Monday morning a 4.0-magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area a few miles northeast of Oakland, California. Here are some AP style terms to know when reporting on a temblor of the earth’s crust.

  • Earthquakes are registered in magnitude and should be written as either magnitude 5.9 quake or 5.9-magnitude quake.
  • You don’t need to write Richter scale or any other scale. According to the AP Stylebook, the Richter scale is no longer widely used.
  • Temblor is a synonym for earthquake. Tremblor is not. So sayeth AP.
  • Quake, of course, also is acceptable.
  • The main earthquake source is the U.S. Geological Survey. Note the name.
  • According to AP, “The word epicenter refers to the point on Earth’s surface above the underground center, or focus, of an earthquake.”
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