AP Style guidelines



It’s no easy feat mastering the rules of news writing, especially the nearly 400-page AP Stylebook. Editors often update the guide to reflect new changes in style and to stay current with trends. Some notable amendments in recent past: the book announced it changed “e-mail” to “email,” a move that followed the union of “Web site” to “website,” in an earlier edition.

(And just when we had gotten used to hyphenating “e-mail”!)

We’re all writers here at InkHouse, and we consult the AP Stylebook often. So we’ve compiled all of our best advice here in this “AP Style” section of the website. We hope it helps!


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InkHouse’s guide to AP Style

ap style mistakes


Twelve common mistakes of AP Style


Below are some of the more common blunders (in no particular order) and some simple tricks to make sure your writing runs flush with the accepted writing standard we all know better as “AP Style.”

More than, over. More than is preferred with numbers, while over generally refers to spatial elements. The company has more than 25 employees; The cow jumped over the moon.

State abbreviations. AP doesn’t follow standard ZIP code abbreviations – e.g., MA for Massachusetts. Each state has its own abbreviation – e.g., Mass. for Massachusetts; N.Y. for New York; Calif. for California; Fla. for Florida and so on. However, eight states – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah – aren’t abbreviated in datelines or text. Omit state abbreviations in datelines for well-known U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, etc…


Seven hard-to-remember Associated Press style rules


Now that you know the 12 most common mistakes, here are some other AP Style rules that are of equal importance, but harder to remember…

Affect vs. Effect: As a verb, affect means to influence: The decision will affect my finances. Affect is rarely used a noun. As a verb, effect means to cause: She will effect change immediately. As a noun, effect means result: The effect of the accident was damaging.

On vs. About: As one of my editors said, on refers to spatial objects: He sat on the chair. Use about in non-spatial references: The professor will host a class about history…

If you liked those…

Then, you’ll love our entire AP Stylebook series. Keep scrolling to find more helpful articles that will keep your writing in line with AP Style!


Ten tips to spring clean your AP Style


As PR people, we live and breathe AP Style, often finding ourselves writing in AP Style while texting or writing personal emails. Even so, there are certain rules that are often overlooked or misused. Here is a quick refresher to help us all spring clean our AP Style writing…

shocking AP Style additions


Two shocking Associated Press Stylebook updates: ‘Over’ and State Names


The AP Stylebook unleashed two controversial edits that brought years of following rules and explanations to a screeching halt. “Over” is now OK to use in place of “more than” in references to quantity, and state names now warrant full spelling in copy. Huh?

star wars and ap style


Twenty tips for Associated Press Style: Star Wars edition


In honor of the movie that took theaters by storm (troopers), following are some terms from the Associated Press Stylebook that writers may infuse into their copy (and honor the George Lucas-spawned franchise):

back to school ap style


Fifteen AP Style rules for ‘Back To School’


Here are some back-to-school-related terms from the Associated Press Stylebook to help us writers make the grade:


academic departments: Lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives. The marketing department; the department of English.


ballpoint pen: Proper style for students’ writing instruments…

halloween ap style


Avoid being haunted by AP Stylebook mistakes this Halloween


Here are some quick AP style guidelines to keep in mind for any Halloween-oriented (or otherwise “spooky”) content:


Halloween; the festive eve of All Saints’ Day (both Oct. 31)


Day of the Dead (Nov. 1)…

halloween ap style


Twenty-five signs of spring in Associated Press Style


Following are some spring-related terms from the AP Stylebook to keep your writing clean:


alma mater


alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae: Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school. Use alumna (alumnae) when referring to a woman who has attended a school. Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.