Week 9 – AP Style

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What is Associated Press Style and why is it so important for public relations writers?

What are some of the trickier parts of using AP Style for you?

How can you overcome them?

  One thought on “Week 9 – AP Style

  1. October 30, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Associated Press Style, or AP Style, is the style that journalists, editors and PR professionals use in various media outlets. AP Style helps set a standard for spelling, punctuation, numbers, and datelines, just to name a few. It is important for public relations writing because it helps PR writers stay consistent and present material to the public in a universal style. Perhaps the most important reason public relations writers use it is because without using AP style, they will likely not get a job or, if they do, they will likely not keep it.

    I am no AP guru by any means. And, if you proofread this, I’m sure you are likely to find punctuation or grammatical errors. However, since learning about this style in my first journalism class, I have been interested in AP style and try my best to use it in all writing. At first, I was fascinated with the datelines. The fact that some cities stand alone, while others require a state, country, or territory is pretty tricky and I find myself referencing my Stylebook often for those. Probably, my biggest struggle though is punctuation. This has always been a conscious effort I have tried to make in my writing, but because of the way I form sentences, especially in writing where I articulate my thoughts (like this blog here), I find myself over using commas. And, lets completely forget about using those commas with little dots underneath them (yes, I know it’s called a semicolon).

    For help with datelines, locations and numbers, I almost always reference my Stylebook. For the grammatical and punctuation issues, to be honest, I usually restructure my sentences to avoid problems or over using commas in my professional writing. I have always written how I speak and think but in a lot of PR writing, I still haven’t found a way to marry the two in a manner that I am happy with. I think it will just take some time and practice to get some of the punctuation style worked out and truly find my voice.

    • October 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      I was thinking the same thing when I wrote my blog post. Gosh I hope no one notices the mistakes that are probably in here! I find that in my writing I do what you do and simply avoid what I don’t know. I know this is the cowards way out, but at least it saves mistakes.

      I sort of had the opposite experience when I first learned about AP style. I was extremely intimidated! I was also very frustrated that this whole time I was writing dates, numbers, titles, and all sorts of other things wrong. I thought, how dare none of my high school (or even college) teachers tell me about this! I think it is wrong that people do not find out about AP style unless they take a journalism class. I’ve warmed up to AP style since, mostly because I earned major brownie points at my job after writing a few publications. It’s nice when stuff from school applies to the real world.

      • November 1, 2012 at 2:00 am

        When I was in high school all we learned to do was MLA format so I was also very intimidated in my first journalism class when the professor asked us to write in AP Style and expected us to be at least familiar. Since I have started taking my PR classes, I have become more and more familiar with the style of writing and I have noticed that as you use the style more, it becomes more of a second nature and starts to make much more sense stylistically. So, I have really also warmed up to AP style, I often transition back to classes when they expect MLA or another format and I am confused by them. I also think the other styles no long make sense. I think AP is very frustrating and tedious but it is necessary and helpful.

      • November 1, 2012 at 8:30 am

        Isn’t that crazy? MLA was all I heard for the longest time and was definitely under the impression that MLA was the format for the classes I would eventually take in college. When I found out that AP style was what most of my work would have to be written in, I felt cheated. Like the last four years were wasted on learning one style only to be replaced by a new style to learn all the new ins-and-outs of.

        Now that I’m more familiar with AP style, I feel confident using it. However, AP style is ever changing and the Stylebook should be referenced often. If you have any question at all, it is definitely beneficial to look it up in your AP Stylebook just to be on the safe side.

      • jdotson8
        November 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        I don’t understand why MLA was taught as the future for us in high school, when all I’ve seen has been AP. It would be so much easier for folks if high school taught AP style, even in small doses. As hard as high school tries, they haven’t really prepared people for writing papers in the right style. The book definitely comes in handy. I’ve had some practice with it writing articles for local papers over the years, but I’m nowhere near the master of it.

      • November 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm

        I definitely find myself avoiding situations where I am unsure if the structure or spelling is right and going with what I am more familiar with. I hate it! As English majors we are expected to show a standard that is supposed to have writing skills that are above average, but there are plenty of times when I have doubted whether or not my skills are quite there. It is nice to know that I can turn to my AP stylebook to get me through some of those tricky situations.
        I don’t have much experience with AP Style, like most people (even in the writing fields) it seems. As prominent as it is among English majors, I am not sure why they do not teach it more frequently, even if in just upper level English classes in high school or AP high school classes. It would definitely come in handy. At the same time, I know that it is good to have experience with multiple forms, even if just to have the basic understanding of them.

