major religious denominations and religious references.


Safeway Stores Inc. Headquarters is in Oakland, Calif.

saint Abbreviate as St. in the names of saints, cities and other places: St. Jude; St. Paul, Minn.; St John’s, Newfoundland; St. Lawrence Seaway.

But see the entries for Saint John and Sault Ste. Marie.

Saint John The spelling for the city in New Brunswick.

To distinguish it from St. John’s, Newfoundland.


SALT See Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)

Salt Lake City Stands alone in datelines.

salvo, salvos

SAM, SAMs Acceptable on second reference for surface-to-air-missile(s).

San‘a It’s NOT an apostrophe (’) in the Yemen capital’s name. It’s a reverse apostrophe (‘), or a single opening quotation mark.

sandbag (n.) The verbs: sandbagged, sandbagging. And: sandbagger.

San Diego The city in California stands alone in datelines.

sandstorm See weather terms.


San Francisco The city in California stands alone in datelines.

sanitarium, sanitariums

San Marino Use alone in datelines on stories from the Republic of San Marino.

Santa Claus

Sardinia Use instead of Italy in datelines on stories from communities on this island.

Saskatchewan A province of Canada north of Montana and North Dakota. Do not abbreviate.

See datelines.

Satan But lowercase devil and satanic.

satellites See spacecraft designations.

satellite communications The following are some generally used technical terms dealing with satellite communications.

uplink The transmission from the ground to the satellite.

downlink The transmission from the satellite to the ground.

foot print The area on the ground in which a transmission from a particular satellite can be received.

earth station Sending or receiving equipment on the ground for a satellite.

transponder The equipment on a satellite that receives from the ground and sends to the ground. A satellite usually has a number of transponders.

geosynchronous A satellite orbit in which the satellite appears to always be in the same place in reference to the Earth. Most communications satellites are in geosynchronous orbits. Also geostationary.

Saturday See days of the week.

Saturday night special See weapons.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario The abbreviation is Ste. instead of St. because the full name is Sault Sainte Marie.

savings and loan associations They are not banks. Use the association on second reference.

savior Use this spelling for all senses, rather than the alternate form, saviour.

Scandinavian Airlines System SAS is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Stockholm, Sweden.

scene numbers Capitalize scene when used with a figure: Scene 2; Act 2, Scene 4.

But: the second scene, the third scene.

scheme Do not use as a synonym for a plan or a project.

school Capitalize when part of a proper name: Public School 3, Madison Elementary School, Doherty Junior High School, Crocker High School.

scissors Takes plural verbs and pronouns: The scissors are on the table. Leave them there.

Scot, Scots, Scottish A native of Scotland is a Scot. The people are the Scots, not the Scotch.

Somebody or something is Scottish.

scotch barley, scotch broth, scotch salmon, scotch sour

Scotch tape A trademark for a brand of transparent tape.

Scotch whisky A type of whiskey distilled in Scotland from malted barley. The malt is dried over a peat fire.

Capitalize Scotch and use the spelling whisky only when the two words are used together.

Lowercase scotch standing alone: Give me some scotch.

Use the spelling whiskey for generic references to the beverage, which may be distilled from any of several grains.

The verb to scotch means to stamp out, put an end to.

Scotland Use Scotland after the names of Scottish communities in datelines.

See datelines and United Kingdom.

Scripture, Scriptures Capitalize when referring to the religious writings in the Bible.

See Bible.

scuba Lowercased acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

sculptor Use for both men and women.


Sea Islands A chain of islands off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Islands within the boundaries of South Carolina include Parris Island, Port Royal Island, and St. Helena Island.

Those within Georgia include Cumberland Island (largest in the chain), St. Simons Island and St. Catherines Island (no apostrophes), and Sea Island.

Amelia Island is within the boundaries of Florida.

Several communities have names taken from the island name — Port Royal is a town on Port Royal Island, Sea Island is a resort on Sea Island, and St. Simons Island is a village on St. Simons Island.

