Associated Press Style


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This presentation explains why AP Style is essential for public relations practitioners and journalists. It covers the 10 most commonly-used AP Style rules. And it features links to practice quizzes.

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Associated Press Style

  1. 1. Why it Matters • Different types of writing follow different style guidelines. For example, in your other college courses, you may be required to adhere to the MLA, Turabian or APA styles guides. In journalism and public relations, you must know Associated Press Style.
  2. 2. Why it Matters • Therefore, you must know Associated Press style if you intend to get a job in the media or public relations.
  3. 3. Why it Matters • Strictly following a particular usage style provides consistency, accuracy and clarity in grammar, punctuation and other language issues.
  4. 4. Why it Matters • While some publications, such as The New York Times, have their own unique style, the vast majority of newspapers, magazines and press releases follow the rules of the AP Stylebook. And because communicating with the media is a significant part of public relations, PR practitioners must know and utilize AP style, as well.
  5. 5. Why it Matters • AP style aims to be totally accurate, clear to anyone with a high school education and inoffensive (curse words are generally avoided, for example) -- all while being as succinct as possible. Note that AP style differs significantly from style guides typically used in English classes, such as the APA and Oxford style guides.
  6. 6. How to Study • Read some of your AP Stylebook every day. Keep it handy and refer to it often. You probably won't be able to memorize everything inside the book, but you should at least remember common style issues (such as the aforementioned rules) and be familiar enough with the book that you can look up other issues quickly when you're writing on deadline.
  7. 7. Practice Makes Perfect • Many free practice quizzes are available online.
  8. 8. Top 15 AP Style Rules • The AP Style book contains hundreds of rules. But some come up much more often than others. • What follows are 15 of the most common AP Style rules. You should memorize these. And you must follow these in your writing assignments for this course, or you will lose points.
  9. 9. 1. Use a person's full name and title the first time you mention him or her in an article. For example, write Terrence Ross, professor of communications, not Prof. Ross. Once people have been fully identified, refer to them by last name only. There are exceptions, so always check the AP Stylebook. Also: Do not use courtesy titles such as Mr., Miss, Mrs., or Ms., except in direct quotes or where needed to distinguish between people of the same name. Using courtesy titles may be polite. And The New York Times uses them in its articles. But it is not AP Style.
  10. 10. 2. Capitalize formal titles used before a name. For example, write Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Very long titles may be shortened or summarized unless they are essential to the story, but the shortened form should not be capitalized (for example, you may use spokesperson instead of Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications). Use lowercase when formal titles follow a name (e.g., Rex Tillerson, secretary of state). General titles, such as actor Matt Damon and activist Malala Yousafzai , are lowercased.
  11. 11. 3. Abbreviate months when used with days, and use numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) not ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, etc.). Exceptions are March, April, May, June and July -- write them out, don't abbreviate. For example, write Feb. 2, 2017, not February 2nd, 2017. But, when using only the month and year, spell out the month.
  12. 12. 4. Generally, spell out the numbers zero through nine and use numerals for 10 and higher. Note, however, that numbers used at the beginning of a sentence are spelled out. Example: Five hundred twenty-four students attended. It is better, however, to rewrite the sentence so that it doesn't begin with a number. Example: Attending the event were 524 students from local colleges. Years are one of the exceptions. For example: 2016 was a bad year for investors.
  13. 13. 5. But use numerals even for ages younger than 10. This is another exception to that aforementioned number rule. When used like an adjective, say X-year-old, including the hyphens. Otherwise, don't use the hyphens. For example: the 5-year-old girl kicked her brother, who is 8 years old.
  14. 14. 6. Spell out the word "percent" but use numerals for the actual number. Examples: Participation increased 5 percent. Nearly 28 percent of all students don't like algebra. Exception: use may use the % sign in headlines.
  15. 15. 7. To indicate time, use figures and lowercase letters (9 a.m., 6 p.m.). Put a space between the figure and the letters. Exceptions are noon and midnight. Do not say 12 noon or 12 midnight -- it's redundant.
  16. 16. 8. Spell out abbreviations or acronyms on first reference. For example, use Nassau County Community College the first time you refer to the college in a story. You may use NCCC on any references made after that. Another example would be to use UC only after you have spelled out University Center on first reference. Note: there are some exceptions, such as FBI.
  17. 17. 9. Capitalize names of people, places or things to set them apart from a general group. These include proper nouns such as Mike, Canada, Hudson River, and Garden City High School. But use lowercase for common nouns (i.e. nouns not coupled with a proper name), such as the river or the high school. Also, put a word in lowercase when you have more than one proper noun sharing the word. Example: Nassau and Suffolk counties. Capitalize the first word in a sentence. Refer to the dictionary or AP Stylebook, if needed. When in doubt, use lowercase.
  18. 18. 10. For addresses, abbreviate street, avenue and boulevard when they’re used with a specific address, such as 1 South Ave., but spell them out otherwise (e.g., We took a drive down Nassau Boulevard). Spell out First through Ninth is they’re street names, then go to numerals after that (e.g. 222 10th Ave.) If you have a complete address, abbreviate any compass points, such as 712 Jones St. S.E. But, without an exact address, it’s just Southwest Jones Street.
  19. 19. 11. For States: Spell out the names of the states in text when they appear alone (e.g. Wildfires continued to rage through southern California yesterday). Abbreviate states when they appear in conjunction with the name of a city, town, village or military base (e.g. Garden City, N.Y.). See AP Stylebook for the acceptable state abbreviations. When referring to the United States as a noun, spell out United States As an adjective or part of an organization’s name, use U.S. with no spaces.
  20. 20. 12. Use the name of the website rather than the Web address. For example: YouTube, no or New York Times, not Keep in mind that a URL is merely a source’s address in cyberspace. So, for example: when you cite sources, saying instead of Adelphi University would be the equivalent of saying “According to 1 South Avenue in Garden City,” instead of “according to Adelphi University.” Use the source’s name, not address (physical, Internet or otherwise).
  21. 21. 13. Punctuation •Periods: Use a single space after the period at the end of a sentence. Do not put a space between initials (e.g. C.S. Lewis). •Commas: Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series (e.g. John, Paul, George and Ringo). Use a comma to set off a person's hometown and age (e.g. Pat Smith, 34, was arrested yesterday).
  22. 22. 14. Quotation Marks (“ ”): In dialogue, each person’s words are placed in a separate paragraph, with quotation marks at the beginning and end of each person’s speech. Periods and commas always go within quotation marks. Dashes, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted material. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence. Use single marks for quotes within quotes (e.g. She said, "He told me, 'I love you.'").
  23. 23. 15. Money: When referring to money, dollar amounts are always expressed as numerals and the “$” sign is used. For cents or amounts of $1 million or more, spell the words cents, million, billion, trillion etc. Examples: $3, $26.52, $250,000, $8 million, 6 cents.
  24. 24. Remember