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.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

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