    • November 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      I feel the same way every time I post things, especially in my journalism classes. I just always hope they go nice on me instead of the “grammar Nazi” which I have met quite a few of them in my journalism classes. I was also like you and really never heard of AP style until my first journalism class at eastern. Up until then I was always thought MLA, which blows my mind why schools still push it like it is the only thing you will ever use in writing. I wish in high school they would have at least mentioned AP style. I also use the style book for dates and numbers. The book can be so helpful with them, and there are so many rules I do not know how people can just remember all of the rules. Its just crazy.

    • November 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      Brett, I really get what you mean about struggling and needing a reference for certain abbreviation word usage. I “google” stuff all the time when I am stuck.

      About joining conversational writing with professional intent, it is the key. I am no master of PR, only a student thus far, but I do know that this business is all about building relationships. These relationships we will make can only be built on if we are real. That is why we write to each other and our “publics” like we are telling them a story, because we are. It is easy to get lost in that, however. It is easy to assume that we are friends with those we are writing to, and then conversational writing turns into lazy writing. And that is never good. So I understand where you are coming from and totally agree. We will need to practice practice practice!

  2. October 30, 2012 at 3:32 am

    AP style is the standard writing format for print media in terms of spelling, grammar and punctuation. Since PR professionals work so closely with the journalists and the media, it’s important that they use the same writing format. It makes it a lot easier for journalists to digest your information and quickly write a story based on your press release–if they have to take the time to edit it for AP style, they’re just going to be annoyed 🙂

    The tricky part about AP style is having to essentially everything you ever thought you knew about punctuation and even SPELLING and follow these rules. I think it’s strange that this one dictionary, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, is the end-all and be-all of spelling words. Honestly, I think it’s crazy. Who decided that? Why can’t I spell these words the way I’ve been spelling them since my middle school spelling tests??

    You would think that as a journalism major and reporter for a newspaper, I would know my AP style pretty well. But my secret is sometimes I allow myself to “forget” to write in AP style because I know my editors will catch it… BAD! When I’m not feeling lazy, I often just use google to find the rules every time because I can never remember them… there are just to many! I have bookmarked an “AP Style cheatsheet” so that I can quick-reference proper formatting and abbreviation of street addresses… because no matter how many times I look it up, I never remember.

    The way that you overcome the challenges that AP style presents you with is very, very simple: Buy an AP Stylebook and carry that thing with you EVERYWHERE!

    • October 31, 2012 at 12:43 am

      To add to your definition, I would say that AP Style isn’t just the standard for print media, but online as well since social media has become so huge in today’s society. I agree with you on everything else you wrote in your first paragraph, PR practitioners often times are working closely with journalists and the news so we need to know how to write how they write. We need to have the same knowledge and skills as journalists and be on their level. We want them to be able to look at us and whether they like us or not, be able to respect us for our knowledge of our career and our work ethic. It definitely makes things a lot easier if everyone is working with the same format and no one wants to have to waste time fixing errors that should never have been made in the first place.
      AP Style is tricky in so many ways. There are so many rules to master and it is very tedious and there is a lot to learn. It is tough being taught something in school and doing things one way for years and then all of a sudden having to change the way you thought you knew how to write. It is frustrating to learn new ways of doing something and having to make changes to what your comfortable with but that is a part of life. We are constantly changing and evolving and that will never stop. Change is about the only certainty we have in life. I don’t like how difficult AP Style is, but I will just have to practice and get used to it considering I am a PR major. I totally agree with you about there being so many rules in AP Style that it is a nightmare to try and remember them all! I hope one day it is possible but it will take a lot of practice and work. I think sometimes I have a terrible memory so I feel your pain. I like your advice on how to overcome AP Style challenges, haha…I think along with practice, I have to agree!!

    • jdotson8
      November 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      I wrote some articles for local newspapers as a high schooler, but I was never told to follow AP style or anything about it. Since I’ve been in college, it’s been a whole new ballgame for me. Do I feel cheated by not being told about it? Not really, since I saw just a handful of edits at the most in my articles when I compared what was in the paper against my computer at home. I always considered myself a good writer and still do. I’m not a master of AP by any means, and I occasionally still make a grammar mistake I should catch. Am I worried about a grammar mistake or two on a paper? If it reads good and gets the message across like I hoped, not really. In the end, it would come in handy if I got it all right without having to worry though.

