August 10, 2011 / 3:15 PM / 8 years ago

AP Releases Style Guide for 9/11

The AP has issued a style and reference guide for reporters to follow when writing about 9/11 and the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Many of the terms already appear in the AP Stylebook, but the organization thought it prudent to compile a complete list of words, phrases and proper names to help journalists develop consistency of coverage over the final month leading up to September 11, 2011.

As you might expect from the standard-bearer, the guide does contain a hint of imperiousness, as when it chides those journalists who might be considering conjuring up their own terms:

"Do not make up names, however. There is no Boston Airport, for example. The Boston airport (lowercase airport) would be acceptable if for some reason the proper name, Logan International Airport, were not used."

But in general, it's a handy reference manual, albeit a sobering one, complete with pronunciations of the terrorists' names, descriptions of various agencies and a timeline of 9/11 events. Here's the official memo from the AP.

BC-US–Sept 11-Style And Reference Guide, Advisory

Sept. 11 Style and Reference Guide


To help with standard phrasing and consistency of coverage of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Associated Press has compiled a Sept. 11 Style and Reference Guide. A few of the items are included in the AP Stylebook, but the majority are based on AP usage that has developed over time. As you’ll see, it includes guidance on spelling, pronunciation, frequently used terms and a timeline of events as they unfolded.

The AP


The Associated Press_Sept. 11 Style and Reference Guide

airline, airlines_Capitalize airlines, air lines and airways when used as part of a proper airline name. American Airlines, United Airlines.

airport_Capitalize as part of a proper name: LaGuardia Airport, O’Hare International Airport.

The first name of an individual and the word international may be deleted from a formal airport name while the remainder is capitalized: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Kennedy International Airport, or Kennedy Airport. Use whichever is appropriate in the context.

Do not make up names, however. There is no Boston Airport, for example. The Boston airport (lowercase airport) would be acceptable if for some reason the proper name, Logan International Airport, were not used.

Newark International Airport was renamed Newark Liberty International Airport after Sept. 11.

al-Qaida_Headed by Osama bin Laden until his death by U.S. forces in Pakistan in May 2011. Pronounced al-KY’-ee-duh.

bin Laden, Osama_Use bin Laden in all references except at the start of a sentence. It is the family preference for the last name, which is an exception to the general rule on Arabic names. He founded al-Qaida and was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in May 2011. Pronounced oh-SAH’-muh bin LAH’-din.

Flight 93_Acceptable in first reference for United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pa. Include airline name and context of crash in subsequent references. Flight 93 memorial is acceptable in all references for the Flight 93 National Memorial at the crash site.

ground zero_Acceptable term for the World Trade Center site.

hijackers_The flights they hijacked, where the planes crashed, their full names, their names on second reference and their pronunciation. Note that in Arabic, stressed syllables don’t tend to be stressed hard.

American Airlines Flight 11 (World Trade Center’s north tower): Mohamed Atta (Atta), moh-HAM’-ad AT’-ta; Wail Alshehri (Alshehri), WAH’-eyel ahl SHEH’-ree; Waleed M. Alshehri (Alshehri), WAH’-leed ahl SHEH’-ree; Abdulaziz Alomari (Alomari), ab-dool-ah-ZEEZ’ ahl ohm-AR’-ee; Satam al-Suqami (al-Suqami), sah-TAHM’ ahl soo-KAHM’-ee.

United Flight 175 (World Trade Center’s south tower): Marwan al-Shehhi (al-Shehhi), mar-WAHN’ ahl SHEH’-hee; Fayez Ahmed (Ahmed), FEYE’-ez AH’-med; Ahmed Alghamdi (Alghamdi), AH’-med ahl HAHM’-ed-ee; Hamza Alghamdi (Alghamdi), HAHM’-zeh ahl HAHM’-ed-ee; Mohand Alshehri (Alshehri); moh-HAHN’-ed ahl SHE’-ree.

