Style Book

Like many other news organizations, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has its own Stylebook—an alphabetized manual on spelling and usage that covers everything from how to refer to Pittsburgh City Council and local municipalities, to the difference between nauseous and nauseated.

We are pleased to share our Stylebook with the public on the Post-Gazette's website. Whether you are a journalism student, grammar fanatic or simply a curious reader, we invite you to check out our entries, which we will periodically update as we add new or revised information.

For starters, you may want to check out the Post-Gazette's lists of universities and hospitals; our rules on courtesy titles before people's names; and our guidelines on language, including our policy on puns and our rule on racial references.

As Executive Editor David Shribman says, we believe that good writing is not just a matter of mechanics, but of style. "Many aspects of our society and culture have changed," he writes, "but this has remained stubbornly true: A thing beautifully said is a beautiful thing."


acronyms and abbreviations, possessives

Add an apostrophe and s to acronyms ending in s: CBS's budget, PBS’s best program.

abortion, adjectives

Abortion rights and anti-abortion are the preferred usages. Pro-choice and pro-life are not acceptable, unless they are part of an organization's title or part of a quote. Activists on this issue should be referred to as supporters or opponents of abortion rights. Fetus, not baby, will be used when referring to the embryo that a woman, not a mother, carries during pregnancy.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

This pretrial diversionary program in the state's criminal court system offers defendants an alternative to going to trial. The individual is placed on probation and serves six months to two years. Once the program is completed successfully, the charge is dismissed and the record expunged. ARD is acceptable on second reference and in headlines.


Formerly ARC Allegheny, this organization is Western Pennsylvania's largest provider of comprehensive services and support for children and adults with disabilities and their families.


Can be used interchangeably with black as an adjective or noun describing black Americans. Be careful that the term properly describes the people in question (for instance, do not use with African immigrants or black immigrants from the Caribbean or South America).

Exception: August Wilson Center for African American Culture

African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal

These are Methodist denominations. Follow the Protestant style for designation of ministers in these churches.

Airport Expressway

The portion of Route 60 between its two junctions with Business Route 60 on opposite sides of Pittsburgh International Airport. Soon to be redesignated as part of Interstate 376.


See Allegheny County Sanitary Authority.

Aliquippa and similar names

Aliquippa, Beaver County
Allequippa Street, Hill District, Pittsburgh
Queen Aliquippa or Allequippa (Indian queen; no consensus)

alleged, allegedly

These words are of little help in shielding a newspaper from legal liability. Where it is necessary to make it clear that what is being charged has not yet been proved, it is better to rewrite the sentence to convey that. The same applies to reputedly, supposed, supposedly and suspected. (Differs from AP Stylebook.)

Allegheny and similar names


Allegheny — Allegheny County, Pa.
Allegany — Maryland and New York
Alleghany — Virginia and North Carolina
Port Allegany — McKean County, Pa.

Allegheny Conference on Community Development

Founded in 1943, this is an influential private, nonprofit organization of civic and corporate leaders. Its stated purpose is to improve the region as a place to live, work and raise families. It is involved in community improvement programs affecting the economy, employment, the quality of life, public improvements and public education. On second reference, the Allegheny Conference or the conference.

Allegheny County Executive

The word chief is no longer part of the executive's formal title. Executive should be capitalized if it comes before the person's name. The county should be named on the first reference in a story.

Allegheny County Council

Made up of 15 members, 13 of whom are elected by district and two at large. By law, the at-large members are from separate political parties. Allegheny County Council on first reference, county council or the council on second.

Allegheny County Police Department

Department is optional in all usages. Capitalize Police only when using Department.

Allegheny County Sanitary Authority

The authority provides sanitary sewer service to the City of Pittsburgh and 82 other Allegheny County municipalities, plus parts of communities in Washington and Westmoreland counties. Chartered by the state, it has board members from both the county and Pittsburgh and is not a part of county government. Use the full name on first reference, Alcosan elsewhere and in headlines.


Stands alone. No longer referred to as American Association of Retired Persons.


Spell out when necessary. The letters stand for African Methodist Episcopal. See African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal.


See Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.

Army Corps of Engineers

Correct on first reference; omit U.S. Use the corps on second reference.

assessed value

See real estate tax.


Can stand alone. Originally an abbreviation for automated teller machine.

August Wilson Center for African American Culture

Authority for Improvements in Municipalities

A county authority that provides loans and other financial help to communities for a variety of projects, ranging from sewer improvements to cleaning up of roads after mudslides. On second reference, the authority; avoid AIM even in headlines.

automatic (firearms)

An automatic weapon will fire bursts and, in most cases, single shots. A semiautomatic weapon will fire single shots, one with each squeeze of the trigger.

awards, athletic

Capitalize them for clarity: Hinkle was the Most Valuable Player; Simpson won the Heisman Trophy. Capitalize award only where it is part of the name: Cy Young Award but Rookie of the Year award.



The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure and the rules of the Criminal Division of Common Pleas Court provide for three kinds of bail and give judges criteria for deciding which to set in a particular case. The three kinds are:

Beaver County Central Court

See Judiciary guidelines.

Beaver Valley I, Beaver Valley II

Nuclear power plants.

Benedum Center for the Performing Arts

Benedum Center is sufficient in all uses.


Bids are sought, not awarded. Contracts are awarded.

bio boxes

The preferred format is given below. Use outline form instead of complete sentences. Note the style on education—degree, school and date of degree, in that order. Omit salary, marital status and children. A bio box should account for each stage in the subject's life.

Luke Ravenstahl.
Age: 29.
Residence: Summer Hill.
Position: Mayor of Pittsburgh; Democratic candidate running for re-election with both Democratic and Republican nominations.
Education: Bachelor of arts degree, Washington & Jefferson College, 2003.
Background: City councilman, 2004-06; mayor, 2006-present; one-time columnist on Steeler fandom for Sports Illustrated.

black, blacks

Avoid describing an individual as a black. If racial designation is useful, use it as an adjective. Also avoid blacks as a group description. See African-American.


Avoid where the meaning is denounce or criticize.

blood alcohol level

No hyphen. Use this form or something similar: County police said Smith registered 0.36 in a blood alcohol test. A driver registering 0.08 is legally intoxicated.

The figure derived from either a blood test or by a breath test refers to the milligrams of alcohol in a milliliter of blood. A level of 0.08 means there is eight hundredths of a milligram of alcohol in every milliliter of blood. Since a milligram is a unit of weight and a milliliter a unit of volume, the figure is not a percentage.

Bluff, the

Capitalize. An informal name for the Duquesne University campus, which sits above the Parkway East.

Board of Assistance, Allegheny County

See Public Welfare, state Department of.

Board of Probation and Parole

The state board that rules on parole applications.

Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review

On second reference to this county government body, use the assessment board.


Do not use as part of a municipality's name. The car was towed to a garage in Plum. See township.


See parenthetical material in quotes.

Bradford Woods

Bradford Woods is the borough; Bradfordwoods is the postal region.


A trademark for a brand of breath analyzer.


Broadhead Manor housing development
Broadhead-Fording Road
Brodhead Road — Correct spelling for both the Moon and the Beaver County sections. Named for Gen. Daniel Brodhead.

Brunots Island

No apostrophe.


Acceptable slang for the Pittsburgh Pirates in some headlines but should not be used in stories. Avoid Buccos.

Building Inspection, Bureau of

Part of the city Public Safety Department. Inspections is incorrect.

bullets, in typography

Bulleted phrases or sentences in stories should end in periods.

Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement

Part of the Pennsylvania State Police.


Use the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway on first reference. South Busway and West Busway are also permissible for those busway segments.

bylines, multiple

Up to three staff writers' names are permissible in a byline. When more than three staffers make significant contributions, the story should begin with an italic precede that follows this form: This story was written by Post-Gazette staff writer John Doe, with reporting (or additional reporting) by staff writers Mary Roe, Jane Schmoe and Ralph Waldoe. Or: This story was written by Post-Gazette staff writers John Doe, Mary Roe, Jane Schmoe and Ralph Waldoe.

Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh

An Eastern Catholic Church headquartered in Pittsburgh. It is governed by the equivalent of an archbishop, but his title is Metropolitan: Metropolitan Basil Schott, Metropolitan Basil (Eastern Catholics follow the Orthodox practice of using first names only for bishops). Its territory overlaps many Latin Catholic dioceses, and stretches from Pittsburgh to Texas. See Eastern Catholics.


care homes

Differentiate as follows:

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Commonly called the Carnegie, with a lowercase the. Its components are:

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

The city's public library, it is separate from the Carnegie Institute but shares some services and trustees.