In datelines:



seaman See military titles.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. Headquarters is in Chicago.

seasons Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter and derivatives such as springtime unless part of a formal name: Dartmouth Winter Carnival, Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics.

Seattle The city in the state of Washington stands alone in datelines.

second guess (n.) The verb form: second-guess. Also: second-guesser.

second hand (n.) secondhand (adj. and adv.) Secondhand Rose had a watch with a second hand that she bought secondhand.

second-rate (adj.) All uses: A second-rate play. The play is second-rate.

second reference When used in this book, the term applies to all subsequent references to an organization or individual within a story.

Acceptable abbreviations and acronyms for organizations frequently in the news are listed under the organization’s full name. A few prominent acronyms acceptable on first reference also are listed alphabetically according to the letters of the acronym.

The listing of an acceptable term for second reference does not mean that it always must be used after the first reference. Often a generic word such as the agency, the commission or the company is more appropriate and less jarring to the reader. At other times, the full name may need to be repeated for clarity.

For additional guidelines that apply to organizations, see the abbreviations and acronyms entry and capitalization.

For additional guidelines that apply to individuals, see courtesy titles and titles.

secretary Capitalize before a name only if it is an official corporate or organizational title. Do not abbreviate.

See titles.

secretary-general With a hyphen. Capitalize as a formal title before a name: Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold.

See titles.

secretary of state Capitalize as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

secretary-treasurer With a hyphen. Capitalize as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

Secret Service A federal agency administered by the Treasury Department.

The Secret Service Uniformed Division, which protects the president’s residence and offices and the embassies in Washington, formerly was known as the Executive Protective Service.

section Capitalize when used with a figure to identify part of a law or bill: Section 14B of the Taft-Hartley Act.

Securities and Exchange Commission SEC is acceptable on second reference.

The related legislation is the Securities Exchange Act (no and).

Security Council (U.N.) Security Council may be used on first reference in stories under a United Nations dateline. Use U.N. Security Council in other first references.

Retain capitalization of Security Council in all references.

Lowercase council whenever it stands alone.

Seeing Eye dog A trademark for a guide dog trained by Seeing Eye Inc. of Morristown, N.J.


self- Always hyphenate:

self-assured self-government


sell out (v.) sellout (n.)

semi- The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen.

Some examples:

semifinal semiofficial

semi-invalid semitropical

semiannual Twice a year, a synonym for biannual.

Do not confuse it with biennial, which means every two years.

senate Capitalize all specific references to governmental legislative bodies, regardless of whether the name of the nation is used: the U.S. Senate, the Senate, the Virginia Senate, the state Senate, the Senate.

Lowercase plural uses: the Virginia and North Carolina senates.

See governmental bodies.

The same principles apply to foreign bodies. See foreign legislative bodies.

Lowercase references to non-governmental bodies: the student senate at Yale.

senator, Sen. See legislative titles and party affiliation.

senatorial Always lowercase.

send off (v.) send-off (n.)

senior See the junior, senior entry.

senior citizen Use the term sparingly. See elderly.

sentences Capitalize the first word of every sentence, including quoted statements and direct questions:

Patrick Henry said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Capitalize the first word of a quoted statement if it constitutes a sentence, even if it was part of a larger sentence in the original: Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

In direct questions, even without quotation marks: The story answers the question, Where does true happiness really lie?

See ellipsis in the Punctuation chapter and poetry.

September See months.

sergeant See military titles.

serial numbers Use figures and capital letters in solid form (no hyphens or spaces unless the source indicates they are an integral part of the code): A1234567.


service clubs See the fraternal organizations and service clubs entry.

service mark A brand, symbol, word, etc. used by a supplier of services and protected by law to prevent a competitor from using it: Realtor, for a member of the National Association of Realtors, for example.

When a service mark is used, capitalize it.

The preferred form, however, is to use a generic term unless the service mark is essential to the story.

See brand names and trademark.

sesquicentennial Every 150 years.

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

7-Eleven Trademark for stores operated and licensed by Southland Corp. Headquarters in Dallas.

