How to Write About Winter

Grammar Rule Upfront (GRUF): Both “The Associated Press Stylebook” and “The Chicago Manual of Style” prefer to keep all seasons lowercase, as in “winter.” However, both style guides outline exceptions to this rule.

Winter is coming. Actually, as of Dec. 21, 2018, winter is officially here. This day marks the winter solstice, which is followed by the longest night of the year. If you’re preparing your seasonally-themed blog posts, social media campaigns, emails, and newsletters, read on to get the cold facts on how to properly write about winter.

How to Write Winter in Chicago Style

My husband tells me all about the formidable winters in his home city of Chicago. And although they may be a force in the Windy City, “The Chicago Manual of Style” (CMOS) keeps the season humbly lowercase, as it does with all four seasons.

Example: “A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.”

Exception to the CMOS winter rule

CMOS reserves the capitalization of winter when it’s listed as part of the date that denotes a journal issue. This rule is reiterated in the CMOS 19th edition 1.80, 8.88, and 14.171.

Example: Cato Institute 41, no. 4 (Winter 2018-2019)

How to Write Winter in AP Style

Like Chicago, The Associated Press Stylebook instructs to lowercase references to the chilliest season in most references, along with all the other seasons.

Example: “Now is the winter of our discontent.” – William Shakespeare

Exception to the AP Style winter rule

The AP Stylebook makes it a point to clarify that formal titles with winter in the name calls for a capitalization of the season. This goes for all seasons, and though it’s not specified in CMOS, it’s safe practice to capitalize seasons that are part of proper nouns in that style as well.

Example: Winter Olympics

When Does Winter 2018 Start?

Winter officially blustered its way into the northern hemisphere at exactly 5:23 p.m. Eastern Time on Dec. 21, 2018. But why that exact time and date? The answer is in the stars, or more specifically our galaxy’s star the sun. The degree of the earth’s tilt toward the sun affects the amount of daylight we get depending on where we are in our rotation around the sun. Winter begins on the day that we get the least amount of sunlight and the longest night of the year – or the winter solstice.

What Is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, but it also brings some rays of hope. The sunlight following the first day of winter will linger a little bit longer with each successive day until reaching the summer solstice, with the next one occurring in March 2019.

Humans have recognized and revered the natural and astronomical phenomenon of the shortest day and longest night of the winter solstice since ancient times. According to History.com, Stone Henge is oriented toward the winter solstice sunset for what is believed to be Pagan rituals.

Whether you’re dreading the winter darkness or celebrating the solstice, here’s to longer days ahead and proper copy writing about winter.

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