Topical Guides

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2016 Sept. 11 Style and Reference Guide

To help with standard phrasing and consistency of coverage of the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, The Associated Press has revised its Sept. 11 Style and Reference Guide. Some of the items are included in the AP Stylebook, but the majority are based on AP usage that has developed over time. As you'll see, it includes guidance on spelling, pronunciation, frequently used terms and a timeline of events as they unfolded.
Acceptable in all references to describe the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Not 9-11 or 911.
9/11 Commission
Acceptable in all references for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
7:59 a.m. – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people on board, takes off from Boston's Logan International Airport for Los Angeles.
8:14 a.m. – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people on board, takes off from Logan for Los Angeles.
8:20 a.m. – American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 with 64 people on board, takes off from Washington Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles.
8:37 a.m. – Federal Aviation Administration notifies North American Aerospace Defense Command about suspected hijacking of Flight 11.
8:42 a.m. – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people on board, takes off from Newark International Airport for San Francisco.
8:46 a.m. – Flight 11 crashes into north tower of World Trade Center.
8:52 a.m. – Attendant on Flight 175 notifies United Airlines of hijacking.
9:03 a.m. – Flight 175 crashes into south tower.
9:25 a.m. – FAA command center in Herndon, Virginia, tells headquarters about suspected hijacking of Flight 77.
9:31 a.m. – President George W. Bush, in Florida, calls crashes an "apparent terrorist attack on our country."
9:37 a.m. – Flight 77 crashes into Pentagon.
9:42 a.m. – FAA orders all aircraft in U.S. space – more than 4,500 – to land at nearest airport.
9:45 a.m. – Evacuation of U.S. Capitol and White House ordered.
9:59 a.m. – South tower of trade center collapses.
10:03 a.m. – Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania field.
10:28 a.m. – North tower of trade center collapses.
11:02 a.m. – New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders evacuation of lower Manhattan.
2:50 p.m. – Bush arrives at Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
5:20 p.m.– Empty 47-story 7 World Trade Center collapses.
8:30 p.m. – Bush addresses the nation from the White House, saying, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."
TIMELINE SOURCES: Sept. 11 memorial foundation; 9/11 Commission Report; "The Ground Truth" by John Farmer, senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission
airline, airlines
Capitalize airlines, air lines and airways when used as part of a proper airline name. American Airlines, United Airlines.
Capitalize as part of a proper name: LaGuardia Airport, O'Hare International Airport.The first name of an individual and the word international may be deleted from a formal airport name while the remainder is capitalized: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Kennedy International Airport, or Kennedy Airport. Use whichever is appropriate in the context.
Do not make up names, however. There is no Boston Airport, for example. The Boston airport (lowercase airport) would be acceptable if for some reason the proper name, Logan International Airport, were not used.
Newark International Airport was renamed Newark Liberty International Airport after Sept. 11.
Muslim militant group founded by Osama bin Laden that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in May 2011. Al-Qaida's current leader is Ayman al-Zawahri. Pronounced al-KAH'-ee-dah.
Flight 93
Acceptable in first reference for United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Include airline name and context of crash in a subsequent reference. Flight 93 memorial is acceptable in all references for the Flight 93 National Memorial at the crash site.
ground zero
Acceptable term for the World Trade Center complex destroyed on Sept. 11. Best used to reference the site on 9/11 or during the cleanup operation, before the new complex began rising.
The flights they hijacked, where the planes crashed, their full names, their names on second reference and their pronunciation. Note that in Arabic, stressed syllables don't tend to be stressed hard.
