What is a Dateline?
In the context of a press release, a “dateline” refers to the line at the beginning of the article that indicates where and when the information was reported. It typically consists of the city, often followed by the state or country, and then the date. The dateline provides context for the reader, giving them an understanding of where the reported events took place and when the information was gathered.
For instance, if a press release is about an event that took place in New York City on September 16, 2023, the dateline might look like this:
NEW YORK, NY (September 16, 2023)
Following the dateline, the press release will delve into the main content or body of the news being conveyed. The presence of a dateline helps establish the timeliness and relevance of the information being presented.
Even though there are different types of press releases, the formatting is generally the same. So, it’s vital that you learn how to present these details clearly.
This article will give you several tips to help you understand how to write a dateline for your press releases.
A press release dateline is important for validating when and where the news originated.
There are two distinct methods for writing a dateline. Both are valid, but one is more common and easier to follow.
Typically, press release tips suggest using the AP style for the dateline. We recommend using AP Style unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise, because that is the most commonly accepted format today.
But another option has existed for many years before this format was created. The newspaper style was commonly used when the media outlets worked primarily with newspapers and radio.
A newspaper dateline style is when you write when and where the story occurred. Always put the location first, followed by the day. This style is uncommon, depending on where you’re sending the press release. And you need to double-check before using it to see if it’s suitable.
So, an easier option is to use the AP format.
AP stands for the Associated Press, and this formatting style is commonly used in reporting and marketing. Most public relations and publishing businesses use the AP style for their work as it’s clear and creates a uniform look to the text.
This is one of the most popular ways to present the dateline, and it’s not too difficult to remember. For example, the AP style for writing a dateline is to put the city’s name in capital letters.
When writing a press release dateline, you must use the state abbreviation, not the zip code abbreviation.
Always use numerals for the year and abbreviate the months, such as Feb., Sept., Oct., etc…
If the dateline is recent, it’s important that you still follow the rules for dates and months. Don’t use “yesterday” or other words that are not clear. It needs to be factual and concise, which is why you need to use the AP style.
City Names In Datelines – AP Style
City names should always be written out in all capitals, followed by a comma.
Normally, the city name is followed by a comma, then the abbreviated state name. However, the AP Stylebook lists 30 city names which should not be followed by a state name. They are:
SALT LAKE CITY
State Names In Datelines – AP Style
State names should always be abbreviated in datelines. However, using the traditional two-letter post office abbreviations we’re all so familiar with is not appropriate according to the AP Stylebook.
The proper abbreviations for state name in an AP style datelines are:
|State||AP Style Dateline Abbreviation|
|Alaska||Alaska (Never Abbreviated)|
|Hawaii||Hawaii (Never Abbreviated)|
|Idaho||Idaho (Never Abbreviated)|
|Iowa||Iowa (Never Abbreviated)|
|Maine||Maine (Never Abbreviated)|
|Ohio||Ohio (Never Abbreviated)|
|Texas||Texas (Never Abbreviated)|
|Utah||Utah (Never Abbreviated)|
You’ll notice there are 6 state names which are never abbreviated in an AP style dateline: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.
Also, the District of Columbia has no abbreviation listed, not because it’s not a state, but because the city of Washington does not require a state name.
AP Style City and State Examples
SALT LAKE CITY
KANSAS CITY, Kan.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
Dates in AP Style Datelines
In a properly formatted AP style dateline, the name of the city and state is followed by the date the news was announced, enclosed in parentheses.
Dates are formatted as month, day, year.
Longer month names use the three- or four-letter abbreviations, shorter month names are fully spelled out.
The day contains just the number, (no nd, rd, st, or th) and is followed by a comma and a space.
All four numbers of the year are used.
AP Style Date Examples
(March 3, 2024)
(Sept. 20, 2023)
Times in AP Style Datelines
Times are increasingly being included in datelines due to electronic distribution.
If times are included in the dateline, the date is followed by a comma then a space, then the time, including a.m. or p.m., and the time zone.
Only hours are listed, followed by a space, then a.m. or p.m. (noon and midnight are written out,) followed by another space, then the time zone abbreviation.
Standard two- or three-letter time zone abbreviations are used: ET for Eastern Time, PT for Pacific time, CET for Central European Time, GMT for Greenwich Mean Time, etc.
AP Style Date Examples with Times Included
(May 14, 2025, 3 p.m. ET)
(Dec. 31, 2023, midnight PT)
(June 1, 2024, 4 p.m. CET)
Putting it all together, here are examples of datelines in AP style:
AP Style Dateline Examples
NEW YORK, NY (Oct. 15, 2024, 10 a.m. ET)
LOS ANGELES (Mar. 1, 2025, 6 a.m. PT)
MINNEAPOLIS (Dec. 31, 2024)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (June 18, 2025)
When drafting your press release, it’s vital that you take into consideration the details like geography and time. This will influence how you write the dateline on the final copy.
The dateline looks different for offline and online press release pages. Online you need to have the date and other relevant information. Including the time zone is good for indicating where the text originated to international audiences. As online platforms connect you to broad audiences, this is essential for preventing confusion.
The dateline should be written without grammar errors, which means the city should be capitalized where necessary. Plus, the state or country needs to be enclosed in brackets or parentheses. AP style permits the use of brackets after the city. The choice between parenthesis and brackets is down to your preference.
Brackets are more modern and look sleek on the press release. But, parenthesis is recognizable and effective for highlighting the information. So, you can mix it up with brackets or keep it traditional.
Again, think about your brand and the message you want to convey with the press release. Your font and use of brackets or parenthesis should reflect the overall tone of your brand.
It’s also possible to use a comma before the date, which can make the text more coherent. Weigh up the options and try different styles to find the one that looks best in your press release.
Sometimes, the dateline must be altered if the news announcement is postponed or there’s been a mistake with previous information. To avoid the risk of being seen as fraudulent, it’s advised that you add a “revised” word to the dateline. This way, people know that the original information was not incorrect but has been edited.
Transparency is crucial for building a trustworthy brand and writing an inspiring press release. So, don’t be afraid to add “revised” if you have to update the dateline.
Even though you can lose money by printing incorrect press releases, printing a new batch or sending out updated datelines is better for maintaining credibility. This is where it’s helpful to have an extra pair of eyes looking over the information with you.
Giving your press releases or hiring a team to create them for you ensures that you don’t run into dateline mistakes like grammar issues or the wrong date. These professionals can read over the other details, like headers and book descriptions, to check everything is there.
It can be lifesaving to have a reliable team to turn to during the writing process when you need to follow AP style guides.
Need help writing a press release that will get you results?
Instead of spending your time looking up AP style guides and focusing on tiny details, create the perfect press release dateline with an experienced team. To most people, a dateline is just a short sentence that does not impact your business, but it can set the wrong impression if it’s full of errors.
A press release directly represents your brand, so it needs to be high-quality and formatted correctly.
Ready to learn more about our prices for your press release? Get in contact here to talk to our team today.