Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

A news release should never contain typographical errors. Stylebooks, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, and The New York Times Stylebook provide guidelines for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage. In general, use the following style recommendations when writing releases.

  • Capitalize formal titles when they are used before a name, but not following a name: President Jones or Chairperson Smith, but John Maple, chairperson.
  • Months containing more than five letters with a specific date are abbreviated: Feb. 9. Months standing alone and the days of the week are capitalized and spelled out: The tree planting will be in May; There will be a rally for the park on Thursday.
  • In general, numbers from one to nine are spelled out and numbers 10 or greater are written numerically, except at the start of a sentence.
  • Numerals are used for the days of the month when they follow the names of the months. Write March 17, not 17th.
  • Use a.m. and p.m. in lower case with times: 9 a.m., 2:30 p.m.
  • Use Ave., Blvd., and St. with a number address. Always spell out street names: 125 Irvine Ave., 250 Tulip St., a park at 519 Front St.
  • On the first reference, give people’s complete names, and use only last names for subsequent references.
  • Do not use courtesy titles such as Mr., Mrs., or Miss.
  • If listing a speaker, award winner, or member of an organization, always include the person’s name, title if relevant, and where they live: Sharon Davis, a nurse and resident of Brookline, will be recognized by the Pittsburgh Tree Commission.

General News Release Format

Include at the top or bottom of the first page: the full name of the com-mission or organization; address, city, zip code; contact person phone number and e-mail; and release date—indicate “For Immediate Release” or specific release date (“For Release After May 4, 2003″).

Use an attention-getting, powerful headline in bold print or CAPITAL LETTERS.

Begin with a catchy sentence. Outline the story and provide an overview in the first few sentences.

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