  3. October 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    AP style is the code that journalists, PR practitioners, and other writers to the public use to help guide their grammar, style, punctuation, and spelling. This code, or set of rules, is published in the AP style book so writers have a reference. As PR professionals it is essential that we follow proper AP style. Not only is it the professional way to write to the public, it also helps in our jobs. First it shows journalists that we are serious writers and our information is credible and should be taken seriously. It also helps in our credibility with readers since it eliminates spelling and grammatical mistakes. Lastly, it helps us to keep a good relationship with clients since it gives the proper abbreviations and capitalization of company and client names.
    I seem to have trouble with abbreviations and capitalization. I always want to capitalize any person’s title. I think a lot of us are also used to writing and only relying on spellcheck as our guide. It takes a lot of extra work to look up everything you have written in the style book. Getting into this habit is tricky, but worth it. I think the best way to overcome any obstacles with AP style is through practice. Practice both in document writing, but also quick practices of sentences that include tricky things like dates and abbreviations. I think that is why I enjoyed the very first NewsU we did. When I write, I write sentence by sentence. If I can practice writing proper style one sentence at a time, the whole piece will turn out right. A good way to get in the habit of referencing the book more often is to always assume that you don’t know the answer. Don’t know the answer to how that word is spelled, or even whether you should use a comma or a semi-colon.
    – Megan

    • October 31, 2012 at 12:31 am

      I like your definition of AP Style. I agree with you on the reasons you listed why following AP Style is so important. It definitely makes us as PR professionals, be taken seriously and looked at professionally in the writing world. We have to keep up with the news and journalists and want to be at the same level as them when it comes to knowledge of writing and our writing skills in general. It is absolutely vital that we don’t have any grammar or spelling issues when writing for the public. It looks very unprofessional if we cannot spell or even abbreviate a company, city or state wrong and we definitely need to have all of our information about client names correct. There is quite a bit in AP Style that I have trouble with, abbreviations is definitely one of them for me as well. It’s true what you said about capitalization too, at first I wasn’t sure what you meant and when I read further, I agreed with you. I fell like a persons job title should always be capitalized and as we all know from AP Style, it depends where it’s placed and is not always supposed to be capitalized. I also said in my other response that I think the only way to really fix any problems with writing in AP Style is to practice. I can’t think of any better way to perfect any of these skills. I consider myself a strong writer, but when it comes to AP Style, I tend to become discouraged. It can be frustrating sometimes dealing with something that is relatively new to you and challenging but I will continue to practice and perfect my writing skills to become a successful PR professional.

      • October 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        I think its funny how similar we are when it comes to AP style. No one else in the class has responded yet, so I wonder if we will find that most of us feel the same way about AP style. I agree that it can be totally frustrating. Sometimes I honestly don’t think the book is clear about a rule. When that happens, or if I just get too frustrated, I usually just try and find a new way to write what I want. I’m almost a little scared about practice outside of college. I doubt I will feel like an AP style pro by the time I graduate in August next year. I just know that in these journalism and PR classes professors MAKE us practice, and give us the resources to do so. I’m glad Gina gave us NewsU. I honestly think I might use that after graduation. I’m such a PR nerd.

    • chelseafenwick
      October 31, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Megan, I seem to struggle with abbreviations as well! I always second guess myself and then think on it later, “was that right?” I never seem to get it right! Hah! I agree it really comes down to PRACTICE. Amanda, I agree it looks very unprofessional when we do not know how to write an active sentence or a proper name, etc. I guess I am still learning so many things but it seems to get easier and easier. It is so helpful that we are required to use this and that we have had quizzes on this because we will be so prepared in the future!

    • November 1, 2012 at 8:02 am

      I totally agree with you, Megan. The thing that caught my attention the most was when you wrote, “First it shows journalists that we are serious writers and our information is credible and should be taken seriously.” I never really thought of it that way but you’re totally right. Great point!

      I too have trouble with abbreviations and capitalizations. Job titles and other details pertaining to capitalization are abbreviations are things that, unless you have years of experience, you should always check.

