Datelines on stories should contain a city name, entirely in capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, county, or territory where the city is located.
Some cities are so widely known that they are capable of standing alone in a dateline, without the name of a state for additional reference. A list of domestic cities that stand alone in datelines follows. The norms that influenced the selection were the population of the city, the population of its metropolitan region, the frequency of the city’s appearance in the news, the uniqueness of its name, and experience that has shown the name to be almost synonymous with the state of nation where it is located.
- LAS VEGAS
- LOS ANGELES
- NEW ORLEANS
- NEW YORK
- OKLAHOMA CITY
- ST. LOUIS
- SALT LAKE CITY
- SAN ANTONIO
- SAN DIEGO
- SAN FRANCISCO
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. For example,
- ANN ARBOR, Mich.
- SACRAMENTO, Calif.
You should always spell out Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. Abbreviate all other states as they are listed on our AP Style State Abbreviations page.
Use “Hawaii” on all cities outside Honolulu. Specify the island in the text if needed.
Follow this same practice for communities on islands within the boundaries of other states. For example,
- EDGARTOWN, Mass.
- EDGARTOWN, Martha’s Vineyard.
Use “BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.” It’s an incorporated city and the dateline for the Golden Globes movie awards, sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
On state wires, additional cities in a state or region may stand alone if requested by the newspapers served.
Apply the guidelines listed below in the Island Nations and Territories section and the Overseas Territories section.
These international locations stand alone in datelines,
- GUATEMALA CITY
- HONG KONG
- MEXICO CITY
- NEW DELHI
- PANAMA CITY
- QUEBEC CITY
- RIO DE JANEIRO
- SAN MARINO
- SAO PAULO
- KUWAIT CITY
- VATICAN CITY
In addition, use UNITED NATIONS alone, without a N.Y. designation, in stories from U.N. headquarters.
With the independence of Montenegro from Serbia-Montenegro formalized in 2006, use a Montenegro-only dateline, such as “PODGORICA, Montenegro.” Stories originating in Serbia carry a Serbia-only dateline, “BELIGRADE, Serbia.” With the independence of Kosovo in 2008, use Kosovo in the dateline, such as “PRISTINA, Kosovo.”
Datelines on stories from Canadian cities other than Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto should contain the name of the city in capital letters followed by the name of the province. Do not abbreviate any province or territory name.
Commonwealth of Independent States
For cities in the former Soviet Union, datelines include city and republic name: “ALMATY, Kazakhstan.”
Stories from other international cities that do not stand alone in datelines should contain the name of the country or territory (see the next section) spelled out.
Spelling and Choice of Names
In most cases, the name of the nation in a dateline is the conventionally accepted short form of its official name. For example, “Argentina” for the “Republic of Argentina.” (If in doubt, look for an entry in this book. If none is found, follow Webster’s New World College Dictionary.)
Note the following special cases,
- Instead of “United Kingdom,” use England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales.
- For divided nations, use the commonly accepted names based on geographic distinctions: North Korea, South Korea.
- Use an article only with El Salvador. For all others, use just a country name: Gambia, Netherlands, Philippines, etc.
- See geographic names page for guidelines on spelling the names of international cities and nations not listed here or in separate entries.
Island Nations and Territories
When reporting from nations and territories that are made up primarily of islands but commonly are linked under one name, use the city name and the general name in the dateline. Indentify an individual island, if needed, in the text. For example,
- British Virgin Islands
- Netherlands Antilles
Some overseas territories, colonies, and other areas that are not independent nations commonly have accepted separate identities based on their geographic character or special status under treaties. In these cases, use the commonly accepted territory name after a city name in a dateline. For example,
- Faeroe Islands
- Puerto Rico
In citing other cities within the body of a story, use the following guidelines.
- No further information is necessary if a city is in the same state as the datelined city. Make an exception only if confusion would result.
- Follow the city name with further identification in most cases where it is not in the same state or nation as the dateline city. The additional identification may be omitted, however, if no confusion would result. There is no need, for example, to refer to “Boston, Mass.” in a story datelined NEW YORK.
- Provide a state or nation identification for the city if the story has no dateline. However, cities may be used alone in undated stories if no confusion would result.