Carnegie Mellon University

Use on first reference. On later reference, use Carnegie Mellon or CMU.

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese is equally acceptable. On second reference, the Pittsburgh Diocese or the diocese. Includes Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties. The Catholic Diocese of Greensburg includes Westmoreland, Armstrong, Fayette and Indiana counties.

cell phone

census areas

The U.S. Census bureau reports now use Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Micropolitan Statistical Areas (for smaller municipal regions). The Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area no longer exists.

The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area comprises these counties:


Pittsburgh MSA is acceptable on second reference.

Central Northside Neighborhood Council

Northside is one word.

Chalfant, Chalfont, Chalfonte

Chalfant is a borough in Allegheny County; Chalfont is in Bucks County. There are Chalfant streets in Chalfant, Whitaker and Wilkinsburg, a Chalfont Street in Pittsburgh's Beltzhoover section and a Chalfonte Avenue in West View.

Children, Youth and Families, Office of

No ampersand in the name of this county agency. CYF is acceptable on second reference.

church names

Include the denomination of a church in first reference; e.g. St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, St. Stephen Greek Catholic Church, St. Michael's Episcopal Church. If the religious affiliation is not clear by the name, it should be incorporated in the body of the text.


Official abbreviation for the city Department of Parks and Recreation. Optional. When it is used in a story or headline, the full title should appear on the first or second reference in copy.

City Council districts, Pittsburgh

Our style is, e.g., District 6, not the 6th District.

City-County Building

Stands alone; no need to name the city or the county.

civil court

Lowercase. See Judiciary guidelines.

Clemente Park

Suffices in most references to Roberto Clemente Memorial Park on the North Shore.

closing arguments

See opening statements.


Acceptable as a second reference to Carnegie Mellon University.

coined verbs

In some cases coinages of verbs from nouns have become accepted: the couple vacationed; the family picnicked; the home was burglarized. However, some verb forms such as to impact are still not considered good usage. If in doubt, consult the dictionary.

college names

See separate items on Penn State University and Pittsburgh, University of. Sports has separate rules, where Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and IUP are acceptable on first reference.

Other local colleges and universities include:

Carlow University
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU is acceptable on second reference)
Chatham University
Duquesne University
La Roche College
Point Park University
Robert Morris University

Others in Western Pennsylvania include:

Allegheny College in Meadville, Crawford County
Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, Crawford County
Gannon University in Erie, Erie County
Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Beaver County
Grove City College in Grove City, Mercer County
Mercyhurst College in Erie, Erie County
Saint Francis University in Loretto, Cambria County
Saint Vincent College in Unity Township, Westmoreland County
Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Westmoreland County
Thiel College in Greenville, Mercer County
Villa Maria College in Erie, Erie County
Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Washington County (W&J can be used on second reference).
Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Greene County
Westminster College in New Wilmington, Lawrence County


Lowercase when referring to style of furniture or houses.

commas, use of with hometown or neighborhood

No commas are needed to set off a hometown in an initial personal reference: Jim Smith of Ross travels on McKnight Road. But when the hometown is placed after a second or subsequent reference, insert commas: Jim Jones is an Etna policeman. Jones, of Millvale, is a crack shot.


Do not capitalize in references to Pennsylvania. In a report of a criminal trial, the prosecution is ordinarily clearer than the commonwealth.

community colleges

They are generally financed one-third by the state, one-third by student tuition and one-third from other sources, generally county taxes. Abbreviations suffice on second reference and in headlines. Those in the six-county area include:


In a civil lawsuit, the official name for the document filed by the plaintiff's lawyer.

compound modifiers

See hyphen, in compound modifiers


Avoid as slang.

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

A diocesan program responsible for the religious formation of Catholic children and adolescents who attend public schools. The term is now considered archaic, and Catholic church leaders usually use the phrase "religious education." On second reference, the CCD or the confraternity.

Consol Energy Inc.

Formerly the Consolidation Coal Co. The company uses all caps on the word Consol, but we do not. Consol is acceptable on second reference.

contracts, educational

When teachers are working under an expired contract, stories should say that; they are not working without a contract. Once an agreement is reached, it is a proposed agreement or a proposed settlement or a tentative agreement or a tentative settlement, but it is not a tentative contract.

Corrections, Department of

Its head, the commissioner of corrections, is a member of the governor's cabinet. See State prison names.

counties, identifying cities by

The Post-Gazette will no longer require cities in Pennsylvania outside our circulation area to be identified by county. These cities can be identified either by their proximity to a well-known location or by the area of the state—e.g., Waterford, near Erie, or Emporium, in north central Pennsylvania. Cities inside our circulation area also do not need to be identified by county unless it is relevant to the story, as in: Glyde is one of several Washington County communities that serve coal in school breakfasts.

country music

No capital. The same rule applies to the older country-western music.

courtesy titles

The following rules apply to every editorial department except Sports, and to all Magazine references except for stage names or specialized columns such as those on celebrity gossip. They also apply to people cited in letters to the editor, op-ed columns and local columns.


Add in note form after an unusual spelling or term to indicate that it is correct.

Crime Victims Compensation Board

No apostrophe. A Pennsylvania state agency.

criminal conspiracy

The adjective is superfluous unless the story also mentions civil conspiracy.

criminal court

Lowercase. See Judiciary guidelines.

criminal homicide

The adjective is superfluous unless the story also mentions justifiable homicide.

Crime Stoppers

The Pittsburgh area comes under both Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers Inc. and Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers Inc.

currently, presently

Currently refers to something that is happening now. Presently means something that is about to happen.

cutlines, wording

A cutline should use the same terms as the accompanying story, avoiding nicknames for individuals and informal common-usage names of events in favor of the actual names appearing in the story. It should be expressed in present tense and ideally should go beyond simply describing the visual elements of the scene.


datelines, Pennsylvania communities

A Pennsylvania story should include Pa. in the dateline if it originates outside the primary circulation area (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties). The only exceptions will be Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

David L. Lawrence Convention Center

day or date and time

Give the time first, then the day or date.

district judge

Proper term for officials who were once called district justices. There is no need to use the full legal term, magisterial district judge.

Donaldson's Crossroads

The hamlet in Peters, Washington County.

Do Not Call list

No quotation marks


Capitalized only when referring to a geographically defined area in the city of Pittsburgh.

Duquesne Light Co.

On second reference, Duquesne Light.


East End

This encompasses several neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city of Pittsburgh. Should not be used if you have the specific neighborhood: Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, Homewood, etc. Permissible where two or more neighborhoods are being referred to at once.

Eastern Catholics

Eastern Catholics are under the authority of the pope, but follow Orthodox practices in ritual and some aspects of church government. They should not be called Orthodox. The archaic terms Eastern Rite Catholic or Greek Catholic are no longer used, except when the latter remains in the proper name of a parish. The Eastern Catholic Churches have ethnic roots. Those most commonly found in Pittsburgh are Byzantine, Ukrainian and Maronite Catholics.

Edgewood Towne Centre

Edgar Thomson Plant

Officially, the Edgar Thomson Plant of U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Works.

Eighty Four

No hyphen for the community. The company is 84 Lumber Corp.

Ellwood City

Although this city is in two counties, Lawrence and Beaver, all but a few wards are in Lawrence, so we use Lawrence County.



fire companies, abbreviation

When using in a story, follow this style: Engine Co. 82.

frack, fracking

The preferred spelling for the process used by miners to inject water and sand into the earth to extract natural gas.


No "i" in the township's name.

funeral service

Avoid as redundant. A funeral is a service.



Use this term as a shortened version of gasoline only where no possible confusion will result. For example, He put gas in the car is acceptable.


Acceptable on first reference for General Educational Development test. Those who pass receive a certificate, not a diploma.

General Fund

Capitalize in references to state government finance.

General Mail Facility

Pittsburgh's central post office on California Avenue on the North Side.

geographic descriptions, Pennsylvania

Capitalize Western Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania and Eastern Pennsylvania; lowercase all other such references, including the commonly-used southwestern Pennsylvania.

Girty's Run

Flood-prone stream that passes through several North communities.

graffiti artist

Avoid this term unless it refers to someone involved in a legitimate art exhibit. Graffiti vandals is a more apt term for those who spray paint in public places.