  4. October 31, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Associated Press Style is a way of writing used by newspapers and in the news industry in the United States. The Associated Press Stylebook is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June (www.en.wikipedia.org). AP style is the accepted style among journalists and AP Style helps create a standard for different types of styling such as spelling, punctuation, numbers, etc. (www.idtstudio.coe.uga.edu).
    AP Style is so important for public relations writers because it is the style that journalists and the news use and it is important for PR professionals to be on board as well because they will often be working with journalists and the news. It is important that we understand how to properly write in AP Style in this profession because we need to be at the top of our game, we need to make sure we know what we are doing and are doing it properly. We need to appear professional and be knowledgeable about our field and ready to write at the drop of a hat if need be. PR professionals and journalists have quite different careers, that are separated by a fine line. We will most likely be working along side, with, or near by journalists and we need to know how to do so professionally. It is said a lot of the time that PR people and journalists don’t get along, which may be true, but we need to have a lot of the same skills.
    AP Style is definitely challenging for me, there is just so much to learn and remember. There are rules for basically everything in writing and it is so tedious that it takes a lot of practice and dedication to completely understand it all. I would like to get to the point where I don’t have to constantly refer to my stylebook for answers, it would be nice to retain the information and not have to stress out so much about it. I have a hard time with numbers, how to write out times, dates, addresses, heights, etc. There are different rules for many situations and not often, are two situations the same. I think the only way to over come any problems involving AP Style is practice, practice, practice!

  5. chelseafenwick
    October 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Associated Press style is a style and/or usage guide that is used by newspapers in the news industry, according to Wikipedia. Although to me it is much more than that. I really like my AP style book, honestly I didn’t know how much I would like the book at first yet it has proven to be quite helpful. I am very big on proper grammar and I was unaware of little things that I do that are not correct. I would say the trickiest thing for me is sometimes it is hard to reconstruct what I had learned through speaking to what I know now from scholars, or books. For example “Steve and I” or Steve and myself.” Another one is than or then or simple things that maybe others would catch but I struggle with. Now as we are in college AP seems to be really ubiquitous among students. Most importantly for PR students because when we get into the field and now possess a “big boy/girl” job we need those skills and grammar usage we learned through AP. I think the reason why it is really important for a PR practitioner to know AP is because we are to be able to eloquently speak and write. We should have those journalistic skills that we obtain from style books and college classes on this subject. It makes us better writers and we not only gain understanding but we look better as well. I think with practice and continual usage we will learn how to use AP style.

    • November 1, 2012 at 1:53 am

      I just want to very much agree with your first point. I talked about in my post how difficult it is to keep up with all of the rules. I almost did not buy the AP Style Book at the start of the semester, but now looking back at the progress I have made and all of the writing I have done when I have had to reference it, I am certainly glad I did. I am shocked at the amount of information that is contained in the AP Style Book. The proper nouns that have to be used and spelled in specific ways are crazy because you wouldn’t think the book would be that extensive. It is so helpful when writing and surprising easy to navigate and use. I am extremely glad I purchased it and I am impressed and astounded by its usefulness.

    • November 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      I for one always feel like i’m second guessing myself, like what I originally thought to be true is most likely not so its almost nerve wracking. I also like the AP style book, however i get mad when I can’t find absolutely every little thing, as I assume it thinks you know the basics. I wonder if there is a “AP Style for Dummies” that might be good for all of us. I rented mine,however I think I am going to ask for one for Christmas because like everyone said it is our bible as far as writing goes.

  6. November 1, 2012 at 1:45 am

    The Associated Press or AP style is the accepted style of writing for news in the United States. There is an AP style book that is released on a yearly basis and it outlines the accepted style of punctuation, spelling, abbreviations and word use when writing in the news or Public Relations field. The first reason that the AP style is necessary for the field of PR and in journalism in general is because it standardizes written communication in the related fields. For example, when writing passes from news station to newspaper, from state to state or from PR to journalists, the format will still be consistent. This allows for an article to pass all around the United States in one form and version. Along with that, the AP Style provides a guideline for the effective and concise ways of communicating in writing for the various fields. The AP Style Book outlines proper ways that text and be condensed but still easily understood by all varieties of people.
    I think that the trickiest part of AP style is included in the dates and numbers. While the system is standardized, it is very specific in terms of the numbers and dates and how they must be written and summarized. For example, if you are writing the date with a year is different from the date without the year. The variance in how the numbers must be expressed is confusing at times and the number of rules that apply to numbers is difficult to keep up with unless it is constantly practiced. I still have issues remembering all of the rules and using them correctly.
    The only way to overcome problems with AP Style is to continually practice and use the rules until they are stuck in your head. However, the trouble with perfecting your own use of AP Style is that the AP Style changes from year to year as the style book is updated.
    Ultimately, AP style is completely beneficial to the field but it is very difficult to acquire the skills to correctly and consistently write in it.