Seven Seas Arabian Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, South China Sea.

Seven Sisters The colleges are: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley.

Also an outdated nickname for the world’s largest privately operated oil companies. They were: British Petroleum, Exxon, Gulf, Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Texaco, and Chevron, formerly Standard Oil Co. of California. Chevron has taken over Gulf, reducing the number to six.

Seventh-day Adventist Church The denomination is traceable to the preaching of William Miller of New Hampton, N.Y., a Baptist layman who said his study of the Book of Daniel showed that the end of the world would come in the mid-1840s.

When the prediction did not come true, the Millerites split into smaller groups. One, influenced by visions described by Ellen Harmon, later Mrs. James White, is the precursor of the Seventh-day Adventist practice today.

The church has four constituent levels: 1. Local churches. 2. Local conferences of churches for a state or part of a state. 3. Union conferences of a number of local conferences. 4. The General Conference.

The General Conference in Session, which meets every five years, and the General Conference Executive Committee are the highest administrative authorities.

The office of the General Confer-ence, located in Washington, lists U.S. membership at 627,000 and worldwide membership at 5.2 million.

The description adventist is based on the belief that a second coming of Christ is near. Seventh-day derives from the contention that the Bible requires observing the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath.

Baptism, by immersion, is reserved for those old enough to understand its meaning. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only sacraments.

The head of the General Conference holds the formal title of president. The formal titles for ministers are pastor or elder. Capitalize them when used immediately before a name on first reference. On second reference, use only the last name of a man; use Miss, Mrs. or Ms. or no title before the last name of a woman, depending on her preference.

The designation the Rev. is not used.

See religious titles.

Seven-Up, 7Up Trademarks for a brand of soft drink.

Seven Wonders of the World The Egyptian pyramids, the hanging gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the statue of Zeus by Phidias at Olympia and the Pharos or lighthouse at Alexandria.

sewage, sewerage Sewage is waste matter.

Sewerage is the drainage system.

sex changes Follow these guidelines in using proper names or personal pronouns when referring to an individual who has had a sex-change operation:

—If the reference is to an action before the operation, use the proper name and sex of the individual at that time.

—If the reference is to an action after the operation, use the new proper name and sex.

For example:

Dr. Richard Raskind was a first-rate amateur tennis player. He won several tournaments. Ten years later, when Dr. Renee Richards applied to play in tournaments, many women players objected on the ground that she was the former Richard Raskind, who had undergone a sex-change operation. Miss Richards said she was entitled to compete as a woman.

sexism See the man, mankind and women entries.

shah Capitalize when used as a title before a name: Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran.

The Shah of Iran commonly is known only by this title, which is, in effect, an alternate name. Capitalize Shah of Iran in references to the holder of the title; lowercase subsequent references as the shah.

The practice is based on the guidelines in the nobility entry.

shake up (v.) shake-up (n. and adj.)

shall, will Use shall to express determination: We shall overcome. You and he shall stay.

Either shall or will may be used in first-person constructions that do not emphasize determination: We shall hold a meeting. We will hold a meeting.

For second- and third-person constructions, use will unless determination is stressed: You will like it. She will not be pleased.

See the should, would entry and subjunctive mood.

shape up (v.) shape-up (n. and adj.)

Shariah The legal code of Islam. It is roughly comparable to the Talmudic tradition in Judaism.

Shavuot The Jewish Feast of Weeks, commemorating the receiving of the Ten Commandments. Occurs in May or June.

she Do not use this pronoun in references to ships or nations.

Use it instead.

Sheet Metal Workers International Association The shortened form Sheet Metal Workers union is acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in Washington.

Sheetrock A trademark for a brand of gypsum wallboard.

shell See weapons.