Greentree Road

But it's Green Tree for the borough and in all related names.

guarantees, loan

If all that was done was to guarantee a loan, don't say that money was loaned or that a loan was made or given.



hard hat



Abbreviation for hazardous materials. Avoid except in proper names.


The cardinal rule is that the headline must be accurate and give the reader a true impression of the story. The headline should not steal the lead, especially in feature material.

Some additional guidelines:

Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts

Heinz Hall is sufficient in all uses.

Heinz History Center

Permissible in first reference to the Senator John Heinz History Center.


Avoid using as a synonym for believed or contended.

Herrs Island

No apostrophe. Still the name for the island in the Allegheny River.

High Holy Days

Not High Holidays. The Jewish High Holy Days are observed during a 10-day period each fall, starting with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). They are the most important Jewish holidays, and usually occur in September, but the dates can shift each year.

highways, bridges

Interstate 79 on first reference, I-79 thereafter; U.S. Route 22 or Route 22 are acceptable on all references for U.S. highways; state Route 88 or Route 88 for state-maintained highways. Hundreds of Pennsylvania roads and bridges are named after individuals. Such a name only needs to be mentioned when it is the best-known name or when the context demands it.

hoard, horde

Hoard means an accumulation and is also a verb; horde is a crowd.

home in, hone

Do not confuse these two verbs. To home in is to seek, as in a target. To hone means to sharpen.

home room

Homestead Grays Bridge


Inadequate for address purposes. See city neighborhoods map to determine if a location is in Homewood or an adjacent neighborhood. Acceptable, however, in referring to community organizations that use the name, e.g., Homewood-Brushton Community Improvement Association.


Pennsylvania has five types of homicide verdict:

First-degree murder is deliberate killing. The mandatory sentence is life in prison without parole, or death.

Second-degree murder is homicide committed while engaged as a principal or accomplice in the commission of a felony. The mandatory sentence is life in prison without parole.

Third-degree murder is homicide committed with malice (see below) but without specific intent to kill. The maximum sentence is 20 to 40 years, with judges given latitude to weigh mitigating or aggravating circumstances and a defendant's criminal record.

Voluntary manslaughter is homicide committed in the heat of passion resulting from serious provocation. A second-degree felony, it carries a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years, with judges given latitude to weigh mitigating or aggravating circumstances and a defendant's criminal record.

Involuntary manslaughter is reckless or grossly negligent conduct resulting in death. It is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 2 1/2 to five years.

Malice is required for any conviction for first-, second- or third-degree murder. It is defined by law as "a wickedness of disposition, hardness of heart, cruelty, recklessness of consequences and a mind regardless of social duty, indicating an unjustified disregard for the probability of death or great bodily harm and an extreme indifference to the value of human life." Further, "When a deadly weapon is intentionally used against a vital part of the human body, malice may be inferred to exist."

Under Pennsylvania law, a general charge of homicide is filed in most cases of killing. In some cases, a specific degree of homicide is charged before trial. In others, the case goes to trial on the general charge. After hearing the prosecution's evidence, the judge decides which specific charges may go to the jury. If there still are two or more, the jury must choose between them if it votes to convict.

hospital list

Allegheny General Hospital, North Side
Allegheny Neuropsychiatric Institute, North Side
Alle-Kiski Medical Center, Natrona Heights
Altoona Hospital
Memorial Hospital, Kittanning
Brownsville General Hospital
Butler Memorial Hospital
Canonsburg General Hospital
Children's Home of Pittsburgh
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (Children's Hospital suffices in second reference)
Children's Institute of Pittsburgh
Citizens General Hospital, New Kensington
Clarion Hospital
Clarion Psychiatric Center
D.T. Watson Rehabilitation Hospital, Sewickley
Du Bois Regional Medical Center
Ellwood City Hospital
Eye & Ear Institute, Oakland
Forbes Hospice, Oakland
Frick Hospital, Mount Pleasant
Gateway Rehabilitation Center, Aliquippa (with numerous other sites in Western Pa.)
Good Samaritan Medical Center, Johnstown
Greene County Memorial Hospital, Waynesburg
Grove City Medical Center; Hamot Medical Center, Erie
HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital
HealthSouth Hospital of Pittsburgh, Monroeville
HealthSouth Rehabilitation Center- Monroeville
HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Sewickley
Heritage Valley Beaver
Highlands Hospital, Connellsville
Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana, Pa.
ISMETT (in Palermo, Sicily, the Mediterranean Institute for Transplantation and Advanced Specialized Therapies, which is operated by UPMC)
Latrobe Hospital
James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center, Altoona
Jameson Hospital, New Castle
Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Jefferson Hills
John J. Kane Regional Centers: Ross, Scott, Glen Hazel, McKeesport
Kindred Hospital-Heritage Valley, Beaver
Kindred Hospital-Pittsburgh, Oakdale
LifeCare Hospital of Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC (Magee is sufficient on second reference)
Meadville Medical Center
Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown
Meyersdale Medical Center
Millcreek Community Hospital, Erie
Monongahela Valley Hospital, Carroll
hio Valley General Hospital, Kennedy
Punxsutawney Area Hospital
The Rehabilitation Institute, Squirrel Hill
Saint Vincent Health Center, Erie
Select Specialty Hospital, Greensburg (also Johnstown, Oakland, McKeesport, Erie)
Sewickley Valley Hospital, Sewickley
Sharon Regional Health System
Somerset Hospital
Southwest Regional Medical Center, Waynesburg
Southwood Psychiatric Hospital, Upper St. Clair
St. Clair Hospital, Mt. Lebanon
Titusville Area Hospital
Uniontown Hospital
UPMC Bedford Memorial
UPMC Braddock; UPMC Horizon, Greenville
UPMC McKeesport
UPMC Mercy
UPMC Montefiore
UPMC Passavant, McCandless
UPMC Northwest, Seneca
UPMC Presbyterian; UPMC St. Margaret
UPMC Shadyside
VA Medical Center, Butler
VA Medical Center, Oakland
VA Medical Center, O'Hara
Highland Drive VA Medical Center, Lincoln-Lemington
Washington Hospital
Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg
Westmoreland Hospital at Jeannette
West Penn Hospital, Bloomfield
West Penn Hospital, Forbes Regional Campus, Monroeville
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic


host, v.



Many hotels have adopted interminable names like Hampton Inn Inn Pittsburgh Oakland University Center. In most cases, Hampton Inn in Oakland would suffice. Following is an abridged listing of Pittsburgh-area hotels that frequently are mentioned in stories. Bear in mind that the ownership and names change frequently. If in doubt, use the Web to double-check.

Doubletree Hotel and Suites, Downtown
Hilton Pittsburgh, Downtown
Marriott Pittsburgh City Center, Downtown
Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown
The Priory, North Side
Sheraton Station Square Hotel
Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, Downtown
Westin Convention Center hotel, Downtown—note the lower case "h"

Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh

Use Pittsburgh Housing Authority on first reference and the authority or housing authority on second.


Acceptable in most references to the armed forces' "high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle." The consumer version is the Hummer.

Huntingdon, Huntington

Huntingdon, Huntingdon County
North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County
Huntington, W.Va.

hyphen, in compound modifiers

When using a compound modifier -- two or more words that express a single concept -- use hyphens only when the meaning of the modifer might be ambiguous or unclear without them, e.g., a small-business loan, a first-class graduation. If the meaning is clear, however, hyphens should be avoided, as in, a law enforcement officer, a long distance trucker, or a natural gas supplier.


Industrial Development Authority

An Allegheny County authority that provides tax-exempt financing for development projects in the county. On second reference, the IDA or the authority.

infer, imply

Infer means to draw a conclusion, imply to hint or suggest: The speaker implied that all was not well in his country. His audience inferred that a revolution was brewing.


Spiders and centipedes are not insects. If in doubt about a specific creature, consult references.

inside of, outside of

Drop the of.

inter, intra

Inter means between, intra within: Interplanetary travel, intramural (within the walls) athletics.


irony, ironic, ironically

Irony means the opposite of what is expected or what might be expected. Avoid where the meaning is curiously or coincidentally.

Irvin Plant

Not Irwin, not Irvin Works. A U.S. Steel plant that rolls slabs made at the Edgar Thomson Plant into sheet metal used primarily for appliances. Part of U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Works.

italicized words for emphasis

It is better to convey emphasis by rewording the sentence.

its, it's

Possibly the most commonly misused words in any newspaper.

Its is the possessive form. The council passed its annual budget.

It's is a contraction of it is, and writers should get in the habit of saying that aloud when they encounter the apostrophe to see if they have the right construction. "It's the biggest budget we’ve ever passed," the council president said.