    • November 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Alex, I completely agree about dates and numbers! Just because AP style is standard across the board doesn’t make it any easier when trying to remember is it Nov. 1st, November 1st, Nov. 1989, Nov. 1, 89, –you get my point. I also agree about having to practice. Since we all obviously (or for the most part) had no idea or use of AP style prior to college, the only way we will ever get used to it is why practice. I’m not sure how much I will enjoy writing in AP style in the future but I think the only way to even imagine getting there is to first be comfortable writing in AP style under any circumstance. Doesn’t that sound like fun?


  7. November 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Associated Press style is a writing style that journalists, broadcasters, and Public Relations practitioners use throughout various careers and media outlets. Unlike MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles, AP style is its own breed of grammar and spelling. Unlike citation references that only cover the basics of how a paper should be lined up, AP style has its own handbook, commonly referred to as a “journalist’s bible. AP style isn’t just for journalists though! PR practitioners must have a comprehensive and extensive knowledge of AP style to be able to write anything nowadays. If a PR practitioner didn’t use AP style they most likely wouldn’t get hired. In fact, they’d probably get laughed out of the office and sent running home! AP style is so important because it offers a more simple way of writing that has continuity among media outlets.

    For me, AP style was a totally new endeavor when I came to college. I had never heard of it before so I thought to myself “why does everyone keep saying AP, don’t they mean APA?” Fail. The trickiest part of AP style are all of the dates, measurements, currencies, and addresses. I never seem to remember how to tell time or how to tell someone how tall Billy was in the sixth grade. (6th grade? AP style for grades?!? Ack!) I suppose the only way to possibly overcome these AP challenges would be to use the AP stylebook more often and to frequently write using the vehicles that cause me so much trouble. Easy fix, right?! Nope. AP style just takes practice. I have to practice and not quit at it until it becomes second nature to me. This is definitely easier said than done.


    • November 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      I think it is a consenus that everyone hates AP style right now. I agree the measurements and all the jazz is possibly the worst and I feel as if i will never remember them. Like Gina always says being a good PR professional also takes a good reputation and I don’t really want to be the PR person out there getting talked about because my use of AP style is bad. We can all agree that practice will make perfect, but I for one want to be perfect now!

    • November 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm


      I agree with you AP style is not like any other writing style, it kind of stands alone in its own area. I am always a little amazed on how much the style book covers. It seems to cover every little nook and cranny when it comes to grammar and punctuation.

      I was also like you and never heard of AP style until I was at college. When I was in I learned to write in MLA and also in the Chicago style, which I’m glad you mentioned because I have told many people of it and no one knows what it is, most of them have never even heard of it. But since I have been using AP style I look back at the other styles and cant believe how I used them for so long. I also find the measurements to be one of the hardest things to do with AP style.

    • November 5, 2012 at 5:37 am

      I TOTALLY thought that AP and APA were the same thing for a while, too! I did not realize that there was a difference. And you know what? I don’t know what the AP rule for grades is, either. You’re right: as with everything that we have trouble with, we just need to practice AP style in order to master it. I hope to one day not need my Stylebook by my side at all times, but there are so many rules and updates added each year that I don’t think anyone will blame me for constantly referring back to it. 🙂

  8. jdotson8
    November 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    In short, AP Style is a guide used by newspapers – that has since expanded to journalism, broadcasting and PR. It is edited once a year by AP editors. AP Style is important for anyone in the news industry because it gives them a set of rules to follow. It makes it easier than journalism having its own rules, PR having its own, and so on. There isn’t any confusion because everyone follows the same rules, so to speak.

    AP was pretty much a whole new thing for me coming into college. I was never really told about it in high school or when I wrote articles for local newspapers as a high schooler, just to do my best job on articles. I did good enough that I didn’t really need any editing done, so I was satisfied.

    Now that AP’s come into play, it’s definitely a wake-up call and been a bit of a challenge. I’ve got it down for the most part, but there are still a few grammar mistakes I’ve been making on papers for this class and others as well. The more I keep practicing, the better I’ll get.

