Here's what I'm talking about:

PALO ALTO, Calif., January 5, 2016 — Example Inc. today delivered on the promise to reinvent the PC by bringing premium consumer design into a commercial-grade device

From what I found, my understanding is that this might be a requirement outlined in the Associated Press stylebook - at least that's where the custom state abbreviations are defined.

I'm trying to understand why is it like that. I've seen that approach used in a press release issued by a large IT corporation (quoted above), as well as a lot of radio presenters and major news agencies, so there must be a convention. At the same time, Reuters only does this in some articles, and I couldn't figure out the dependency.

Please clarify!

  • So that you know when and where they happened? Especially for archival purposes
    – GordonM
    Sep 8, 2017 at 15:29

5 Answers 5


I'm pretty sure it originates as a Journalism style. It is a newspaper era journalism technique and ultimately I think its an easy and quick way for journalists to answer two of the important 'W's right off the bat. As soon as you begin reading you know where and when, and the story can focus on explaining the who, what, and why. It saves print.

With all the many forms of media out now, it is not as rigid a tradition as in former generations, but it is still an easy way to shorten the key points of the story if one is to save copy.

  • 1
    For example, now the location can be conveniently hidden in a tag cloud that no one pays attention to.
    – corsiKa
    Feb 1, 2016 at 23:49
  • 1
    I wish more websites and posts used this too! A lot of times I end up wasting time reading something which is completely outdated.
    – Joe
    Feb 3, 2016 at 8:46
  • 2
    I’m undecided about the where, but it truly irks me when blog posts do not include a date, especially if they then go on to talk about “recently” and “just last week”.
    – user2686
    Feb 6, 2016 at 3:16
  • Where, when, who, what, how, why... I don't have the full list but is the least you need to do a new. Lacking any of this will make your info without context or without content.
    – Billeeb
    Sep 7, 2017 at 22:41

This is called a dateline.

Look at the relevant Wikipedia article for a guide to proper formatting and links to the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press style guides.

Contrary to what the Wikipedia article claims, the dateline does not (necessarily) describe "where and when the story occurred", but where and when the news originated. I have read several newspaper articles where the dateline referred to, for example, an embassy in my country (which became clear from explanations in text), while the actual news took place in the home country of that embassy. Similarly the death of an explorer is often not reported by journalists on site, but relayed through their agents whose offices and press conferences are in turn credited in the dateline.

The origin of the news or feature story, and thus the DATELINE preceding it, is a matter of editorial decision making. It does not arise from a location fixed inevitably at a named locale of given latitude and longitude. The latidude belongs to the editor. Thus where news happens is wherever a news editor decides that the newsworthy situation took place, or where a news-peg could be found. (Grady Clay, Real Places, 1994, p. 15)

Here is an example from a recent article in the New York Times:

enter image description here

As you can read, the event described happened in Bavaria, while the datline gives "Cologne" (not in Bavaria) as the origin of the news. Apparently, when she wrote the story, author Melissa Eddy was still in Cologne for the carnival.

In another example, this one from Reuters, the author reports on events in Brazil from Chicago:

enter image description here

As for the proper formatting (and inclusion) of a dateline, you need to refer to the house style of whoever you are writing for.


In a news story it is very, very common that you will need to specify the place and the date. A convention that you put it at the beginning of the article is more concisely than working it into the text, and makes it easy to find when people are referring to a newspaper article long after the fact. Sure, you could say, "There was an earthquake in Someville yesterday, January 31, 2016, registering 6.2 on the Richter scale ..." But putting it up front saves a couple of words and probably more important, makes it less likely that you'll forget to say. When you're writing the story, it's obviously "here" and "today", so I can see it being easy to forget to mention that. The reader, of course, may read it days or years from now and could be anywhere.


The dateline shows when and where the story was written (or filed), not merely where the events occurred. Newspapers and other news services spend a lot of money to send reporters overseas. An overseas dateline tells the reader that they are getting the news from someone who was close to the event, rather than a second-hand account.


A dateline must be where the reporter reported from. As an analogue to web publishing, it is a location and timestamp on an article. For example, an earthquake may occur in a remote part of Brazil, and the dateline would be RIO DI JANEIRO if that's where the report was filed from (the reporter sat in an office in Rio and gathered the news and filed the report from there).

If you are filing for AP (Associated Press) or are a member newspaper, you use AP style for datelines. This includes which cities need or don't need state names, what abbreviations to use for states (hint, not postal abbreviations), etc.

Some might see datelines as archaic, but they absolutely serve a purpose in any filed report where the location and time of filing matter.

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