Do not use incorrectly for sentenced. It should be limited to describing how long someone was in jail.

jelly bean

Jewish congregations

Jewish houses of worship are called synagogues. Many Reform Jewish congregations use the term temple in their name, but Conservative and Orthodox Jews believe that word can only apply to the temple in Jerusalem. Do not refer to a synagogue as a temple unless the word is part of its formal name. Congregation or synagogue are both acceptable in all instances.

Jewish Family and Children's Service of Pittsburgh

Note singular "Service" in title.


Means to agree or be in harmony with. Gibe is a taunt.


Acceptable colloquialism for an unlicensed cab.

Judaism, expressions of

Capitalize the adjectives Conservative, Orthodox and Reform (not Reformed) in all references. A fourth, smaller branch of Judaism with a Pittsburgh presence is Reconstructionist Judaism.

judge, justice

Judges of the U.S. Supreme Court and of the highest courts of most states, including Pennsylvania, are justices. Judges of other courts, including U.S. circuit courts of appeal and district courts, and Pennsylvania's Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, are judges.

A judge should be named in a story reporting a trial held before him or her and also in a story reporting a settlement reached under his or her supervision.

When reporting a split decision of the state Supreme Court or of either state appellate court, distinguish the chief justice or president judge with his or her proper title: Chief Justice Harry Krishna and Justice Sarah Bellum joined in Justice Knapp's dissent.

A judge of a U.S. district court should be called U.S. District Judge Hubert I. Hangem on first reference unless that court has already been mentioned in the story, in which case the judge should be referred to simply as Judge Hubert I. Hangem. A chief or senior federal district judge is Chief U.S. District Judge Warren Peace or Senior U.S. District Judge Sandy Beach.

Judiciary guidelines

State Appellate Courts

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Has seven members, of whom the senior (the one with the longest service on the court) becomes chief justice of Pennsylvania. The others are justices, not associate justices. On first reference, state Supreme Court is acceptable, or use Pennsylvania Supreme Court if necessary to avoid confusion. The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts was created in 1968 as an arm of the Supreme Court. It is staffed by professional managers, financial officers and clerical employees. The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court investigates complaints of misconduct by lawyers. Disciplinary action is taken by the court on its recommendation.

Superior Court One of Pennsylvania's two intermediate appellate courts, with appellate jurisdiction in most criminal and civil cases. Has 15 judges, the senior of whom becomes president judge. Most cases are heard in three-judge panels. The judges on a panel should be named in stories reporting significant rulings. On first reference, state Superior Court is acceptable, or use Pennsylvania Superior Court if necessary to avoid confusion.

Commonwealth Court One of Pennsylvania's two intermediate appellate courts, with jurisdiction in most civil suits by or against state government; most appeals from actions of state administrative agencies (either originally or after primary review by the local Common Pleas Court); most appeals in civil cases in which the state is a party; appeals in criminal cases arising from violations of state regulatory statutes or administrative regulations; appeals in cases involving interpretation of home rule charters, local ordinances and state statutes governing local governments; and appeals in eminent domain proceedings. There are nine judges, of whom the senior becomes president judge. Many cases are heard in three-judge panels. The judges on a panel should be named in stories reporting significant rulings. Commonwealth Court is acceptable on first reference.

Judicial disciplinary organs

Two bench disciplinary organs were established by a May 1993 amendment to the state constitution. The 12-member Judicial Conduct Board is essentially an investigative arm. If it finds that a complaint against a judge or justice has apparent merit, it brings charges before the eight-member Court of Judicial Discipline, at which point the case becomes a matter of public record. Decisions of the court can be appealed to the state Supreme Court only in special instances.

State Trial Courts

Common Pleas Court The court handling all but minor legal matters in a Pennsylvania judicial district. A judge of a Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court is Common Pleas Judge George A. Jeffreys or Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge George A. Jeffreys. When a second Common Pleas judge is named in a story, he may be referred to as Judge Elihu P. Sternwallow. Some judges stay on in a part-time capacity as senior judges after reaching the court's mandatory retirement age of 70. Use Senior Common Pleas Judge Roscoe Batflailer.

Large Common Pleas Courts, including Allegheny County's, are divided into divisions. Allegheny County Common Pleas Court comprises the Civil Division, Criminal Division, Orphan's Court Division and Family Division. Judges in each division of a large Common Pleas Court elect one of their number to be administrative judge. He or she should be so identified only in stories dealing with actions taken in that capacity. Say Edward C. Roe, administrative judge of the court's Criminal Division. Avoid Common Pleas Administrative Judge Edward C. Roe. Allegheny County's Bail Agency, Behavior Clinic (not Behavioral) and Probation Office are under the president judge.

Lesser state courts

District judges All Pennsylvania counties except Philadelphia County are divided into districts where elected magisterial district judges (formerly district justices) handle minor legal matters. Use District Judge Dennis B. Roddy on first reference. District judges try summary criminal offenses (meaning, for the most part, violations of local ordinances) and civil suits involving $4,000 or less. They also preside at arraignments and preliminary hearings in misdemeanor and felony cases; set bail; issue warrants; and accept private citizens' complaints in criminal and minor civil matters in cases where this procedure has been approved by the district attorney's office. All of their decisions are appealable to Common Pleas Court. Senior district judges are past the official age of retirement but still hear cases, usually in Night Court..

Night Court Part of the district judge system, this county court is presided over by district judges. While there can be exceptions, its ordinary business is limited to arraignments, the setting of bail and the issuing of warrants.

Beaver County Central Court Staffed by district judges who sit in rotation at Beaver, this court sits Tuesdays through Fridays and takes pleas in felonies and misdemeanors. Its main business is preliminary hearings. The justices set bail, issue warrants and, on occasion, arraign defendants.

justice of the peace

No such thing in Pennsylvania. Use district judge.

juvenile court



Kane Regional Centers

The four taxpayer-supported Allegheny County nursing care facilities in Glen Hazel, McKeesport, Ross and Scott.


Children is preferred, although kids may be appropriate in informal contexts.


Plural is kielbasas.



Use almost exclusively for military matters, as with rockets or missiles. Generally avoid using this as a verb for starting political campaigns, fund drives and other events.


See liquor control.



Past tense of lead, which is often incorrectly used in past tense.

Legionnaires' disease


(Updated Jan. 2, 2008)

Allegheny County Council

At large:

John DeFazio, D-Shaler
Charles McCullough, R-Upper St. Clair
District 1: Matt Drozd, R-Ross
District 2: Jan Rea, R-McCandless
District 3: James Burn Jr., D-Millvale
District 4: Michael J. Finnerty, D-Scott
District 5: Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park
District 6: Joan Cleary, D-Brentwood
District 7: Nick Futules, D-Verona
District 8: Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale
District 9: Robert J. Macey, D-West Mifflin
District 10: Bill Robinson, D-Hill District
District 11: Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill (President)
District 12: James Ellenbogen, D-Banksville
District 13: Amanda Green, D-Stanton Heights

Pa. Legislature

Senate Republicans:

Jane Orie, R-McCandless (District 40)
John Pippy, R-Moon (District 37)
Kim Ward, R-Hempfield (District 39)
Don White, R-Indiana (Dist. 41)
Mary Jo White, R-Venango (District 21)

Senate Democrats:

Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills (District 43)
Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park (Dist. 38)
Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline (Dist. 42)
Richard Kasunic, D-Dunbar (District 32)
Sean Logan, D-Monroeville (Dist. 45)
Barry Stout, D-Bentleyville (District 46)
Elder A. Vogel Jr., R-New Sewickley (District 47)

House Republicans

Jim Christiana, R-Beaver (District 15)
Brian Ellis, R-Butler (District 11)
John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair (District 40)
Jim Marshall, R-Big Beaver (District 14)
Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry (District 12)
Mark Mustio, R-Moon (District 44)
Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City (District 60)
Mike Reese, R-Mount Pleasant (District 59)
Dick Stevenson, R-Grove City (District 8)
Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods (Dist. 28)
Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler (District 30)

House Democrats:

