Change Has Come to Mother Jones’ Style Guide: Biden-Harris in, Trump-Pence Out

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It’s not every day, or year, or four years, that I’m booting a president from our newsroom’s style guide. On Saturday, after multiple news organizations declared Biden-Harris the winning ticket of the presidential election, what choice did I have but to open our style guide, click “edit,” and enshrine the people’s will?

Before:

Capitalize formal titles only when they precede a person’s name: President Trump, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Lowercase informal titles (e.g., special counsel Robert Mueller).

After:

Capitalize formal titles only when they precede a person’s name: President-elect Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Lowercase informal titles (e.g., special counsel Robert Mueller).

Before:

airstrike
a.m., p.m.
American Dream
“Amtrak Joe” Biden
antifa
Arafat, Yasser
archaeologist

After:

airstrike
a.m., p.m.
American Dream
“Amtrak Joe” Biden, President-elect Biden
antifa
Arafat, Yasser
archaeologist

Plus:

• President-elect Biden (lowercase “elect”) in running copy; President-Elect Biden in headlines
• Vice President–elect Harris (en dash, option+hyphen); Vice President–Elect Harris in headlines
• Lowercase titles when not preceding names: The president-elect tweeted. If a spoken quote has “Madam Vice President,” Madam not Madame.

Had to be done. Trump is still president for the next 10 weeks, so bear in mind that “lame-duck” gets hyphenated as an adjective, and stays open as a noun. And these things matter, like when Fox News told its anchors not to call Biden “president-elect” when it called the race, according to two internal memos, before the network changed its tune in the face of overwhelming facts. Read our style guide, and send suggestions, here.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

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