AP Style

AP Stylebook rules for height, feet, inches

When I came across a story the other day that referred to a young girl’s height, I realized that this is a format that I have not looked up in the AP Stylebook for some time –– and now is a great time to brush up on it.

Actually, when searching for “height” in the AP Stylebook, it refers me to the “dimensions” entry –– OK, sure, why not get an all-round recap on things like depth, height, length, inches and width.

First rule in the entry says: Always spell out measurements –– inches, feet, yards … gallons, ounces, pounds … etc.

Rule No. 2: Always use figures before the measurement –– 8 inches, 10 feet, 2 ounces, 200 pounds, etc.

*Use a hyphen for the adjectival forms before nouns: the 10-foot line, the 2-ounce cookie, the 200-pound dog, etc.

Now here’s the part I’ve been waiting for –– height!

Rule No. 3: We don’t need hyphens when you are describing someone’s height, but you do need them in the adjectival forms, like mentioned above.

There is also no need for commas between the feet and inches when describing height.

i.e.

– He is 6 feet 2 inches tall, but he doesn’t play basketball.

– The 5-foot-6-inch girl still wears high heels.

– The 3-foot man appears in many movies.

* Only use the apostrophe to indicate feet and quote marks to indicate inches (5’6″) in very technical contexts, says the AP Stylebook.

Rule No. 4: When introducing width and length to the equation, then commas are needed.

i.e.

– The boat is 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and 75 feet high.

You can use hyphens are this point in time to shorten this sentence:

– The boat is 30 feet by 15 feet.

– The 30-by-15 boat.

– The 30-by-15-by-75-foot boat.

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