American Airlines Flight 77 (Pentagon): Hani Hanjour (Hanjour); hah-nee han-joor; Khalid Almihdhar (Almihdhar), KHAL’-led al-meh-DAHR’; Majed Moqed (Moqed), MAH’-jed moo-KED’; Nawaf Alhamzi (Alhamzi) nuh-WEHF’ ahl ham-ZEE’; Salem Alhamzi (Alhamzi), sah-LEEM’ ahl ham-ZEE’.

United Airlines Flight 93 (Pennsylvania): Ziad Samir Jarrah (Jarrah), ZEYE’-ed suh-MEER’ jer-RAH’; Saeed Alghamdi (Alghamdi); SAH’-eed ahl HAHM’-ed-ee; Ahmed Alhaznawi (Alhaznawi); AH’-med ahl HAS’-nuh-wee; Ahmed Alnami (Alnami), AH’-med ahl NAH’-mee.

Lower Manhattan Development Corp._Use in first reference for the agency created to help New York recover from the Sept. 11 attacks. Rebuilding agency or the agency are acceptable in subsequent references.

9/11_Acceptable in all references to describe the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Not 9-11 or 911.

9/11 Commission_Acceptable in all references for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

1 World Trade Center_The official name of the skyscraper being built on the World Trade Center site. Formerly known as the Freedom Tower.

Pentagon_The headquarters of the Department of Defense, struck by American Airlines Flight 77. Located in Arlington, Va.

Sept. 11_The term for describing the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Use 2001 if needed for clarity. Also acceptable is 9/11.

Sept. 11 memorial_Acceptable in all references to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at ground zero. Add location for clarity if story references other memorials with similar names.

twin towers_Lowercase this popular term for referring to the two tallest buildings in the World Trade Center complex. Also lowercase north tower and south tower.

victims_The Sept. 11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people:__ 2,753 in New York. Includes three later deaths from respiratory disease that have since been linked to illnesses caused by the towers’ collapse.__ 40 in Pennsylvania.__ 184 at the Pentagon.__ Total: 2,977 as of July 25, 2011.__ 2,983 names will be listed on the Sept. 11 memorial, including six who died in the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing.

World Trade Center_Name of the seven-building complex in lower Manhattan destroyed on Sept. 11; trade center and trade center site (lowercase) are acceptable in later references. WTC or WTC site are acceptable shorthand in headlines.


8 a.m. EDT _ American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people on board, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport for Los Angeles.

8:14 a.m. _ United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people on board, takes off from Logan for Los Angeles.

8:21 a.m. _ American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 with 64 people on board, takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles.

8:40 a.m. _ Federal Aviation Administration notifies North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Northeast Air Defense Sector about suspected hijacking of American Flight 11.

8:41 a.m. _ United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people on board, takes off from Newark International Airport for San Francisco.

8:43 a.m. _ FAA notifies NORAD about suspected hijacking of United Flight 175.

8:46 a.m. _ American Flight 11 crashes into north tower of World Trade Center.

9:03 a.m. _ United Flight 175 crashes into south tower.

9:08 a.m. _ FAA bans all takeoffs nationwide for flights going to or through its New York Center airspace.

9:21 a.m. _ All bridges and tunnels into Manhattan are closed.

9:24 a.m. _ FAA notifies NORAD about suspected hijacking of American Flight 77.

9:26 a.m. _ FAA bans takeoffs of all civilian aircraft.

9:31 a.m. _ President Bush, in Florida, calls crashes an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

9:40 a.m. _ American Flight 77 crashes into Pentagon.

9:45 a.m. _ FAA orders all aircraft to land at nearest airport as soon as practical. More than 4,500 aircraft are in air at the time.

9:48 a.m. _ U.S. Capitol and White House’s West Wing evacuated.

9:59 a.m. _ South tower of trade center collapses.

10:07 a.m. (approx.) _ United Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania field.

10:28 a.m. _ North tower of trade center collapses.

11:00 a.m. _ New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders evacuation of lower Manhattan.

1:04 p.m. _ Bush, at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana, announces U.S. military on high alert worldwide.

2:51 p.m. _ Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York, Washington.

3:07 p.m. _ Bush arrives at Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

5:25 p.m. _ Empty 47-story 7 World Trade Center collapses. Related Articles:  7 Reasons to Lowercase 'Internet'

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