AP style, not to be confused with APA, is the style used in The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, commonly known as the AP Stylebook. First published in 1953, the AP Stylebook was created by journalists working for the Associated Press, in order to standardize mass communications. The book contains guidelines for capitalization, grammar, abbreviation, and principles of reporting. Despite being created by and for journalists, its usage has grown to include corporations, public relations firms, marketing, magazine publishing, and others. Although many newspapers and magazines do have their own style preferences, it’s generally expected that if you’re considering pursuing a career in journalism, that you have a strong familiarity with and are adept at using AP style guidelines.
Main themes of AP style include consistency, clarity, brevity, and accuracy. It’s also important to use language that is not offensive, as well as any stereotypes in writing. The stylebook has sections on guidelines for covering business and sports, including basic knowledge, terminology, and correct usage of terms; a section on punctuation, including quotations; basic review of media law; photo captions; editing marks and their meanings; and a bibliography, for reference materials journalists should look at if their question is not in the stylebook. It’s updated annually, with new versions typically coming out over the summer. There’s also a website, as well as an app for easy reference.
Even with the manual, app, and all the tip sheets that are online, formatting can be incredibly time consuming — especially if it’s your first time formatting a large document in a style that doesn’t come naturally to you. We can help! Our editors have years of experience editing and formatting professional and academic papers, including formatting in AP style.
Surprising Things You Might Not Know about AP Style
If you’re not familiar with AP Style, it can seem a little counter-intuitive at times, which is why having the physical book is always helpful (the newest version will be published in June) – or at least the app. Here are some guidelines in AP style that might surprise you!
When states are used, spell out the entire name of the state, except when used as a political affiliation. If a city and state are used, spell out the city name, but you can abbreviate the state per AP style preferences, which are different than the postal code abbreviations.
Technological terms have a set format, i.e.: cellphone not cell phone; webmaster not web master; email not e-mail; e-book not ebook, and so forth.
Use one space after a period.
It’s suggested to spell out the word “percent,” and to use the symbol % in tabular information.
Only abbreviate a month if it refers to a specific date.
Spell out academic degrees (i.e., bachelor’s degree), except when used in a list of credentials after a name.
Try to avoid acronyms. Spell out on first mention (i.e., Board of Education), and in subsequent uses, try to say things like “the board.”
If you’re struggling with AP style, let us know! We have a team of editors and formatting experts who can format your dissertation, thesis, or paper, or have a one-on-one phone consultation with you to discuss where you’re stuck, questions you might have, and how to move forward. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help take your document to the next level.