James Casorio, D-Irwin (District 56)
Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights (District 21)
Paul Costa, D-Wilkins (District 34)
Peter Daley, D-California (District 49)
Dan Deasy, D-Westwood (District 27)
Anthony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills (District 32)
Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont (District 33)
Bill DeWeese, D-Waynesburg (District 50)
Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill (District 23)
Marc J. Gergely, D-White Oak (District 35)
Jaret Gibbons, D-Ellwood City (District 10)
R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen (59th)
Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg (District 38)
Nick Kotik, D-Robinson (District 45)
Tim Krieger, R-Delmont (District 57)
Deberah Kula, D-North Union (District 52)
David Levdansky, D-Forward (District 39)
Tim Mahoney, D-South Union (District 51)
Joseph Markosek, D-Monroeville (District 25)
Robert F. Matzie, D-Ambridge (District 16)
John Pallone, D-New Kensington (District 54)
Joseph Petrarca, D-Vandergrift (District 55)
Joseph Preston, D-East Liberty (District 24)
Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick (District 36)
Matthew Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon (District 42)
Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg (District 48)
Chelsa Wagner, D-Beechview (District 22)
Don Walko, D-North Side (District 20)
Jake Wheatley, D-Hill District (District 19)
Jesse White, D-Cecil (District 46)


Tri-State Senators:

Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Arlen Specter, D-Pa.
Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
George Voinovich, R-Ohio
Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Western Pennsylvania House Democrats

Jason Altmire, D-McCandless
Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Erie
Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills
John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown

Western Pennsylvania House Republicans

Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair
Glenn Thompson, R-Howard
Bill Shuster, R-Blair

Tri-State House Members

Zack Space, D-Ohio
Ted Strickland, D-Ohio
Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va.
Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

Pa. House Delegation to the U.S. Congress, by district

1st — Robert A. Brady, D-Philadelphia
2nd — Chaka Fattah, D-Philadelphia
3rd — Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Erie
4th — Jason Altmire, D-McCandless
5th — Glenn Thompson, R-Howard
6th — Jim Gerlach, R-Chester
7th — Joe Sestak, D-Delaware County
8th — Patrick Murphy, D-Bucks
9th — Bill Shuster, R-Blair
10th —Christopher Carney, D-Susquehanna
11th — Paul Kanjorski, D-Luzerne
12th — John P. Murtha, D-Johnstown
13th — Allyson Y. Schwartz, D-Philadelphia
14th — Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills
15th — Charlie Dent, R-Lehigh
16th — Joseph R. Pitts, R-Chester
17th — Tim Holden, D-Schuylkill
18th — Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair
19th — Todd Russell Platts, R-York


Allegheny General Hospital medical helicopter service. Do not use as a verb.

Light Rail Transit system

Three capitals, no hyphens. On second reference use the LRT system or the T.

Light Up Night

No hyphen.

like, such as

Such as is the preferred preposition introducing a series of examples.

liquor control

The state Liquor Control Board (LCB is permissible on second reference) operates the state liquor store system and issues licenses and permits. Enforcement of liquor laws is handled by the state Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.

loath, loathe

Loath is an adjective meaning reluctant or unwilling.

Loathe is a verb meaning to detest.

local government bodies

For localities other than Pittsburgh, use lowercase: Brentwood council is to consider the matter tonight. Avoid wordy, redundant titles like Brentwood Borough Council.

local government bodies, heads of

Uppercase when using before a full name: borough Councilwoman Natalie Drest; school board President Guy Wire. When naming the head of a governmental or school council or board, do not refer to his or her chairmanship or presidency unless it is essential to the story, as when he or she presided at a meeting or is acting as spokesman or spokeswoman for the council or board.

local government units, Pennsylvania

Under state municipal codes there are cities, boroughs, townships and one town (Bloomsburg, Columbia County). A community that has been granted a home rule charter is free to adopt whatever designation it likes.

If the designation of a community is used before its name to signify the local government as a corporate entity, use lowercase: The city of Pittsburgh appealed the ruling.

The designation of a community should be given and capitalized immediately after its name only in the instances specified under township.

locales commonly misspelled

Du Bois (two words)
Hollidaysburg (Blair County)
Jeannette (Westmoreland County)
Langeloth (Washington County)
Port Allegany
Port Vue (McKean County)
Rosslyn Farms
St. Marys (no apostrophe for the Elk County community)

Locations, postal designations

If possible, use the municipality as an identifier rather than a postal designation like Wexford, Allison Park or Large. In particular, all breaking news stories should use the municipal name. The use of postal designations is permissible when the municipal name cannot be verified and in contexts where the municipal name is not essential (feature and sports stories, for example.)

Use caution in using mailing addresses to identify a person's municipality. Often they are not the same (for example, some people in Scott use a Bridgeville mailing address; people in Stowe and Robinson use a McKees Rocks mailing address.)

Postal designations in Allegheny County that are not municipalities include:

Allison Park
Buena Vista
Caste Village
Rural Ridge

Also, see counties, identifying cities by.


When added to a term of time, it ordinarily takes no hyphen: The youth program is a summerlong activity.

Longue Vue Club

It's in Penn Hills, though its mailing address is in Verona. Country is not part of the name.

lower Hill, lower Hill District

Lutheran churches

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is correct for the largest Lutheran body. On second reference, use Lutheran synod.


mace, v.

Acceptable to mean to cheat, to swindle, and especially, to force political contributions from.


Do not use when referring to a district judge.

magistrate judge

A U.S. magistrate judge is a federal trial judge appointed to serve in a U.S. district court for a term of eight years. He or she is appointed by the life-tenured federal judges of a district court, who supervise the activities of the magistrate judges by assigning civil cases for jury or nonjury trial upon consent of the parties and for pretrial matters. Similarly, criminal cases are assigned to magistrate judges on the consent of the parties, except for the trial of felony cases.

mailing addresses

Use two-letter capitalized state abbreviations in mailing addresses. Omit PA in Pittsburgh mailing addresses.

Maintenance Department, county

Suffices in most references to what is the county Department of Special Services and Maintenance Operations.

Major League Baseball

This capitalized, unhyphenated form should be used only in references to the organization that copyrighted it: Giamatti served as commissioner of Major League Baseball, but Swattem's only ambition since boyhood has been to play major-league baseball.


Beaver Valley Mall
Century III Mall
Clearview Mall
Cranberry Mall
Collier Crossing
Deer Creek Crossing
Edgewood Towne Centre
Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills
Greengate Centre
Monroeville Mall
Northgate Plaza
Northway Mall
Prime Outlets-Grove City
Robinson Town Centre
Ross Park Mall
Scott Towne Center
Settlers Ridge
South Hills Village
SouthSide Works
Station Square
Strabane Square
The Mall at Robinson
The Pointe at North Fayette
The Waterfront
Trinity Point Washington Mall
Washington Crown Center
Waterworks Mall
Westmoreland Mall

Marcellus Shale

A geological formation in Pennsylvania and other states that contains natural gas.

Maronite Church

An Eastern Catholic Church with roots in the nation of Lebanon. See Eastern Catholics.

Mass, funeral

Avoid Mass of Christian Burial. In obituaries, use the form A funeral Mass will be celebrated at ....

McArdle Roadway


A borough that is partly in Allegheny County but mostly in Washington County.

Meadows Racetrack and Casino, The


An individual newspaper or TV news department is a news organization, not a news medium or news outlet. News media is preferable to media if the reference is to media of news only and not to advertising and entertainment media as well. It takes a plural verb: The news media are ... . For information on naming other news organizations in stories, see competing news organizations.

medical conditions

The preferred categories for patients in the hospital are good, fair, poor and critical. "Stable condition" should be avoided. If officials can only report a stable condition, the preferred phrasing is "described the patient's condition as stable."

See stable condition.


Capitalize the name applied to medical insurance that covers health care costs not included under Medicare.

Mental Health/Mental Retardation/Drug & Alcohol Program

In most cases, the county mental health agency, county mental retardation agency or the county drug and alcohol program, as appropriate, will suffice. Use the full name on first reference in a story that deals with the agency in any depth.

Mexican War Streets

A North Side neighborhood bounded by Buena Vista Street, Taylor Street, Sherman Street and North Avenue.

Mid Mon Valley

No hyphen. Mid Mon suffices on second use. The term is in wide use by public and private organizations in the area bounded by Forward on the north, Brownsville on the south, West Newton on the east and Bentleyville on the west—a narrower area than that denoted by Mon Valley.


One-tenth of one cent. Property tax rates are expressed in mills, with one mill representing $1 of tax on each $1,000 of assessed property value. Where possible, stories about tax rate changes should provide an example or examples of the impact, in dollars, on homeowners (i.e., The change would add $40 to the property tax bill for a home valued at $75,000). The phrase "millage rate" is redundant. Use "millage" or "tax rate."


Do not call an individual a minority. Say he or she is a member of, or belongs to, a minority group.

