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How to Use AP Style Datelines in Your Writing

You may have heard about writing in AP style or even been directed to do so by a teacher or editor. In fact, a commonly searched grammar question on the web concerns how to use Associated Press–style datelines in writing.

In today’s post we’ll delve into how to do that as well as why you might want to observe AP style.

What Does AP Style Mean?

Before we get started, let’s first clarify what Associated Press (AP) style means.

AP refers to The Associated Press, which is a well-known American nonprofit news agency. In addition to sharing daily international news, the organization produces a style guide, The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, that is followed by journalists and press officers around the world.

First published in 1953, the style guide is widely considered to be an authority on matters of grammar, punctuation, and reporting principles in American journalism. For this reason, many professional writers and editors are at least familiar with AP style.

The guide’s topics and entries aim to help writers compose content that is more clear, consistent, and readable. By referring to it, writers increase the likelihood of keeping their audiences more focused on content and less distracted by discrepancies and wavering style.

Why Would You Want to Write in AP Style?

There are different reasons you might follow The AP Stylebook. Certainly, many writers do so because their school or employer abides by it.

Another incentive to apply AP style is to make your content more likely to be picked up by others. For example, because AP style is so pervasive in journalism, a piece of writing that adheres to it can remove extra work from a newsroom or magazine editor’s day by not requiring changes from a different format.

AP-Style Datelines: What They Are and How to Use Them

Some news stories and press releases include what is referred to as a dateline, which is leading text that begins content by identifying the place and time of the article or press release.

According to AP, the dateline should contain a city name in all capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, country, or territory where the city is located. An em dash with surrounding spaces is included between the dateline and the first line of article content.


PROVO, Utah, January 2023 — Article content here.

Certain well-known cities can stand alone without their state name.


NEW YORK, November 2022 — Article content here.

LONDON, May 2023 — Article content here.

BEIJING, June 2024 — Article content here.

Stories from all other U.S. cities should have both the city and state name in the dateline, including KANSAS CITY, Mo., and KANSAS CITY, Kan. The style guide specifies abbreviations for the states except for AlaskaHawaiiIdahoIowaMaineOhioTexas and Utah, which should be spelled out.


KANSAS CITY, Mo., November 2022 — Article content here.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 2023 — Article content here.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 2024 — Article content here.

If the writer wishes to include a specific date, all months except for March through July would be abbreviated:

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 18, 2022 — Article content here.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 3, 2023 — Article content here.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 6, 2024 — Article content here. 

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