NAB conforms with The Associated Press Stylebook. The AP Stylebook is accessible online at If you have any questions, please contact the Marketing department.

Common Grammatical Errors

Accept vs. except:
Accept: to receive Example: Joe Doe accepted the PAC contribution.

Except: to exclude Example: Every member of Congress received an NABPAC contribution except those who are retiring.

Abbreviate the words street, avenue and boulevard (think S-A-B), but only if they appear after a numbered address. Also abbreviate compass directions, but only if they appear with a numbered address. Example: 50 S. Court St., but if you leave off the house number, you’d write South Court Street.

Never abbreviate drive, highway, place or any of the other words that might follow an actual street name such as Court, Union, Ventura, Lombard, Pennsylvania, etc. When included in correspondence or publication text, no abbreviations should be used.

Affect vs. effect:
Affect: as a verb, to influence.
Example: The game will affect the league’s standings.

Effect: as a verb, to cause.
Example: He will effect many changes within the company’s structure.

Effect: as a noun, a result.
Examples: The effect was overwhelming. He miscalculated the effect of his actions. It was a law of little effect.

Age, aged, at the age of:
Always use figures. When the context does not require years or years old, the figure is presumed to be years.

Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun are hyphenated.

Examples: A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old. The boy, 7, has a sister, 10. The woman, 26, has a daughter 2 months old. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe). I don’t plan to retire at the age of 65.

Capital vs. Capitol:

Capital: a city where a seat of government is located. No capitalization.
Example: Do you know where the capital of Colorado is located?

Capitol: a building — capitalize the U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building.
Examples: The meeting was held on Capitol Hill in the Capitol.

The same rule applies when referring to state Capitol buildings.
Examples: The Virginia Capitol is in Richmond. Jefferson designed the Capitol of Virginia.

Co- :
Sometimes it’s followed by a hyphen, and sometimes it’s not. When the prefix is part of a word indicating occupation, hyphenate, as in co-worker, co-owner. There are no hyphens when the letter “o” is doubled, as is cooperate and coordinate.

Compared to vs. compared with:
Use “compare… to” when the intent is to assert, without need for elaboration, that two or more items are similar. Example: She compared her work for women’s rights to Susan B. Anthony’s campaign for suffrage.

Used “compared with” when juxtaposing two or more items to illustrate similarities and/or differences. Example: His marathon time was 2:11:10, compared with 2:14 for his closest competitor.

Complement vs. compliment:
Complement: a noun and a verb denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something. Examples: The ship has a complement of 200 sailors and 20 officers. The tie complements his suit.

Compliment: a noun or verb that denotes praise or the expression of courtesy. Examples: The captain complimented his crew. She was flattered by the compliments on her outfit.

Congressional districts:
Use figures and capitalize District when joined with a figure. Lowercase district whenever it stands alone. Examples: the 1st Congressional District, the 1st District.

There is no hyphen in the word cosponsor. Example: NAB applauds members of the U.S. House for cosponsoring satellite radio accountability legislation.

Use figures for all numbers that indicate height, weight, width, etc., even for numbers less than 10. Example: The book weighs 2 pounds.

Directions and regions:
Capitalize words such as North and South if they refer to places you can stand and say, “I am standing in the -------.” That means they are nouns referring to regions, and AP says capitalize them as such. When referring to compass directions, such as “I am walking north,” lower case them.

Used to mean one or the other, not both. Right: She said to use either door. Wrong: There were lions on either side of the door.

Ensure vs. insure:
Use ensure to mean guarantee. Example: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy.

Use insure for references to insurance. Example: the policy insures his home.

Every one vs. everyone:
Two words when it means each individual item. Example: Every one of the clues was correct.

One word when used as a pronoun meaning all persons. Example: Everyone wants his life to be happy. Note: everyone takes singular verbs and pronouns.

Eye to eye vs. eye-to-eye:
Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. Example: an eye-to-eye confrontation.

Fewer vs. less:
Use fewer for things that you can count. Example: I have fewer quarters than you do. (You can count, “One quarter, two quarters, three quarters.”)

Use less for things you cannot count. Example: I have less cash than you do. (You don’t say, “One cash, two cash, three cash.”)

Good vs. well:
Good is an adjective that means something is as it should be or better than average. Good should not be used as an adverb. Example: Mary always got good grades in high school.

When used as an adjective, well means suitable, proper, healthy. When used as an adverb, well means in a satisfactory manner or skillfully. Example: I will do the job as well as I can.

Example: Chris maintains a listserv for his daily emails.

Login, logon, logoff:
Used as a noun, but in verb form, use as two words. Examples: My logon information is private. I can log in from home to the network.

Do not precede it with a comma unless the comma is part of the proper name of a publication or business.

Its vs. it’s:
It’s is a contraction for it is or it has. Examples: It’s up to you. It’s been a long time.