Mon-Fayette Expressway

Mosside Boulevard; Moss Side Elementary School; Moss Side Middle School

Mt. Lebanon

Abbreviate the first word. The community's home rule charter calls it Mt. Lebanon. Avoid Mt. Lebo even in heads.

municipalities, Pennsylvania

See local government units, Pennsylvania.


Avoid using where a suspect is charged with homicide. In Pennsylvania, homicides are classified as murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter. For details, see homicide.


No "a".


Avoid a myriad of. Correct: Myriad stars are visible through the Hubble Telescope.



Getting a person's name right is one of the first essentials of reporting. When interviewing people, ask for correct spelling, preference in the use of the first name and/or initials, and any peculiarities. Double-check spellings using the PG online library or other reliable Internet sources.

We should use the first name preferred by the person. If we don't know the preference, we should use the person's formal first name.

Nicknames are permissible. If John P. Jones is known to all his friends as Doc, his name would appear as John P. "Doc" Jones. A married woman's maiden name or name from a previous marriage will be used if desired. The names should appear in their proper order: Mrs. Mary Jones, nee Smith, would appear as Mary Smith Jones. If the widow Jones is remarried to a man named Brown, her name should appear as Mary Jones Brown.

The first names of the president and all other officials should be included on first reference. The same applies to all living former U.S. presidents. Use the first names of all deceased presidents except for such historic figures as Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. If a widely known person uses an informal first name (e.g., Jimmy Carter or Dick Thornburgh), we will also.

NAACP, Pittsburgh branch

The local organization is called the Pittsburgh branch (not chapter) of the NAACP.

National Aviary, the

Suffices on first reference to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. On second reference, use the aviary.

nauseous, nauseated

Nauseous means sickening or disgusting. Nauseated means to feel nausea.


With widely known places like PNC Park and Heinz Field, no further identification is needed. Otherwise, a Pittsburgh address is not complete without the neighborhood. Use the city of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods map to correctly identify the city neighborhood.


Also see wards.

Neighborhood Legal Services Association

Neighborhood Legal Services is acceptable in all usages.


Acceptable on second reference to the Internet.


Use formal names for personalities and include nicknames only in rare instances, as in the late House Speaker Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr.

Night Court

Capitalize. See Judiciary guidelines.

North Huntingdon

North Huntingdon is in Westmoreland County; Huntingdon, Huntingdon County; Huntington, W.Va.

North Shore

A city neighborhood that includes Heinz Field and PNC Park and the nearby office and retail development.

North Side

Two words. Takes the definite article: She lives on the North Side. Where an address or site is being given, avoid North Side and use the city map to find the specific neighborhood. Permissible where two or more neighborhoods are being referred to at once: Two people were badly hurt in separate North Side traffic accidents.

Northside Leadership Conference

noted, v.

Not an exact synonym for said. Use only when someone has called attention to some fact that is widely known or easily checked.


See sister.


opening statements

What lawyers for both sides tell a trial jury before the first witness is called. Since argumentation is not allowed, opening argument is incorrect. When all witnesses and evidence have been presented, lawyers sum up in closing arguments.


The lower case orthodox is an adjective, meaning strict interpretation in a certain tradition: "The Catholic monk was known for his orthodox writings."

Orthodox Christians

Orthodoxy, also called Eastern Orthodoxy, is the major form of Christianity in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Orthodoxy and Catholicism split from each other in 1054, and Orthodox Christians should never be referred to as Catholics or vice versa. There are more than a dozen canonical Orthodox churches worldwide, each rooted in a different nationality, such as Greek Orthodox or Albanian Orthodox. Orthodox priests may be married, but bishops must be celibate. Some bishops and archbishops have the title Metropolitan. Bishops, following monastic tradition, use only their first names: Metropolitan Maximos, bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Orthodox Judaism

Orthodoxy is one of four major branches of Judaism, and emphasizes strict adherence to the commandments of the Torah, which is the Jewish term for the first five books of the Bible.


Avoid where more than can be used in its place.


Pa. after city or borough name

The rule in datelines, Pennsylvania communities applies. In addition, use Pa. where there is a potential source of confusion, as where the town is named after a state (California, Indiana, Washington) or an out-of-state city (Dallas, Houston, Washington).

panhandles, geographical

Uppercase West Virginia's Northern Panhandle and Eastern Panhandle.


The correct title for almost all personnel of the city Emergency Medical Services Bureau. A recruit starts out as an emergency medical technician and rises quickly to the rank and license of paramedic. The bureau does not use medic and considers it a lay term.

Pardons, Board of

An agency of the office of lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor is chairman of the board. See Probation and Parole, Board of.


Parkway East, Parkway West, Parkway North

But the parkway. The Parkway East is also Interstate 376, while the Parkway West and Parkway North are both part of I-279. Though the general direction of the Parkway West is east and west, roadside signs give these as "South" and "North" respectively. To avoid confusion, use outbound and inbound.


Do not use party as a synonym for person. However, parties to a contract or a lawsuit are correct usage.


See Port Authority of Allegheny County, the.


Acceptable on second reference and in headlines dealing with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Takes no definite article.


Where it is used on second reference, the first reference should be to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, not to the Transportation Department. Where the acronym does not appear, the state Transportation Department suffices.

Penn State University

Proper in all usages. The institution's official name, The Pennsylvania State University, now is used on legal documents only.

Branch campuses in Western Pennsylvania include:

Pennsylvania School Boards Association


Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Research affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development; provides research and analysis on public policy matters.

Pennsylvania Turnpike

On first reference, the Pennsylvania Turnpike; on second, the turnpike. It is governed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission—on second reference, the turnpike commission or the commission.

percent, percentage points

Percent is one word. Use it or % in headlines. Do not confuse percent and percentage points. If a tax is raised from 5 percent to 6 or 7 percent, the increase represents 1 or 2 percentage points but 20 or 40 percent.


Not an adequate job description of a broadcasting station employee or anyone else. Use announcer or other appropriate term.

PG Publishing Co.

No hyphen, no periods.


A person educated, examined and licensed to dispense drugs by prescription.


Stands for Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. Acceptable on second reference, as is the authority. The acronym is pronounced "fee-uh" and takes no definite article.

Phipps Conservatory

Acceptable on first reference to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

pierogi, pierogies

Pittsburgh with team names

The city name is unnecessary before the names Pirates, Penguins and Steelers but acceptable in some references before Bulls or with teams that no longer play here, including former ABA, MISL and tennis franchises. When used as adjectives, the team names should remain plural, i.e.: Steelers nation; Pirates fan; Penguins mania. The team names take plural verbs.

Pittsburgh Board of Public Education

Pittsburgh school board is acceptable in most usages, with the last two words lowercase.

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Use Shadyside as the neighborhood for its site at Fifth and Shady avenues.

Pittsburgh City Charter

Capitalize whether or not the city's name is used.

Pittsburgh City Council

Pittsburgh City Council on first reference, city council or the council on second.

All other local government elected bodies are to be lower case to start with, as in Brentwood council, Carnegie council, etc., even on first reference.

See also: Allegheny County Council.

Pittsburgh Expo Mart


Pittsburgh Filmmakers

Exception to the usual film makers.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

Takes an ampersand.

Pittsburgh International Airport

The name was changed from Greater Pittsburgh International Airport in 1992. The main components of the new terminal are the airside and landside buildings.

Pittsburgh Presbytery

Takes no definite article.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Give the full name on the first mention in a story.

Pittsburgh Press, The

The definite article was part of the name. On second reference, the Press.

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Takes a plural verb. For individual school names, see

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

See Tribune-Review.

Pittsburgh, University of

Pitt is acceptable on second reference and in headlines, and in all references on sports pages. Pitt's branches are:

Pitt is a state-related or quasi-state university. It is a public campus, but receives aid from rather than being owned by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Others are Penn State University; Temple University, Philadelphia; and Lincoln University, Chester County.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Note ampersand.

Planned Parenthood/Pennsylvania affiliates

Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania is acceptable in all references. Headquarters is in Harrisburg.

planning commission

Avoid such wordy and redundant phrases as Moon Township Planning Commission. Moon planning commission suffices.



It means excessive or overabundant. Should not be used simply to indicate a large number.

Point, the

Capitalize in all references. The area of Downtown from the fountain back to buildings bordering Commonwealth Place.