Shell Oil Co. This U.S. company with headquarters in Houston, is part of the Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies. The group owns more than half of the stock in Shell Oil.

sheriff Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name. See titles.

ships See the boats, ships entry.

shirt sleeve, shirt sleeves (n.) shirt-sleeve (adj.)

shoeshine, shoestring



short-lived (adj.) A short-lived plan. The plan was short-lived.

short ton Equal to 2,000 pounds. See ton.

shot See weapons.

shotgun See weapons.

should, would Use should to express an obligation: We should help the needy.

Use would to express a customary action: In the summer we would spend hours by the seashore.

Use would also in constructing a conditional past tense, but be careful:

Wrong: If Soderholm would not have had an injured foot, Thompson would not have been in the lineup.

Right: If Soderholm had not had an injured foot, Thompson would not have been in the lineup.

See subjunctive mood.

showcase, showroom

show off (v.) showoff (n.)

shrubs See plants.

shut down (v.) shutdown (n.)


shut off (v.) shut-off (n.)

shut out (v.) shutout (n.)

(sic) Do not use (sic) unless it is in the matter being quoted. To show that an error, peculiar usage or spelling is in the original, use a note to editors at the top of the story, below the summary line but ahead of a byline.

— — —

EDITORS: The spelling cabob is in the original copy.


EDITORS: The spelling Jorga is correct.

Sicily Use instead of Italy in datelines on stories from communities on this island.

side by side, side-by-side They walked side by side. The stories received side-by-side display.

Sierra Nevada, the Not Sierra Nevada Mountains. (Sierra means mountains.)

sightseeing, sightseer

Simoniz A trademark for a brand of auto wax.

Sinai Not the Sinai. But: the Sinai Desert, the Sinai Peninsula.

Singapore Stands alone in datelines.

single-handed, single-handedly

sir See nobility.

sister Capitalize in all references before the names of nuns.

If no surname is given, the name is the same in all references: Sister Agnes Rita.

If a surname is used in first reference, drop the given name on second reference: Sister Clair Regina Torpy on first reference, Sister Torpy in subsequent references, or use courtesy titles or no title as she prefers.

Use Mother the same way when referring to a woman who heads a group of nuns.

See religious titles.

sister-in-law, sisters-in-law

sit down (v.) sit-down (n. and adj.)

sit in (v.) sit-in (n. and adj.)


sizes Use figures: a size 9 dress, size 40 long, 10 1/2B shoes, a 34 1/2 sleeve.

skeptic See the cynic, skeptic entry.

ski, skis, skier, skied, skiing Also: ski jump, ski jumping.

Skid Road, Skid Row The term originated as Skid Road in the Seattle area, where dirt roads were used to skid logs to the mill. Over the years, Skid Road became a synonym for the area where loggers gathered, usually down among the rooming houses and saloons.

In time, the term spread to other cities as a description for sections, such as the Bowery in New York, that are havens for derelicts. In the process, row replaced road in many references.

Use Skid Road for this section in Seattle; either Skid Road or Skid Row for other areas.


slang In general, avoid slang, the highly informal language that is outside of conventional or standard usage.

See colloquialisms; dialect; and word selection.

slaying See the homicide, murder, manslaughter entry.


sleet See weather terms.

sleight of hand



slush fund

small-arms fire

small-business man

smash up (v.) smashup (n. and adj.)

Smithfield Ham A trademark for a ham dry-cured, smoked and aged in Smithfield, Va.

Smithsonian Institution Not Smithsonian Institute.

smoke bomb, smoke screen

Smokey Or Smokey Bear. Not Smokey the Bear.

But: A smoky room.

smolder Not smoulder.

sneaked Preferred as past tense of sneak. Do not use the colloquial snuck.

snowdrift, snowfall, snowflake, snowman, snowplow, snowshoe, snowstorm, snowsuit

so called (adv.) so-called (adj.)

socialist, socialism See the political parties and philosophies entry.

Social Security Capitalize all references to the U.S. system.

The number groups are hyphenated: 123-45-6789

Lowercase generic uses such as: Is there a social security program in Sweden?

social titles See courtesy titles.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals SPCA is acceptable on second reference.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is limited to the five boroughs of New York City.

