The AP Stylebook holds that great care must be exercised when using this word. Below are general guidelines to follow when using the word in AP Style,
- Avoid any suggestion that the writing is making an allegation.
- Specify the source of an allegation. In a criminal case, it should be an arrest record, an indictment or the statement of a public official connected with the case.
- Use “alleged bribe” or similar phrase when necessary to make it clear that an unproved action is not be treated as fact. Be sure that the source of the charge is specified elsewhere in the story.
- You should avoid redundant used of alleged. For example,
- Correct: The district attorney alleged that she took a bribe.
- Correct: The district attorney accused her of taking a bribe.
- Wrong: The district attorney accused her of allegedly taking a bribe.
- Do not use “alleged” to describe an event that is known to have occurred when the dispute is over who participated in it. For example,
- Wrong: He attended the alleged meeting.
- Correct: He allegedly attended the meeting.
- Do not use “alleged” as a routine qualifier. Instead, use a word such as “apparent,” “ostensible,” or “reputed.”
Also see pages on guidelines related to using accused, arrest, and indict.