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Anecdotes inspired by latest Editor’s Note | Letter


August 12, 2015

Editor, The Beacon:

Your column on the AP Stylebook reminded me of two of my own anecdotes [“The AP Stylebook is my bible,” Aug. 5, page 4]:

1. When our journalism class at Northeastern University was introduced to the AP Stylebook in the early 1970s, we were curious about the entry for SNAFU, which simply read, "Never use this acronym, for obvious reasons."

Those reasons may have been obvious to the World War II generation, but us Baby Boomers were clueless. Our somewhat embarrassed professor had to explain that SNAFU was GI shorthand for "Situation Normal – All [Expletive] Up."

Later, in the 1998 movie "Saving Private Ryan," Tom Hanks' army squad would use the alternative FUBAR, short for “[Expletive] Up Beyond All Recognition.”

2. The Stylebook includes a list of major cities that may be mentioned without specifying their states (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc). One day in the 1990s, I asked a colleague about a certain somewhat smaller city, and he said, "Just use the Major League rule."

He meant that any city large enough to have a Major League baseball team was large enough to mention without specifying the state. It was an inexact but useful shortcut guide until expansion took teams to more obscure places like Tampa.

Dave Speights,



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