The autonomous chapters in other cities ordinarily precede the organization by the name of the city: On first reference, the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; on second, the Philadelphia SPCA or SPCA as appropriate in the context.

Society of Friends See Quakers.

Society of Professional Journalists (no longer the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi). On second reference: SPJ.


software titles Capitalize but do not use quotation marks around such titles as WordPerfect or Windows, but use quotation marks for computer games: "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"

solicitor See lawyer.

Solid Those Southern states traditionally regarded as supporters of the Democratic Party.

soliloquy, soliloquies

song titles See composition titles.

son-in-law, sons-in-law

SOS The distress signal.

S.O.S (no final period) is a trademark for a brand of soap pad.

sound barrier The speed of sound no longer a true barrier because aircraft have exceeded it. See Mach number.

South As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, the 16-state region is broken into three divisions.

The four East South Central states are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The eight South Atlantic states are Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The four West South Central states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

There is no official U.S. Census Bureau definition of Southeast.

See North Central region; Northeast region; and West for the bureau’s other regional breakdowns.

south, southern, southeast, southwest See the directions and regions entry.

South America See Western Hemisphere.

South Carolina Abbrev.: S.C. See state names.

South Dakota Abbrev.: S.D. See state names.

Southeast Asia The nations of the Indochinese Peninsula and the islands southeast of it: Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

See Asian subcontinent and Far East.

Southeast Asia Treaty Organization SEATO is acceptable on second reference.

Soviet Union See Commonwealth of Independent States.

Space Age It began with the launching of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957.

space agency See National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

space centers See John F. Kennedy Space Center and Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

spacecraft designations Use Arabic figures and capitalize the name: Gemini 7, Apollo 11, Pioneer 10.


space shuttle Lowercase space shuttle, but capitalize a proper name.

The space shuttle is a reusable winged aircraft capable of carrying people and cargo into Earth orbit. It is designed to take off vertically with the aid of booster rockets. After an orbital mission, re-entry begins with the firing of engines that send the craft back into Earth’s atmosphere. The final leg of the return trip is a powerless glide to a landing strip.


Spanish-American War

Spanish and Portuguese names The family names of both the father and mother usually are considered part of a person’s full name. In everyday use, customs vary widely with individuals and countries.

The normal sequence is given name, father’s family name, mother’s family name: Jose Lopez Portillo.

On second reference, use only the father’s family name (Lopez), unless the individual prefers or is widely known by a multiple last name (Lopez Portillo).

Some individuals use a y (for and) between the two surnames: Jose Lopez y Portillo. Include the y on second reference only if both names are used: Lopez y Portillo.

In the Portuguese practice common in Portugal and Brazil, some individuals use only the mother’s family name on second reference. If the individual’s preference is not known, use both family names on second reference: Humberto Castello Branco on first reference, Castello Branco on second.

A married woman frequently uses her father’s family name followed by the particle de (for of) and her husband’s name. A woman named Irma Perez who married a man named Anibal Gutierrez would be known as Irma Perez de Gutierrez. Use Mrs. Gutierrez on second reference.

speaker Capitalize as a formal title before a name. Generally, it is a formal title only for the speaker of a legislative body: Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill.

See titles.

special contexts When this term is used in this book, it means that the material described may be used in a regular column devoted to a specialized subject or when a particular literary effect is suitable.

Special literary effects generally are suitable only in feature copy, but even there they should be used with care. Most feature material should follow the same style norms that apply to regular news copy.

species Same in singular and plural. Use singular or plural verbs and pronouns depending on the sense: The species has been unable to maintain itself. Both species are extinct.

See genus, species.

speeches Capitalize and use quotation marks for their formal titles, as described in composition titles.

speechmaker, speechmaking

speed of sound See Mach number.

speeds Use figures. The car slowed to 7 miles per hour, winds of 5 to 10 miles per hour, winds of 7 to 9 knots, 10-knot wind.