Port Authority of Allegheny County, the

The public transportation system that operates buses, light rail, inclines and paratransit. The bus system is called Port Authority Transit. The Port Authority is acceptable on first reference and the authority on second reference. The rail system is called the Light Rail Transit system; the T is acceptable in second reference. A major feature of the paratransit program is the ACCESS taxi-van for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Despite its name, the authority no longer has any jurisdiction over river traffic.


Acceptable in first reference for pre-kindergarten classes.


Acceptable on second reference to Presbyterian University Hospital.

presently, currently

Presently means something that is about to happen. Currently refers to something that is happening now.

prices and fares

A price or a fare can be high, low, moderate, etc., but it cannot be cheap or expensive.

Probation and Parole, Board of

An agency of the executive branch of state government. On second reference, the parole board. See Pardons, Board of.

pronouns for animals

In general use the neuter it, rather than the personal pronoun he or she for animals, even domestic pets. This means use of that or which rather than who, and its rather than his or her.

project (public housing)

Avoid because of its possibly negative connotation. Use public housing community or public housing neighborhood.

protection-from-abuse order


Make it provided that something occurs, not providing that.

pseudo as prefix

Do not hyphenate unless in combination with a proper noun.

public defender

The county office is headed by a director. His subordinates who defend criminal cases are public defenders. The correct style for any of them is public defender Habey S. Corpus.

Public Safety Department

City Safety Department suffices on second reference.

Public Utility Commission, state

Not Public Utilities Commission. PUC is acceptable on second reference.

Public Welfare, state Department of

One of the departments of the state government. On second reference, the Welfare Department suffices, but avoid referring to it simply as Welfare. Its branch in the county is the Allegheny County Board of Public Assistance.


Use sparingly. Avoid making a pun of a person's name.


Do not use as a term for students.


quarter mile, quarter-mile, quarter-miler

Noun, adjective, runner.


Identify the current queen of England as Queen Elizabeth II. Do not identify her as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II or Queen Elizabeth II of Britain because she is the monarch of several nations. The world's other monarchs should be identified through their countries, such as King Hussein of Jordan or King Juan Carlos of Spain.

quotes, identifications in

Parenthetical identification of a person referred to by a pronoun should replace the pronoun.

Incorrect: I told him (Smith) that I wanted to see him the next morning.
Correct: I told [Smith] that I wanted to see him the next morning.


When a story begins with a quotation, the quote should be dropped under the byline, like this:

By Scoop McLain
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"To be or not to be."
      – William Shakespeare



Wherever possible, avoid in stories and headlines as a term for a series of events or items, as in a rash of burglaries or a rash of fires.


real estate tax

Comply with these definitions:

See mill.

reckless endangerment

Use instead of the statutory recklessly endangering another person.


Avoid repeating the same words and phrases, such as craft a bill, create a committee, faces charges. Also, avoid repeating a word or phrase in several graphs or throughout the story and don't use a direct quote if you have already paraphrased the substance of the quote in your story.


Avoid when possible in referring to changes in tax regulations, health care legislation or other public policies. Neutral terms such as "e;overhaul"e; or "e;revision"e; are preferred.

Reform Judaism

One of four major branches of Judaism, it teaches that the Torah — the first five books of the Bible — must be reinterpreted for modern times and that many of its commandments are no longer binding. Reform Jew, Reform rabbi. Do not use Reformed.

Regional Asset District

Asset is singular. RAD is permissible on second reference.

regions, Pennsylvania

Capitalize Western Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania and Eastern Pennsylvania; lowercase all others.


These words are of little help in shielding a newspaper from legal liability. Where it is necessary to make it clear that what is being charged has not yet been proved, it is better to rewrite the sentence to convey that. The same applies to alleged, allegedly, supposed, supposedly and suspected. (Differs from AP Stylebook.)

revue, review

A revue is a light musical stage show. Otherwise use review.

rob, steal

A person or place is robbed; the articles are stolen: Gunman robs bank. Gunman steals $10,000.

Rodef Shalom Congregation

Use Shadyside for its site.


Use only in proper names like the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic.

rout, route

Rout as a noun means precipitous flight, a disastrous defeat, or a state of confusion. As a verb it means to put to flight or to defeat utterly. Route as a noun means course of travel or itinerary. The verb means to direct or to assign a course of travel.

route numbers

See highways, bridges.

rural delivery addresses

The correct form is Al Falfa, RD 3 Herminie.



St. is acceptable before names, except Saint Vincent College, Saint Francis University and Saint Francis Health Center. See college names, hospital list.


The abbreviation is SS. He belonged to SS. Peter & Paul Church.


Use initials only. It is no longer an abbreviation for Scholastic Assessment Test or Scholastic Aptitude Test.

School boards, capitalization of

Capitalize as formal name: Pittsburgh Board of Public Education; lowercase if used informally: Pittsburgh school board.

settlements, lawsuit

A case is settled only when it is ended by compromise.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Located in Somerset County.

sex discrimination

Rather than sexual discrimination where the meaning is discrimination on the basis of his or her sex.

sewage, sewerage, sewer

Sewage is the waste matter. Sewerage is the drainage system. A sewer is a drain or pipe.

A sanitary sewer handles human waste; a storm sewer handles rainwater.

sheriff's deputy

Not deputy sheriff.

sheriff's sale


Refer to nuns by their first name, or their first name and middle names, in second reference, not by their surnames.


A verb, so it can't be used to modify a noun. Use slay and slain only where deliberate human intent was involved: Detective Lestrade was slain in the gunfight. Flags are at half-staff for the firefighters killed in the collapse.

South Side

Two words. Takes the definite article.

stable condition

Avoid using as a medical condition description. When patients are in the hospital, the preferred medical condition categories are good, fair, poor and critical. If officials can only report a stable condition, the preferred phrasing is "described the patient's condition as stable."

See medical conditions.

State Ethics Commission

State is part of the name. Capitalize when using the full name.

state police

Capitalize Pennsylvania State Police, lowercase when context does not require Pennsylvania.

STAT MedEvac

First word is all caps. Helicopter Ambulance Service used by Altoona Regional Health System, Children's Hospital, UPMC system. Based at Allegheny County Airport.

state offices headed by individuals

Lowercase. The office of attorney general, the office of auditor general, the office of the governor, the lieutenant governor's office, office of state treasurer.

State prison names

Use full title on first reference. On second reference, SCI-Albion, SCI-Camp Hill, etc. is the style.

State Correctional Institution Albion, Erie County
State Correctional Institution Camp Hill, Cumberland County
State Correctional Institution Chester, Delaware County
State Correctional Institution Coal Township, Northumberland County
State Correctional Institution Cresson, Cambria County
State Correctional Institution Dallas, Luzerne County
State Correctional Institution Forest, Marienville, Forest County
State Correctional Institution Frackville, Schuylkill County
State Correctional Institution Graterford, Montgomery County
State Correctional Institution Greensburg, Westmoreland County
State Correctional Institution Greene, Waynesburg, Greene County
State Correctional Institution Houtzdale, Clearfield County
State Correctional Institution Huntingdon, Huntingdon County
State Correctional Institution Laurel Highlands, Somerset, Somerset County
State Correctional Institution Mahanoy, Frackville, Schuylkill County
State Correctional Institution Mercer, Findley Township, Mercer County
State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
State Correctional Institution Retreat, Hunlock Creek, Luzerne County
State Correctional Institution Rockview, Bellefonte, Centre County
State Correctional Institution Smithfield, Smithfield Township, Huntingdon County
State Correctional Institution Somerset, Somerset County
State Correctional Institution Waymart, Wayne County

state-related universities

A title used to refer to four Pennsylvania institutions—Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University. They gained the designation through their charter or subsequent legislation. The schools receive a significant amount of state aid each year and are considered public universities, but they are not state-owned.

State System of Higher Education

With headquarters in Harrisburg, this system comprises the state's former teachers' colleges. The schools, which are owned by the state, all have "of Pennsylvania" as part of their formal names, but that phrase does not need to be used on first reference, except for schools whose titles include the names of other states, such as California University of Pennsylvania or Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP on second reference). The names of the schools also indicate which Pennsylvania municipality they are located in.

The schools are:

Bloomsburg University
California University of Pennsylvania
Cheyney University
Clarion University
East Stroudsburg University
Edinboro University
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Kutztown University
Lock Haven University
Mansfield University
Millersville University
Shippensburg University
Slippery Rock University
West Chester University

such as, like

"Such as" is the preferred preposition for introducing a series of examples.

Sunshine Act

Capitalize this state statute. Make it clear that it is an open-meeting law.


See bylines, omitting.


