LAO Style

Editing Philosophy

The Los Angeles Observer strives to have the lightest editing hand possible. We correct contributors’ minor formatting issues. Maintaining the author’s tone and persona is more important than conforming to any strict LAO style or sensibility.

AP Style

The Los Angeles Observer uses a modified Associated Press Style.

Exceptions to AP Style

LAO uses AP Style with the following modifications:

  • Bold, Italic, & Underline – LAO uses italics for the titles of works (see below); therefore, we do not use italics for emphasis. For emphasis, use bold. Sparingly. Bold-italic should be avoided, except in the rare case of needing to emphasize the title of a work. Underlined words on the World Wide Web signify links; therefore, underlines should not be used for titles or emphasis, only for links. Unless the title is also a link.
  • Citing a work of art – Author, Title, year, medium, dimensions (HxWxD, if necessary), collection, city. E.g.: Ellsworth Kelly, Green Angle, 1970, oil on canvas, 5.867 x 17.78 m, The Broad, Los Angeles.
  • Comma, Oxford – yes!
  • Names of Colleges and Universities – see below.
  • Numbers – at the start of a sentence, spell out up to one hundred, use figures for 101 and above. Or, rewrite sentence. Inside a sentence, AP Style: spell out one through nine, and use figures for 10 and above.
  • Numbers, Dimensions of a work of art – dimensions follow the work’s medium and are listed in order of Height x Width and, if applicable, x Depth. eg: “oil on canvas, 45 x 38 cm”, “Bronze, 49 x 22 x 16 in.”
  • Numbers, Fractions – no space between a whole number and a fraction. See how to type fractions below.
  • Titles of Works – MLA Style, see below

Names of Colleges and Universities

  • California State University, Los Angeles, on first use, then CSULA
  • East Los Angeles College, on first use, then ELAC
  • Long Beach State University, on first use, then LBSU
  • Santa Monica College, on first use, then SMC
  • UCLA or USC, on first use. No periods between letters and no need to spell out on first use.

Style Questions?



MLA Style for titles of works

Italics“In Quotation Marks”
Books“Book Chapters”
Websites“Web pages”
News publications“News articles”
Journals“Journal articles”
TV shows“TV episodes”
Magazines“Magazine articles”
Anthologies“Short stories”
Films“YouTube videos”
Visual art with title: Starry NightVisual art without title: Chair of stained oak
MLA style for titles of works, from

How to type fractions

To type 53/4 inches:

  1. First type the 5
  2. Then without a space select “X2 Superscript” from the “v” more type styles drop down in the formatting ribbon.
  3. Type the numerator. In this case, “3”
  4. Then go to the dropdown again to de-select “X2 Superscript” (it’s sticky and will stay in superscript mode till you click it again)
  5. Type the “/”
  6. Back to the dropdown, select “X2 Subscript”
  7. Type the denominator. In this case, “4”
  8. Back to the dropdown and de-select “X2 Subscript”
  9. Finally type a space and “inches” or some other unit of measure.