Avoid extensively hyphenated constructions such as 5-mile-per-hour winds.

speed up (v.) speedup (n. and adj.)

spelling The basic rule when in doubt is to consult this book followed by, if necessary, a dictionary under conditions described in the dictionary entry.

Memory Aid: Noah Webster developed the following rule of thumb for the frequently vexing question of whether to double a final consonant in forming the present participle and past tense of a verb:

—If the stress in pronunciation is on the first syllable, do not double the consonant: combat, combating, combated; cancel, canceling, canceled.

—If the stress in pronunciation is on the second syllable, double the consonant unless confusion would result: incur, incurred, incurring. An exception, to avoid confusion with buss, is bus, bused, busing.

spill, spilled, spilling Not spilt in the past tense.

split infinitive See verbs.

spokesman, spokeswoman But not spokesperson. Use a representative if you do not know the sex of the individual.

spouse Use when some of the people involved may be men. For example: physicians and their spouses, not physicians and their wives.

spring See seasons.


sputnik Usually lowercase, but capitalize when followed by a figure as part of a proper name: Sputnik 1.

It is Russian for satellite.

squall See weather terms.

square Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when part of a proper name: Washington Square.

squinting modifier A misplaced adverb that can be interpreted as modifying either of two words: Those who lie often are found out.

Place the adverb where there can be no confusion, even if a compound verb must be split: Those who often lie are found out. Or if that was not the sense: Those who lie are often found out.

Sri Lanka Formerly Ceylon. Use Sri Lanka in datelines and other references to the nation.

The people may be called either Sri Lankans or Ceylonese.

Before the nation was called Ceylon, it was Serendip, whence comes the word serendipity.

SRO Acceptable on second reference for standing room only.

S.S. Kresge Co. Now known as Kmart. Headquarters is in Troy, Mich.

SST Acceptable in all references for a supersonic transport.

stadium, stadiums Capitalize only when part of a proper name: Yankee Stadium.

Stalin, Josef Not Joseph.

stall Use care when using stall in this sense. When an automobile stalls, the engine stops. This may not be true when an airplane stalls; it pitches forward or sideways because of a lack of air speed.

stanch, staunch Stanch is a verb: He stanched the flow of blood.

Staunch is an adjective: She is a staunch supporter of equality.

Standard & Poor’s Register of Corporations The source for determining the formal name of a business. See company names.

The register is published by Standard & Poor’s Corp. of New York.


standard time Capitalize Eastern Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time, etc., but lowercase standard time when standing alone.

See time zones.

stand in (v.) stand-in (n. and adj.)

standing room only SRO is acceptable on second reference.

stand off (v.) standoff (n. and adj.)

stand out (v.) standout (n. and adj.)

starboard Nautical for right. See port, starboard entry.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" But lowercase the national anthem.

state Lowercase in all state of constructions: the state of Maine, the states of Maine and Vermont.

Four states — Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia — are legally commonwealths rather than states. The distinction is necessary only in formal uses: The commonwealth of Kentucky filed a suit. For simple geographic reference: Tobacco is grown in the state of Kentucky.

Do not capitalize state when used simply as an adjective to specify a level of jurisdiction: state Rep. William Smith, the state Transportation Department, state funds.

Apply the same principle to phrases such as the city of Chicago, the town of Auburn, etc.

See also state names.

statehouse Capitalize all references to a specific statehouse, with or without the name of the state: The Vermont Statehouse is in Montpelier. The governor will visit the Statehouse today.

Lowercase plural uses: the Massachusetts and Rhode Island statehouses.

state names Follow these guidelines:

STANDING ALONE: Spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone in textual material. Any state name may be condensed, however, to fit typographical requirements for tabular material.

EIGHT NOT ABBREVIATED: The names of eight states are never abbreviated in datelines or text: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

Memory Aid: Spell out the names of the two states that are not part of the contiguous United States and of the continental states that are five letters or fewer.

ABBREVIATIONS REQUIRED: Use the state abbreviations listed at the end of this section:

—In conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base in most datelines. See datelines for examples and exceptions for large cities.