Use the plural. If a story deals with Duquesne University Tamburitzans, use that name on first or second reference. As a brief identification, folk music and dance group is acceptable.

Tea Party

Upper case for the conservative political movement.

teachers strike, teachers union

team names as adjectives

Use the plural. But drop the plural where it is obviously inappropriate: Joey Porter was a Steelers linebacker but Joey Porter was a Steeler.

team names, college

Panthers, Nittany Lions, Dukes, Mountaineers, Colonials acceptable in limited usage except in Sports. Team names of smaller colleges should be used only in the context of a story where it is very clear who is meant. College names and nicknames should not be mixed in a sentence or headline: avoid, e.g., Pitt plays Nittany Lions.

team names, singular and plural

Plural names take plural verbs and pronouns; singular names take singular verbs and pronouns.

telephone numbers

It is the reporter's responsibility to check and cq all phone numbers in copy. Phone numbers containing acronyms should be converted into numbers. Use 1 with long distance numbers. 1-123-456-7891.

then- with former officials

Use a hyphen and capitalize the office.

Three Rivers Arts Festival

In headlines, capitalize Arts Festival when Three Rivers is omitted. In copy, use full name on first reference and arts festival on second reference.

time, date, place

The Steelers play the Browns at 4 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field.


Plural of tipstaff, used by Pennsylvania's court system.


The only titles that should be capitalized before the titleholder's name are those of elected officials, cabinet officers, military or police officers, and royalty.

In all other cases, job titles—principal, coach, professor, department head, director, etc.—should be lowercase even when they are used before a name.

All titles are lowercase if they come after the person's name.

Follow AP style on nobility titles.

No more than three words should precede a name. If more than three words, place after the name.

See courtesy titles.


Correct name for boats that push barges on rivers in Pittsburgh area. They are not tugboats.


Not part of a municipality name except to avoid confusion or to differentiate from borough of the same name. Examples:

Allegheny County: Baldwin, Elizabeth, Springdale.

Beaver County: Darlington, Rochester.

Westmoreland County: Derry, Donegal, Ligonier, Mount Pleasant, Penn (include county).

Butler County: Connoquenessing, Penn (include county), Indiana, Lancaster, Ohio.

Use township or borough in the jurisdiction name in stories if there is a potential source of confusion, as with Allegheny Township, Baldwin Borough. Also, list the county in cases where more than one township has the same name in our circulation area (Forward, Allegheny County).

township board

Under Pennsylvania law, first-class townships are governed by boards of commissioners (not commissioners); second-class townships are governed by boards of supervisors.

Trib Total Media

The company that publishes the Tribune-Review of Greensburg, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and several other local newspapers. See Tribune-Review.


Use Tribune-Review of Greensburg. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is published on the North Side. Trib Total Media is the company that publishes both newspapers.

Trisagion service

Capitalize this Eastern Orthodox rite.


Capitalize when used in an individual's title.


A rig including a tractor and semi trailer should be called a tractor-trailer on first reference. Rig is permissible on second reference.

try to

It's try to win, not try and win.


All maintained by PennDOT except where noted. Adhere to singulars and plurals:

type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes


unincorporated communities

Where we want to name one and where the name is not the same as the township name, mention the township: All the fires have been set in the Perrysville section of Ross. Mention the county if it is other than Allegheny. Use the word township only where allowed under township.

United Steelworkers

The phrase "of America" has been dropped by the union. USW acceptable on second reference.

United Way

The regional units are the:

United Way of Allegheny County
United Way of Mon Valley
United Way of Beaver County
United Way of Butler County
United Way of Westmoreland County
United Way of Washington County
Greene County United Way

units of statewide or national organizations

Put the local unit first: Local 118, International Brotherhood of Loganberry Pickers.

university names

Give full name of college or university in the first reference, except in sports, where Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and IUP are acceptable. For universities in the State System of Higher Education, the phrase "of Pennsylvania" is not needed except where the school name might be confused with another place (California University of Pennsylvania, but Bloomsburg University).


The preferred designation for what was once known as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Should be used on first and subsequent references when referring to the hospital system as a whole.

Urban League

The national organization is the National Urban League. Local chapters drop the "national," as in Urban League of Pittsburgh.

U.S. with armed forces

In most contexts, omit the initials when naming a service.

U.S. Marshals Service

No apostrophe. On second reference, the Marshals Service.

U.S. Steel Tower



The trademark for Visual Average Speed Indicator and Recorder should be spelled out on first or second reference in a news story or editorial focused on the vehicle speed-measuring device. In other contexts, the full name is not ordinarily needed.

Veterans' Preference Act

Plural possessive. A Pennsylvania statute.


When used to mean auxiliary, do not hyphenate.


Do not use in referring to someone who has a disability or disease.

Vietnam Veterans Monument

Dedicated in 1987, it is in Clemente Park on the North Shore.

vocational-technical schools

The vocational schools are considered part of the secondary education system and are administered by intermediate units. Each school serves and is supported by the taxes of a different group of school districts. The one in McKeesport is operated by the McKeesport Area School District. The others are operated by joint committees. Vo-tech school is sufficient on second reference and in headlines. Capitalize the term when it forms part of a proper name. Schools in Allegheny County are:

A. W. Beattie Career Center, McCandless
Forbes Road Career and Technology Center, Monroeville
McKeesport Area Technology Center, McKeesport
Parkway West Career and Technology Center, North Fayette
Steel Center Area Vo-Tech School, Clairton



Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the official name of the company, which has headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. Use Walmart when referring to the retail stores.

war game, war zone

These are two-word phrases. Other compound uses are one word: warplane, warcraft, wartime.


This term is obsolete when referring to a section housing hospital patients. Use the terminology preferred by the hospital in question or use such generic terms as unit, center or floor.


Area designations of City of Pittsburgh wards:

01 Downtown Pittsburgh/ Bluff/ Duquesne University
02 Downtown Pittsburgh/ Part of Lower Hill District/ Strip District
03 Lower Hill District
04 Oakland/ Soho
05 Upper Hill District
06 Strip District/ Polish Hill
07 Shadyside
08 Bloomfield/ Friendship
09 Lawrenceville
10 Morningside/ Garfield/ Stanton Heights
11 East End/ Mall area/ Highland Park area
12 East Liberty
13 Homewood
14 Squirrel Hill / Point Breeze / Frick Park
15 Hazelwood / Greenfield / Glen Hazel
16 South Side / 21st Street / Mountain Street / Arlington Heights
17 South Side / 21st Street / St. Pauls Monastery / St. Michaels
18 Allentown / Beltzhoover
19 Brookline / Mount Washington/ Beechview
20 West End / Corliss/ Banksville/ Sheraden/ Elliot
21 Manchester / North Side
22 Stadium / Allegheny Center/ North Side Proper
23 Latimer Jr. High School / H.J. Heinz Co. area
24 Troy Hill / Spring Garden
25 Fineview/ Federal Street Ext. area
26 Perrysville/ Riverview / Observatory Hill
27 Woods Run / Brighton Road
28 Chartiers / Crafton Heights / Westwood / Esplen
29 Carrick
30 Knoxville
31 Hays / Lincoln Place
32 Overbrook

Washington's Landing

A commercial housing development on Herrs Island in the Allegheny River.

Waterworks Mall

Web, website

Capitalize Web when referring to the Internet. Use the lower case with no hyphen in compound uses of the word, such as website, webcast, or webmaster.

Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League

In news stories outside Sports, give full name on first or second reference. Abbreviated reference is the WPIAL.

West Liberty Avenue

Street in Pittsburgh and Dormont, and not a part of Liberty Avenue. In addresses, spell out the West.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

On second reference, the conservancy.


When describing someone who uses a wheelchair, do not say wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair.

Woodland Hills School District

A district created by court order to achieve racial integration, it comprises the former Churchill Area, Edgewood, General Braddock Area, Swissvale Area and Turtle Creek school districts.

workers' compensation, workmen's compensation

The state Department of Labor & Industry has a Bureau of Workers' Compensation and uses the phrase workers' compensation (plural possessive) in the course of its business. The law establishing the workers' compensation system remains the Workmen's Compensation Act. Use the plural possessive even when a single worker is involved: Blucollar is still collecting workers' compensation.


zeros, zeroes

The first is the plural of the noun: How many zeros does that number have?; the second is the plural of the verb: He zeroes in on the target.

Zoning Board of Adjustment

A Pittsburgh city agency. On second reference, the zoning board or the board; avoid ZBA.