AP Style

Covering the pope visit? Here are AP Style terms to know

Pope Francis touched down in Washington D.C. at Joint Base Andrews on Sept. 22 for his six-day visit to the U.S. During his visit, the pope plans to split his time between Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

The pope’s robust itinerary includes visits to the White House, Capitol, United Nations and World Trade Center, as well as a school and a correctional facility. You can view Francis’ official full schedule online here.

If you’ll be counting yourself among the many journalists to cover Francis’ visit this week, brush up on relevant pope-related AP style terms:

pope – Capitalize when used as a formal title before name, but lowercase in all other uses

religious titles – On first reference to a clergyman or clergywoman, include a capitalized title before the individual’s name; on second reference, use only a last name.

AP Stylebook example: the Rev. Billy Graham on first reference, Graham on second. Pope Francis on first reference; Francis, the pope or the pontiff on second.

nuns – Always use Sister, or Mother if applicable, before a name

Roman Catholic Church – Capitalize full title; lowercase “the church”

bishops – According the the AP Stylebook, the church teaches that its bishops have been established as the successors of the apostles, and hold responsibility for administering the church.

chasuble – the outer vestment worn by the pope at Mass

For advice from a Catholic priest on covering the pope’s visit, this piece on Poynter has insightful tips on what to cover, as well as some of the most common mistakes made by reporters while covering the pope and the Catholic Church.

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