—In conjunction with the name of a city, county, town, village or military base in text. See examples in punctuation section below. See datelines for guidelines on when a city name may stand alone in the body of a story.

—In short-form listings of party affiliation: D-Ala., R-Mont. See party affiliation entry for details.

Following are the state abbreviations, which also appear in the entries for each state (ZIP code abbreviations in parentheses):

Ala. (AL) Md. (MD) N.D. (ND)

Ariz. (AZ) Mass. (MA) Okla. (OK)

Ark. (AR) Mich. (MI) Ore. (OR)

Calif. (CA) Minn. (MN) Pa. (PA)

Colo. (CO) Miss. (MS) R.I. (RI)

Conn. (CT) Mo. (MO) S.C. (SC)

Del. (DE) Mont. (MT) S.D. (SD)

Fla. (FL) Neb. (NE) Tenn. (TN)

Ga. (GA) Nev. (NV) Vt. (VT)

Ill. (IL) N.H. (NH) Va. (VA)

Ind. (IN) N.J. (NJ) Wash. (WA)

Kan. (KS) N.M. (NM) W.Va. (WV)

Ky. (KY) N.Y. (NY) Wis. (WI)

La. (LA) N.C. (NC) Wyo. (WY)

(These are the ZIP code abbreviations for the eight states that are not abbreviated in datelines or text: AK (Alaska), HI (Hawaii), ID (Idaho), IA (Iowa), ME (Maine), OH (Ohio), TX (Texas), UT (Utah).

*Use the two-letter Postal Service abbreviations only with full addresses, including ZIP code. (This is a change in APstyle.)

PUNCTUATION: Place one comma between the city and the state name, and another comma after the state name, unless ending a sentence or indicating a dateline: He was traveling from Nashville, Tenn., to Austin, Texas, en route to his home in Albuquerque, N.M. She said Cook County, Ill., was Mayor Daley’s stronghold.

MISCELLANEOUS: Use New York state when necessary to distinguish the state from New York City.

Use state of Washington or Washington state when necessary to distinguish the state from the District of Columbia. (Washington State is the name of a university in the state of Washington.)

State of the Union Capitalize all references to the president’s annual address.

Lowercase other uses: “The state of the union is confused,” the editor said.

state police Capitalize with a state name if part of the formal description for a police agency: the New York State Police, the Virginia State Police.

In most cases, state police standing alone is a shorthand reference for state policemen rather than a reference to the agency. For consistency and to avoid hairline distinctions about whether the reference is to the agency or the officers, lowercase the words state police whenever they are not preceded by a state name.

See highway patrol.

states’ rights


stationary, stationery To stand still is to be stationary.

Writing paper is stationery.

station wagon

statute mile It equals 5,280 feet, or approximately 1.6 kilometers.

To convert to approximate nautical miles, multiply the number of statute miles by .869.

See kilometer; knot; mile; and nautical mile.

staunch See the stanch, staunch entry.

steady-state theory See big-bang theory.

stealth When used in connection with military aircraft, ships and vehicles it means the equipment is masked from various types of electronic detection. Stealth equipment can range from radar wave absorbing paint to electronic jamming devices. Like the cruise missile, always lowercase, no quotation marks.

stepbrother, stepfather Also: stepsister, stepmother.



St. John’s The city in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.

Not to be confused with Saint John, New Brunswick.

St. Louis The city in Missouri stands alone in datelines.

stockmen’s advisory See weather terms.

stool pigeon


storm See weather terms.


straight-laced, strait-laced Use straight-laced for someone strict or severe in behavior or moral views.

Reserve strait-laced for the notion of confinement, as in a corset.

strait Capitalize as part of a proper name: Bering Strait, Strait of Gibraltar.

But: the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. Neither is followed by Strait.

straitjacket Not straight-jacket.

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty START is acceptable on first reference to the treaty as long as it is made immediately clear which is being referred to.

Use the strategic arms treaty or the treaties in some references to avoid alphabet soup.

There are two treaties, START I (1991) and START II (1993).

