AP Style

Salute your veterans properly. Here’s the AP style you need to know

The AP Stylebook has some interesting information about Veterans Day. For instance, did you know Veterans Day used to be observed on the fourth Monday in October? No matter what day the holiday falls on, here are some key rules to follow when writing about those who have served our country.

Military academies

Capitalize the following academies. Lowercase academy whenever it stands alone. You can drop the ‘U.S.’ if you’d like, but retain the capitalization. EX: She served her country in the Air Force Academy.

  • U.S. Air Force Academy
  • U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  • U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
  • U.S. Military Academy
  • U.S. Naval Academy

Military titles
Did you know that each service brand has its own system of abbreviations for officer and enlisted ranks? These can be quite different from the abbreviations used in AP style.

Take for example the following. COL is used for colonel in the Army, and CMDR for commander in the Navy. But the AP standards use Col. for colonel and Cmdr. for commander. Fortunately, the Department of Defense sticks to AP style in news releases for clarity.

The AP Stylebook provides a long list of military titles along with the abbreviations used in regular text. Here’s a quick run down of the abbreviations as they appear in the 2014 edition.


Commissioned Officers: Gen., Lt. Gen., Maj. Gen. Brig. Gen., Col. Lt. Col., Maj., Capt., 1st Lt., 2nd Lt. (Spell out First Lt. and Second Lt. at the beginning of a sentence)

Warrant Officers: Chief Warrant Officer 5, Chief Warrant Officer 4, Chief Warrant Officer 3, Chief Warrant Officer 2

Enlisted Personnel: Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Command Sgt. Maj., Sgt. Maj., 1st Sgt., Master Sgt. Sgt. 1st Class, Staff Sgt. Sgt. Cpl., Spc., Pfc. (private first class), Pvt.


Commissioned Officers: Adm. (admiral), Vice Adm. Rear Adm., Rear Adm. (rear admiral lower half), Capt., Cmdr., Lt. Comdr., Lt., Lt. j.g., Ensign.

Warrant Officers: Chief Warrant Officer

Enlisted Personnel: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Master Chief Petty Officer, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Chief Petty Officer, Petty Officer 1st Class, Petty Officer 2nd Class, Petty Officer 3rd Class, Seaman, Seaman Apprentice, Seaman Recruit


Ranks and abbreviations for commissioned officers are the same as those in the Army. Warrant officer ratings are the same as in the Navy.

Other: Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj, Master Gunnery Sgt., 1st Sgt., Master Sgt., Gunnery Sgt., Staff Sgt., Sgt., Cpl., Lance Cpl., Pfc., Pvt.


Ranks and abbreviations for commissioned officers are the same as those in the Army.

Other: Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Chief Master Sgt. Senior Master Sgt. Master Sgt., Tech. Sgt., Staff Sgt. Senior Airman, Airman 1st Class, Airman, Airman (airman basic)


Photo by Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise

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