Three Advanced AP Style Rules Worth Remembering

AP_Style_Rules_to_RememberConsistency in messaging is crucial in establishing a brand identity for your company. It’s not just in the words you use, either. The grammar and punctuation of your messages also has an impact.

The AP Stylebook is the holy grail of grammar and punctuation rules for journalists and media professionals, including PR pros. You’ll find a copy of the guide on everyone’s desk in our office, but it’s still common to hear someone call out, “What’s AP style for…” while in the middle of writing.

Here are a few of our most commonly used AP style rules:

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New AP Guidelines: Keep it Brief

AP_RGBThis is a short news article about how news articles are becoming shorter.

The world’s largest independent news organization, the Associated Press, for one, has told its journalists to cut the fat — and keep their stories between 300 and 500 words, a length in which this story (301 words) would easily fit.

That’s 500 words, max, on just about every one of the 2,000 or so stories AP journalists report each day, from ballgames to bomb blasts to the latest political skulduggery.

AP Style

AP Style Guide: Purdue Online Writing Lab

  • Names: Full name on first reference. Only last name with no titles after that.

Example: Adam Chiara, a professor at UHart, taught a class on AP style. Chiara knew his students would dislike him for it. 

  • Titles: Capitalize a title if it’s before the name. If used after, it’s lowercase.

Example: Professor Adam Chiara is considering running for president. Chiara has only been a professor; he has never been a governor or the president. 

  • Quotes: Commas and periods inside the quotation mark. If the quote is the beginning of the sentence, the first letter is capital. If the quote is a continuation, the first letter is lowercase.

Example: “This challenge is the real deal,” Chiara said. He said it’s not the time that’s the problem. “It’s hard for me to get up early in the morning.” 

  • Location: Town, Conn.

Example: He was born in Hartford, Conn., where he still lives today. He wants to move to Danbury, Conn.

However, if you just mention the state, it is written out.

Example: He lives in Connecticut

  • Dates: Oct. 21

The event is on Oct. 21, at the XL Center.

However, if there is no date, the month is written out.

Example: He was born in October.

  • Numbers: Zero to nine is written out. 10 and higher is a number (unless the paragraph starts with a number, then write it out).
  • Time: 5 a.m.  3:15 p.m.
  • Money: $100,000 — $1 million — $7.25
  • Abbreviation or Acronym: Don’t follow an organization’s formal name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses or dashes.

Correct: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported 589 cases of animal abandonment last year. Julie Knows, ASPCA’s director of important things, said abandonment cases have declined by 5 percent compared with the previous year.

Incorrect: The first official meeting of NAPS (Newly Appointed Presidents of Speech) will be held at noon. Microphones and pillows will be provided. If you’re wondering whether to use an abbreviation, ask yourself whether it will be clear upon second reference. If not, write the full name or a recognizable, shortened version (for example, “the association”).

  • Headlines: only the first word, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns should be capitalized.

Correct: How marketers can easily create infographics

Incorrect: How I Learned To Incorrectly Write A Headline