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Old 03-09-2007, 02:59 AM   #1
Sohia Rose
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AP Style - Square Feet?

Okay, this is driving me nuts. I looked through my AP Stylebook (2006) and couldn't find how to write this: 875,655 square feet. As I wrote it, it struck me to look it up, didn't seem right.

My (news) story is due soon and I like to have as clean of a copy as possible when I turn it in (so I won't look like an idiot!). So could'ya help me out?

Do I write out "square feet" or "sq ft" or somethin' else?
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Old 03-09-2007, 03:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sohia Rose View Post
Okay, this is driving me nuts. I looked through my AP Stylebook (2006) and couldn't find how to write this: 875,655 square feet. As I wrote it, it struck me to look it up, didn't seem right.

My (news) story is due soon and I like to have as clean of a copy as possible when I turn it in (so I won't look like an idiot!). So could'ya help me out?

Do I write out "square feet" or "sq ft" or somethin' else?
I've always used sqft or ft2. But then, I'm an engineer.
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Old 03-09-2007, 04:30 AM   #3
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Square feet is fine.

Or sq. feet.
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Old 03-09-2007, 06:02 AM   #4
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I might abbreviate it as Sq. Ft. I like the ft-superscript-2 thing (though I don't care to type high-eigth-bit characters) as I'm an engineer too, but I'd be concerned some people might not understand. OTOH, there are a lot of people who don't understand what "square feet" are.
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Old 03-09-2007, 06:26 AM   #5
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SpongeBob has square feet.
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Old 03-09-2007, 07:11 AM   #6
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My feet are sort of curvy. I'd have to go with more like a figure eight than a square.

Sorry to be no help. Math type things aren't my department.

BTW, I looked it up in my CP (Canadian Press) style book but, alas, it's only got metric. The conversion table, though, says to write it as: sq. feet.
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:27 PM   #7
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What I would do is write "875,655 square feet (ft2)" the first time, and every other time I referred to any amount of square feet in the rest of the article, just put "ft2". Obviously, if this is the only reference to square feet in the article, you don't have to bother with the (ft2) bit.

But then, what is this article for? Is it for a technical journal? In which case, the readers will know what ft2 means. If it's for a worldwide audience, you may also wish to convert to square metres afterwards. I think the States is pretty well the only place that still uses Imperial measures. (And before everyone howls and jumps on my back, I'm probably wrong about that! But Canada, Europe, etc, are metric. When we do reports to Council at work, (I work for a Canadian municipality), we put measurements in metric first, followed by Imperial in square brackets.)

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Old 03-09-2007, 02:38 PM   #8
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I would use square feet.

By the way, this isn't a land mearsurement is it? In that case I would use acres.
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Old 03-09-2007, 05:59 PM   #9
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My AP Stylebook is so old it measures in cubits, but my gut, usually fairly reliable, suggests that for a news story in the US press, you'd be fine with "square feet."

Hey, it works for Gumby, damn it!

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Old 03-09-2007, 07:07 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone. I just used "square feet."

The paper usually goes with AP style, but with a few of their own. I turned it in last night, so I'll see what the copy editor did with it.
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Old 03-09-2007, 07:26 PM   #11
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The metric conversion chart in the AP Style guide has sq. feet, but that isn't an indication that that is how to present it in copy.

Funny how those abbrevations aren't listed. I think my copy is as old as Maryn's, too.

ETA: Found it, it's under Dimensions. It says "Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc. to indicate depth, height, length, and width."
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:11 PM   #12
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Yeh, I was pressed for time (it was going to be a cover story), so the managing editor was breathing down my neck to get it in quickly. We're talking about over 1500 words in less than two hours. That included my own editing and organization from notes with quotes and research information, not to mention I had to stop a couple of times to fact check.

I thought about subscribing to the AP style, online edition so I could use the "search" feature.
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Old 03-10-2007, 06:37 AM   #13
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Yep, Dimensions. It's one of those hidden entries.
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Old 03-10-2007, 06:40 AM   #14
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Ironic that I found this AFTER wondering about the same dilemma for the exact same reason today (working on a magazine article on a tight deadline). I used square feet as well. We'll see if my editor likes it that way or not.
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Old 03-10-2007, 10:16 AM   #15
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Depends on what kind of prose you're writing. If you're writing standard fiction or nonfiction for a nonspecialize audience, spell it out. "Square feet" is fine (personally, mine are pretty elongated).

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