American Airlines Flight 11 (World Trade Center's north tower): Mohamed Atta (Atta), moh-HAM'-ad AT'-ta; Wail Alshehri (Alshehri), WAH'-ihl ahl-SHEH'-ree; Waleed M. Alshehri (Alshehri), wah-LEED' ahl-SHEH'-ree; Abdulaziz Alomari (Alomari), ab-dool-ah-ZEEZ' ahl-OH'-mah-ree; Satam al-Suqami (al-Suqami), sah-TAHM' ahl-SOO'-kah-mee.
United Flight 175 (World Trade Center's south tower): Marwan al-Shehhi (al-Shehhi), mar-WAHN' ahl SHEH'-hee; Fayez Ahmed (Ahmed), FY'-ez AH'-med; Ahmed Alghamdi (Alghamdi), AH'-med ahl-GAHM'-ehd-ee; Hamza Alghamdi (Alghamdi), HAHM'-zah ahl-GAHM'-ehd-ee; Mohand Alshehri (Alshehri), moh-HAN'-nehd ahl-SHEH'-ree.
American Airlines Flight 77 (Pentagon): Hani Hanjour (Hanjour), HA'-nee han-JOOR'; Khalid Almihdhar (Almihdhar), KHAL'-lehd al-meh-DAHR'; Majed Moqed (Moqed), MAH'-jehd mah-GEED'; Nawaf al-Hazmi (al-Hazmi), nah-WAF' ahl-HAZ'-mee; Salem al-Hazmi (al-Hazmi), SA'-lihm ahl-HAZ'-mee.
United Airlines Flight 93 (Pennsylvania): Ziad Samir Jarrah (Jarrah), zih-YAD' sah-MEER' ahl-jar-RAH'; Saeed Alghamdi (Alghamdi), sah-EED' al-GAHM'-ehd-ee; Ahmed Alhaznawi (Alhaznawi), AH'-mehd ahl-HAZ'-nah-wee; Ahmed Alnami (Alnami), AH'-mehd ahl-NAH'-mee.
Islamic State group
Islamic militant organization that took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, where it declared a caliphate, a traditional form of Islamic rule. It is made up of Sunni militants from Iraq and Syria, as well as jihadi fighters from across the Muslim world and Europe. It grew out of al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, which arose after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, and it eventually broke with the terror network. The group is abbreviated as IS. Daesh (DAH'-esh) is the Arabic abbreviation of the name and is used only in quotations.
An advocate or supporter of a political movement that favors reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. Do not use as a synonym for Islamic fighters, militants, extremists or radicals, who may or may not be Islamists. Where possible, be specific and use the name of militant affiliations: al-Qaida-linked, Hezbollah, Taliban, etc. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadis.
Arabic noun used to refer to the Islamic concept of the struggle to do good. In particular situations, that can include holy war, the meaning extremist Muslims commonly use. Use jihadi and jihadis to refer to armed militants who wage what they consider holy war with violent attacks against the West, Muslims they consider insufficiently devout, and other rivals, such as al-Qaida, whose 9/11 attacks still stand as the deadliest single incident. Do not use jihadist.
Lower Manhattan Development Corp.
Use in first reference for the agency created to help New York recover from the Sept. 11 attacks. Rebuilding agency or the agency are acceptable in subsequent references.
One World Trade Center
The official name of the tallest skyscraper built at the new World Trade Center complex. Formerly but still colloquially known as the Freedom Tower.
The headquarters of the Department of Defense, struck by American Airlines Flight 77. Located in Arlington, Virginia.
The preferred spelling for the Muslim holy book. Use the spelling Koran only if preferred by a specific organization or in a specific title or name.
Sept. 11
The term for describing the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Use 2001 if needed for clarity. Also acceptable is 9/11.
Sept. 11 memorial
Acceptable in all references to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at ground zero. Add location for clarity if story references other memorials with similar names.
twin towers
Lowercase this popular term for referring to the two tallest buildings in the World Trade Center complex destroyed on Sept. 11. Also lowercase north tower and south tower.
The Sept. 11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people:
  • 2,750 in New York in the World Trade Center attack.
  • 3 who subsequently died of respiratory disease linked to the towers' collapse have since been added to the official victim count kept by New York City's medical examiner.
  • 40 in Pennsylvania.
  • 184 at the Pentagon.
  • Total: 2,977.
  • 2,983 names are listed on the Sept. 11 memorial, including six who died in the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing.
World Trade Center
Name of the partially completed complex of buildings that replaced the seven of the same name destroyed on Sept. 11. The complex also includes the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The tallest building is One World Trade Center.
If necessary for clarity, refer to the new World Trade Center complex, or to the old or destroyed trade center complex or twin towers, or to ground zero.

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