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AP Style Rules You Should Never Forget

What is AP Style?

AP Style is a set of rules used in writing for standards in usage, spelling, grammar, punctuation and language usage. The rules are most used for content in newspapers, magazines and public relations firms. Therefore, basic knowledge of AP Style writing is important for anyone working or wishing to work in fields related to journalism, PR, marketing and mass communication.


Why is AP Style important?

AP Style rules help to keep writing style easy to read, concise and free of bias. The rules aim to keep consistency, clarity, accuracy and brevity across this type of writing. Many journalists and news reporters have less time than ever, so the use of AP Style writing helps to make their jobs easier. It is very important for PR students specifically, to learn AP Style because effective communication leads to successful communications efforts and campaigns.


The following list of rules is certainly not exhaustive as there are thousands of standards in the Associated Press Stylebook relating to grammar, punctuation and spelling. There can always be exceptions to these rules and the AP Stylebook changes a little every year. Be sure to keep up on the rules and check in the book or the website if you are unsure!


5 AP Style Rules You Should Never Forget


· Numbers

o Spell out whole numbers below 10 and numerals that start a sentence

-The man had six children and 12 grandchildren

o For large numbers, use a hyphen to connect words ending in “y” to another word

-Twenty-one or seventy-six


· Days vs. Dates

o Always use numerals without st, nd, rd or th in dates

o Avoid using yesterday, today and tomorrow

o When writing about events, use months and dates

-April 30

o When referring to a month, day and year, set off year with commas

-Aug. 20, 1964, was the day they went to the beach.


· People

o Capitalize formal titles before a name. Do not separate title from name with a comma

o Titles after a name should stand alone and are almost never capitalized

-I saw President Biden.

- Joe Biden, U.S. president, attended the meeting.

o Always use a person’s first and last name for the first time they are mentioned in a story and use last names on second reference


· Places

o Compass directions should be lowercase

-The wind is coming from the east.

o Capitalize names of U.S regions

-The Northeast is cold in the winter while the Southeast is warm


· States

o Spell out names of states unless preceded by a city, country or military base name

o Abbreviate city and state when used together

o Spell out Alaska and Hawaii and states with five or fewer letters

o For second reference, abbreviate all states names

-I lived in Oklahoma.

-I lived in Tulsa, Okla.



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