    • November 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Joel, I love how called AP style a wake-up call. That is SO true! Challenging? Yes. Confusing? Definitely. Impossible? Nope! As hard as it seems, I know that overcoming AP style challenges is possible. With AP style and PR writers, it is nice to know that something isn’t going to change and is relatively constant. I just wish we had learned about it sooner starting in grade school so that by the time we are actually professionally writing, it would be like second nature to us. I mean, that’s how I feel about MLA. MLA was completely ingrained into my makeup throughout high school. So much so, that by the time I got to college I didn’t really have to use a reference website. But nowadays MLA seems like a thing of the past! I don’t even think it really exists much anymore. In the journalism and PR world, AP rules.


  9. November 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    The Associated Press style or often referred to as AP style, is a style guide used by journalists, public relations professionals, and other media outlets. The Associated Press style covers things from spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The AP style is very important to public relations professionals because it everyone on a level playing field. It makes the communication between all the media outlets flow smoothly.

    When it comes to the trickier parts of AP style for me it is pretty much everything. I was one of those people in class last week that had never even heard of AP style until I took my first journalism class at Eastern. So I have really just begun to scratch the surface of AP style. Even though I have just really started using AP style, I really like it, and the book is a savior. I use the book every time I use dates, times, and measurements in a paper.

    As for ways to over come these problems is just by practice. I can see the improvement in my writing from when I first started using this style. Another thing I believe can help me over come these hurdles is reading through the AP stylebook. I have had many professors in my journalism class suggest that as the best way to get the hang of AP. I have tried this a couple of times now and it is tough to read. But even the few skim trough’s have helped me catch some things in my reading I wouldn’t have been able to do before.

  10. November 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    AP style can be defined as the style of writing that journalists, PR professionals and other media outlets. As far as what is tricky I would have to say everything. Like Megan said in class I feel like I was cheated by not even knowing about this before JRNL 215. All through high school I was told MLA was the way of life and I know that inside and out, now all of the sudden I go to college it’s all APA and AP style… thanks high school for not preparing me for college. I feel like there is constantly something I don’t know and sometimes it’s like I’m in second grade again being taught how to use grammar and punctuation the right way.

    In the process of overcoming this massive issue I think practice makes perfect is the way to got will one day be easier but like a lot of people in class I’ve only started using AP style in the past year, I wasn’t a MLA genius in a year (more like 4), and hopefully by the time I get my first “big girl” job I will be a whole lot better at AP style. Until then it’s practice and a lot of rewriting, and proof writing, and just generally being bad at something. I should probably just buy my AP style book, that might be helpful as well, and actually read it.

    • November 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      I have always felt like my base english skills have kind of been lacking when it comes to sentence structure and knowing all the rules you are supposed to learn in middle school and high school. When I took a copy editing course in college, I was so happy to learn I was not the only one. My professor even brought to light that the majority of students that walk into his class (and the ones that don’t take his class) don’t know it either. That definitely made me feel a little better.

      Now, not only do I need to worry about that I need to worry about datelines, dates, numbers, and writing styles that are correct based off of the AP style way. If we had been exposed to it in the past I don’t think it would be such a shock for students when they reach a college level where it is expected of them to know how to use it. If it is such a standard, why isn’t it talked about more often? I don’t remember my high school teachers ever bringing up any style over than MLA- which they attempted to drill in your head.

      • November 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm


        “I have always felt like my base english skills have kind of been lacking when it comes to sentence structure and knowing all the rules you are supposed to learn in middle school and high school.” this exactly how i feel about my writing since being in college. I almost gave up on presuming journalism for this very reason. Because i feel i could be better but i have no clue where to start to improve at times or do i really have to time to improve.

        I am really good with MLA but i was not taught anything about AP Style not even in my journalism classes in high school. All i learned was how important MLA will be in college and i have yet to use it!


      • November 5, 2012 at 2:50 am

        I totally understand!! I feel like we as writers should have this base knowledge down by now. It is something everyone studies, even if they are not going into an english major, and yet it is something so many of us can get by without actually knowing. But the more we practice our writing skills (or the more others point out our mistakes) the stronger our writing skills will become, which will have a huge affect on our readers. (I am still not sure if that is the right “affect” to use…even after all the countless times I have looked it up or how many times we have been told by teachers, professors and professionals. I am probably wrong.) There is always room for improvement when it comes to writing.

