AP Style

Back-to-school AP style terms

It might not feel like it weather-wise depending on where you live in the country, but summer is rapidly drawing to a close. Kids are coming back from camp, last minute family vacations are all well underway and teachers are wrapping up their lesson planning.

We’ve put together a few pointers from the AP Stylebook to make sure your back-to-school coverage gets a A+.

back-to-school Only hyphenated when used as a modifier.

  • “Back-to-school clothing is on sale this weekend.”
  • “After a busy summer, she is ready to go back to school.”

home schoolinghome-schooler Nouns

  • home-school Verb
  • home-schooled Adjective

Capitalize “school” when part of a proper name, otherwise it is lowercase.

  • “She went to Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas.”
  • “He went to a high school in Fort Worth, Texas.”
  • Note that when referencing specific public schools, capitalize and use a figure. “She taught English at Public School 5 before moving to Public School 7 to teach music.”

Grades should be written using standard AP rules for numbers. Grades 10 and above should be written using figures and spelled out for first through ninth grades.

  • “He was nervous about starting the 12th grade, but not as nervous as he was when he started the sixth grade.”
  • Regular hyphenation rules apply. “She was in the fifth grade.” “He was a sixth-grader.”


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