Introduction to Associated Press (AP) Style

What is AP style?

AP style provides guidelines for newswriting and is used by many newspapers, magazines and other media. Anyone who wishes to work in journalism should be familiar with AP style. The AP style manual includes thousands of entries, therefore this worksheet will provide a brief history of AP style, a guide to some of the most common AP style rules, as well as links to AP style manual websites.

AP Style: A History

The Associated Press was founded in 1848 by six New York newspapers who desired to share resources for international news.  The newspapers saved money by sharing the news that arrived by telegraph wire and dividing the expenses evenly; this prevented competition for information.  The AP is currently the largest newsgathering organization in the world and uses its style to keep the news easy to read, concise and free of bias. First published in 1977, The Associated Press Stylebook lists the rules regarding grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage. The Stylebook is the standard guide for most U.S. newspapers, magazines and other media.

Basic Rules

Note: This is not a substitute to the Stylebook which is changing often and contains thousands of entries.

Numbers

One through nine are generally spelled out while 10 and above are generally written as numerals.

Example: She bought three cats and 11 bags of cat food.

Percentages

Percentages are always expressed as numerals, followed by the word "percent."

Example: The unemployment rate rose by 2 percent.

Ages

Ages are always expressed as numerals.

Example: He is 111 years old.

Dollar Amounts

Dollar amounts are always expressed as numerals, and the "$" sign is used.

Example: $5, $15, $150, $150,000, $15 million, $15 billion, $15.5 billion

Street Addresses

Numerals are used for numbered addresses. Street, Avenue and Boulevard are abbreviated when used with a numbered address, but otherwise are spelled out. Route and Road are never abbreviated.

Example: He lives at 123 Washington St. His house is on Washington Street. Her house in on 234 Hancock Road.

Dates

Dates are expressed as numerals. The months August through February are abbreviated when used with numbered dates. March through July are never abbreviated. Months without dates are not abbreviated. "Th" is not used.

Example: The festival is on Oct. 15. She had her baby on July 12. I love the weather in November.

Job Titles

Job titles are generally capitalized when they appear before a person's name, but lowercase after the name.

Example: President Barack Obama. Barack Obama is the president.

Film, Book and Song Titles

Generally these are capitalized and placed in quotation marks. Do not use quote marks with reference books or the names of newspapers or magazines.

Example: He rented "Harry Potter" on DVD. She read "The Great Gatsby."