  11. November 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    AP Style is used by people in the news industries, including editors, reporters, broadcasters, magazines, PR and newspapers. The stylebook has several sections that have an alphabetical list of guides for writing styles such as grammar, spelling, capitalization, dates, headlines, numbers, and tricky words, and a section referencing writing laws. These rules follow closely to what other writing styles follow, which makes it commonly accepted across styles. A new version of the AP stylebook is printed every year to keep the most up to date version for the news industry.

    The reasoning behind all people in the news is to have consistency. This allows for everyone to be on the same page (ha ha) when it comes to publishing for the public. It also allows for clarity when sending pieces out through several hands, to be corrected and edited, or modified and added to different people in the news industry-anyone from reporters, to editors, managers and other staff.

    It is most important for PR for these reasons. When gathering information to give to journalists, they need to make sure that it is in a format that they can understand and use. Otherwise, the information may not seem concrete to them, and will move on to another story that is submitted in a form that they know, and are familiar with.

    One of the trickiest parts of using the AP Style is when I have a question about a specific word, phrase, or usage it is not the easiest to find within the book, or when I do find something that relates I am told to return to a different section to find the answer to my question. It makes it difficult to actually feel like I am getting somewhere when I have to look in three different locations for the one answer I was looking for. However, there have only been a handful of times I have had to use it, so it may come just with practice and familiarizing myself more with the book.

    We briefly discussed this in class, but another thing that is frustrating is how little we are taught about AP style! I really think that high school students should at least be exposed to the idea of AP style in their English classes so they are prepared when they get to their college writing courses. I am kind of surprised that this has not started happening already.

    • November 5, 2012 at 5:48 am

      I agree, it can be really annoying when the AP Stylebook sends you on a wild goose change to find something that should be so simple. Instead of sending you to a different section they should just re-print the same rule a bunch of times. It’s not like they’re saving any ink by saying “See (some other section)” anyway.

      You raise a good point about continuity when a piece passes through various people for editing. It removes a conflict of stylistic/artistic preferences while editing because there’s one set format that everything is supposed to follow–it’s not just about what you think looks or sounds better.

  12. November 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Associated press style is the way writing is formatted for a newspaper, magazine, broadcast and other publications. There are lots of rules on capitalization, punctuation, abbreviations, spelling and number usage. This is the way journalists write which is why it’s so important for public relations writers to know the same guidelines. If a press release is sent to a reporter that has multiple errors, they will look at it, probably shake their head and throw it away. It’s imperative for us to know the proper way to write in AP style. I have come to value the AP style book very much.

    Especially in one of my other classes, Copy Editing. I am learning a lot on the many rules there are to writing in a journalistic mode and what mistakes are often made. There are many rules and exceptions that without the book I would be completely lost. With enough practice you can remember certain rules like which word is appropriate when it is used as a verb or a noun, but for the most part it is impossible to remember all the laws without the book.

    Some of the trickier parts for me to remember are which words are appropriate when there are two options. Example: affect, effect. Also, usage is a tricky part to AP writing. Picking the right word to use that would be appropriate. Example: to/with, from/that, between/among, imply/infer, lay/laid, currently/presently.

    These may seem like easy, but it’s more difficult than it seems. The best way to overcome these problems is to look at the AP style book, all the answers are there. New editions are made once a year usually in the Spring, adding new material and hopefully easier ways to remember the laws.


    • chelseafenwick
      November 1, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      I remember Copy and Editing class. You are exactly right, it was all grammar/punctuation and capitalization that I did not even pick up on. At first I really did not like the class but when I started to realize how important it was to my career and used the AP book, I noticed it really helped with my other classes. It kind of reminds me of the little red book of selling and how important it is to Marketing. It kind of is the AP style book of sales. I really enjoy the helpful notes in the books. I also think it is so good for us to really be instilled with this in college because it will really help with our future careers.

    • November 3, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      I totally agree with the struggles of knowing which word to use all the time. Another area that I have a REALLY tough time with is numbers and abbreviations. For me, I feel like I can get all in the “Great Story Writing Zone” and then it all comes abruptly to a halt when I hit a tricky street name or long list of people who all live in different states.

      To be totally honest, I do not yet have an AP style book : ( I know…totally lame. I thought that I could try to survive without one, and the first NewsU we did changed my mind. I will be picking one up soon. Relying on the internet has not been enough.