Do not confuse with the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty of 1979, known as SALT.

Strategic Defense Initiative This is the official name of the research and development work on defense against a nuclear attack. SDI is the acronym and is acceptable on second reference. "Star Wars" has become synonymous with both and was derived from the movie series. If used, it must always be within quotation marks.

street Abbreviate only with a numbered address. See addresses.


strong-arm (v., adj.)


student See the pupil, student entry.

Styrofoam A trademark for a brand of plastic foam. Use the term plastic foam unless referring specifically to the trademark product.

sub- The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some examples:

subbasement submachine gun

subcommittee suborbital

subculture subtotal

subdivision subzero

subcommittee Lowercase when used with the name of a legislative body’s full committee: a Ways and Means subcommittee.

Capitalize when a subcommittee has a proper name of its own: the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

subject See the citizen, resident, subject, national, native entry.

subjunctive mood Use the subjunctive mood of a verb for contrary-to-fact conditions, and expressions of doubts, wishes or regrets:

If I were a rich man, I wouldn’t have to work hard.

I doubt that more money would be the answer.

I wish it were possible to take back my words.

Sentences that express a contingency or hypothesis may use either the subjunctive or the indicative mood depending on the context. In general, use the subjunctive if there is little likelihood that a contingency might come true:

If I were to marry a millionaire, I wouldn’t have to worry about money.

If the bill passes as expected, it will provide an immediate tax cut.

See the should, would entry.

submachine gun See weapons.

subpoena, subpoenaed, subpoenaing

Sucaryl A trademark for a brand of non-caloric sweetener.


suffixes See separate listing for commonly used suffixes.

Follow Webster’s New World Diction- ary for words not in this book.

If a word combination is not listed in Webster’s New World, use two words for the verb form; hyphenate any noun or adjective forms.

suit, suite You may have a suit of clothes, a suit of cards, or be faced with a lawsuit.

There are suites of music, rooms and furniture.

Sukkot The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, celebrating the fall harvest and commemorating the desert wandering of the Jews during the Exodus. Occurs in September or October.

summer See seasons.


sun Lowercase. See heavenly bodies.

sunbathe The verb forms: sunbathed, sunbathing. Also: sunbather.

Sun Belt Generally those states in the South and West, ranging from Florida and Georgia through the Gulf states into California.

Sunday See days of the week.

super Avoid the slang tendency to use it in place of excellent, wonderful, etc.

super- The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some frequently used words:

superagency superhighway

supercarrier superpower

supercharge supertanker

As with all prefixes, however, use a hyphen if the word that follows is capitalized: super-Republican.

Super Bowl

superconducting super collider

superintendent Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

superior court See court names.


supersonic See Mach number.

supersonic transport SST is acceptable in all references.

supra- The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some examples:

supragovernmental supranational

Supreme Court of the United States Capitalize U.S. Supreme Court and also the Supreme Court when the context makes the U.S. designation unnecessary.

The chief justice is properly the chief justice of the United States, not of the Supreme Court: Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

The proper title for the eight other members of the court is associate justice. When used as a formal title before a name, it should be shortened to justice unless there are special circumstances: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

See judge.

supreme courts of the states Capitalize with the state name (the New Jersey Supreme Court) and without the state name when the context makes it unnecessary: the state Supreme Court, the Supreme Court.

If a court with this name is not a state’s highest tribunal, the fact should be noted. In New York, for example, the Supreme Court is a trial court. Appeals are directed to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. The state’s highest court is the Court of Appeals.

surface-to-air missile(s) SAM(s) may be used on second reference. Avoid the redundant SAM missiles.

suspensive hyphenation The form: The 5- and 6-year-olds attend morning classes.


sweat pants, sweat shirt, sweat suit

Swissair Headquarters is in Zurich, Switzerland.

syllabus, syllabuses

synagogue Capitalize only when part of a formal name.

Synagogue Council of America See Jewish congregations.

synod A council of churches or church officials. See the entry for the denomination in question.