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AP STYLE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Olivia Haskins
Associate
  Back To All

Don’t you just hate it when you can’t remember that one measly rule? Then it’s back to the beloved PR bible (aka Associated Press Style book) and the hunt begins. Often, PR folks look to the AP for a little fresher-upper, since they are the authority on all things grammar, capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and more for the media-minded. We have all done it, but for those of us who haven’t seen your Style book since college, here is a quick reference guide to those holy rules.

Ten of our favorite AP rules to live by, include:

1. Champagne: Pop that bottle, but check the label! If it's from France (Champagne region, of course) then always capitalize. If made anywhere else, call it "sparkling wine." Santé! 

2. Girl: only valid until her 18th birthday. Use woman or young woman afterward. “I’m a girl, but not a women,” thanks, Brittany Spears, we like how you said it best.

3. Lectern vs. Podium: That post the president stands behind during the State of the Union Speech? Yeah, it’s actually not a podium; he’s really standing behind a lectern. According to AP gurus, a podium is something someone stands on. Who knew?

4. Quotes: We really care what our sources have to say, so don’t bury those babies. Give them a paragraph of their own. AP says it’s a-okay.

5. French toast: Dip it in syrup, and capitalize the ‘F’, but do not capitalize french fries. The French will be offended because “french” in french fries is just the style, not referring to the nation.

6. Commas: usage in a simple series: In AP style, you do not use a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. Bye, Oxford Comma, bye. 

7. Jorts: Nope, sorry jorts aren’t a proper name for cut-off blue jean shorts. But it’s totally fine for Jeggings to be used to refer to the hybrid of jeans and leggings. Do I hear a battle of the denims on the rise?

8. Internet: AP finally caved to peer pressure by lower-casing and making "website" into one word, but they're still adamant that the Internet and the Web always be uppercase. Baby steps, ya’ll.

9. Icing vs Frosting: There is a difference, but taste buds wouldn’t know. AP says to use “icing” to describe sugar decorations applied to cookies. “Frosting” for cupcakes and cakes. What if you have a cookie cake?

10. OK. OK? Everyone has their own personal way of saying “OK”, even those lovely people who use the sweet response of “K”. But in our AP world, it’s OK, OK? It’s OK’d, OK’ing and OKs (yes, all cap it). Might look like you are yelling, but it’s OK. 

Once you have mastered these rules, here are a few more common pitfalls to avoid:

·       Don’t capitalize seasons

·       Write out the numbers one through nine, over 10 use digits

·       If an event happens on the hour, no need for  “:00”

·       It’s a.m. and p.m. (proper periods, please)

What’re your favorite AP rules? Let us know by tweeting us your tips @DEVENEYnola using the #DEVchat hashtag.

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