      Did Professor Pinson teach that class? I took his intro/journalism class my second semester at EMU, and her introduced me to AP style.

      • November 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm


        I will be honest with you too i do not the most updated copy of the AP Style book so i guess we can be lame together lol.

        I too struggle with which words to use and when. In my head it should alright lol but i be so wrong it’s not funny. I used to and still relay on the internet for things from time to time. it has become a very bad habit when i could just pick or find my AP Style book.

        My intro to journalism was taken when i was at WMU and she was all over the place so when i got here i was a deer in head lights. Especially, when it came to using the AP Style book i honestly do not remember using it when i was at WMU. I wrote for the school newspaper too! I’m so shamed!


  13. November 2, 2012 at 3:38 am

    I was in my second semester here at Eastern Michigan University, in an introductory journalism class when I first met AP style. Dr. Jim Pinson was the man who first made me aware that all the work I had done to master MLA and APA was but a waste of my time. For my career, and for the rest of my educational major classes, I would be writing in AP style.

    AP Style: http://www.apstylebook.com/ Is a writing style used by PR people and journalists alike. It is designed to convey factual information efficiently. It also standardizes what we readers see when we pick up a quality magazine or newspaper.

    I quickly found out that AP style was no joke. It is a serious overhaul of the way writing is done. It took me a long time to get decent at it in Professor Pinson’s class, and I admit I still struggle. Keeping numbers and formal titles/abbreviations seems to be the source for most of my AP style sadness. Seriously, I need to get a strong grip on all that. I have heard that many job interviews have AP style tests! TESTS! I need to be prepared for that. The best way I can think of to cure myself of all my AP struggles is to practice. The NewsU on AP style is one that I will be visiting again. I really think that, like everything else, this AP stuff is a matter of self discipline. If I create a consistent effort, I will improve.

    • November 5, 2012 at 1:58 am

      I took Intro to Journalism with Macowiack. He knew what was important in a story and taught us the inverted pyramid style to writing a news story, but did not stress on AP style too much. It was soon brought to my attention that I do NOT know how to write in AP style. I really was taught how to write in AP style in a class I’m taking right now, Copy Editing, with Pinson. Pinson’s a really good teacher who knows his stuff, he may go off on tangents for 20 minutes here and there. I recommend him to anyone who has a journalism class left because he’ll instill the basics of grammar and rules of writing that are often forgotten or misused.

      I agree, this AP stuff is a master of self discipline. Hopefully the more we are forced to write in that style, the more it will stick in our brain!

  14. November 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    A new version of the AP Style book is printed every year to keep the most up to date version for the news industry. The many changes can be annoying because once i get something in my head it hard for me to change. The AP Style create rules that writers should follow that help there to standard in writing that is widely accepted.

    The AP Style book has many uses such as: an alphabetical list of guides for writing styles such as grammar, spelling, capitalization, dates, headlines, numbers, and a section referencing writing laws.

    AP Style is commonly used by people in media industries such as:editors, reporters, broadcasters, magazines, public relations and newspapers.

    I must admit as a writer i such at grammar and punctuation! To be this far along and still have these issues that beginner has can be embarrassing. I don’t care how many time i proof read my work i still somehow miss something. I be the most simplest punctuation. i
    do not have the AP Style all the way down as i would like when it comes to grammar or punctuation. its something that i am very aware of and its my greatest weakness no matter how good my story my be if my grammar sucks it all sucks! I have A’s and B’s in all my journalism classes expect for copy editing! so that speaks great volumes to my weakness!

    How can i overcome my issues with AP Style? Well first step it admitting i have a problem lol.
    Not just admitting i have a problem but spending time working on it. Being willing to ask for help and allow other people read my work. Go to office hours and have a one on one session with a professor i feel comfortable with not all professors will be patient. Some will feel you should already know this and their help will come from a negative attitude.


    • November 5, 2012 at 2:04 am

      It’s ok to still be learning! We’re not professionals, yet! The AP style book is full of so many rules and laws, I think it’s unrealistic for anyone to be able to memorize them all. It’s important though to be aware of the common ones. Or, even if you don’t know the rule you know you are unsure of it, or that there is another option, so then you are lead to look it up in the book. Practice does make perfect, all though don’t expect to be a perfect writer, even after taking this class. Hopefully we all leave this semester knowing the formats of different messages and to remember if we are unsure, we know to look it up in the book.

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