Its is the possessive form. Example: The company lost its assets.

Lay vs. lie:
Lay in the present tense requires an object; in other words, you can only “lay” something. Example: I lay the book on the table.

In the past tense, lay becomes laid. Examples: I laid the book on the table yesterday.

Lie in the present tense means recline on a horizontal plane. Example: Now it lies there.

In the past tense, lie becomes lay. Example: It lay there for several hours before my brother picked it up.

Like vs. as:
Use like as a preposition to compare nouns and pronouns. Example: Jim blocks like a pro.

The conjunction as is the correct word to introduce clauses. Example: Jim blocks the linebacker as he should.

Majority vs. plurality:
A majority is at least a bit more than 50 percent. A plurality is the largest percentage of something that is divided at least three (or more) ways, and yet is below 50 percent. Example: If Ronald Reagan wins 48 percent of the vote, Jimmy Carter wins 44 percent of the vote, and John Anderson wins 6 percent of the vote, then Reagan has a plurality, not a majority.

On, onto, on to:
On is a preposition that implies movement over. Example: It’s dangerous to drive on the shoulder.

Onto is a preposition that implies movement toward and then over. Example: He lost control of the car and drove onto the sidewalk.

Go on and runs on are verb phrases followed by the preposition to. Example: Let’s go on to the next question, which runs on to the next page.

Capitalize president only as a formal title before one or more names. Examples: President Reagan, Presidents Ford and Carter.

Lowercase in all other uses. Examples: The president gave his address today. He is running for president. Lincoln was president during the Civil War.

Principal vs. principle:
Principal is a noun and adjective meaning someone or something first in rank, authority, importance or degree. Examples: She is the school principal. He was the principal player in the trade. Money is the principal problem.

Principle is a noun that means a fundamental truth, law, doctrine or motivating force. Example: They fought for the principle of self determination.

Reluctant vs. reticent:
Reluctant means unwilling to act. Example: He is reluctant to enter the race.

Reticent means unwilling to speak. Example: The candidate’s husband is reticent.

Stationary vs. stationery:
Use stationary when referring to an object as standing still or motionless. Example: The oak tree remained stationary throughout the storm.

The word stationery is a synonym for writing paper. Example: I used my best stationery to write a letter.

That vs. which:
Use that and which for inanimate objects.

That is ordinarily used to introduce essential clauses. Note: an essential clause cannot be eliminated from a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. Example: The report that I sent you last week should help. That introduces the essential clause.

Which is always used to introduce nonessential clauses. Example: Laura’s report on employee benefits, which I sent you last week, should be of some help. Which introduces the nonessential clause, and it is always preceded by a comma.

Who vs. that:
Who refers to people. That refers to groups or things. Examples: Anya is the one who rescued the bird. Lola is on the team that won first place.

Who vs. whom:
Use who and whom for references to humans and animals.

Who is the word when someone is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase. Use who whenever he, she, they, I or we can be substituted in the who clause. Whoever is the plural form. Examples: Who shall I say is calling? He is calling. The matter of who should pay was not decided. He should pay. Whoever wins the primary will win the election. She wins the primary.

Whom is the word when someone is the object of a verb or preposition. Use whom whenever him, her, them, me, or us could be replaced as the object of the verb or preposition. Whomever is the plural form. Examples: To whom were you talking? You were talking to him. Whomever you designate will get the promotion. You designate her. Steve is the person whom we all thought the committee would nominate. We all thought the committee would nominate him.

Who’s vs. whose:
Who’s is a contraction for who is, not a possessive. Example: Who’s there? Whose is the possessive. Example: I do not know whose coat this is.

Whoever vs. who ever vs. whomever:
Examples: Whoever made such a statement should be reprimanded. Who ever made such a statement? Ever is an adverb in this instance.

Use the “ever” suffix when who or whom can fit into two clauses in the sentence. Examples: Give it to whoever asks for it first. Give it to him. He asks for it first.

Because we can substitute him and he in both clauses, we must use the ever suffix. To determine whether to use whoever or whomever, here is the rule:

He + him = whoever

Him + him = whomever

Examples: We will hire whomever you recommend. We will hire him. You recommend him. (him + him = whomever). We will hire whoever is most qualified. We will hire him. He is most qualified. (him + he = whoever).

Common Spanish Errors

We are usually referring to the broadcast industry rather than an individual transmission. Use words for “broadcasting.”

Broadcast programming:
“programas de difusión.”

Avoid using “radiodufisión” as an umbrella term. “Radiodufisión” may refer to radio broadcasting and “teledifusión” to television broadcasting. To refer to both use “difusión.”

Make sure to refer to companies or stations (empresas, estaciones) when relevant, rather than journalists, anchors or personalities (periodistas, personalidades).

Use “spectrum” or “ondas de radio” – never “espectro.”