AP Style. While this may mean nothing to some, for PR pros, these two words mean everything. They resonate in our minds throughout our workday (and let’s be honest, away from the office, as well), while shaping how we write and conduct our day-to-day practice.
For many of us, AP Style brings flashbacks to college quizzes and late nights studying the almighty rulebook. If that’s you, we invite you to join us on a trip back in time as we review four crucial AP Style rules, just in case you need a refresher (or just want to see how much you remember).
- Numerals – Although it’s tempting to simply write an actual number, AP Style says otherwise. For numbers one through nine, you must spell out the number. For numbers 10 and above, a figure must be used. Of course, it wouldn’t be English without an exception, so can you guess what it is? (cue Jeopardy music) Okay, you’ve waited long enough. Sentences cannot begin with a figure, so, if a number is the first word in a sentence, always spell it out, even if it’s 10 or above.
- The Oxford Comma – Now this one often causes the all-out war of PR pros vs. non-PR pros. Contrary to what our friends, family and elementary school teachers might argue, in a series, a comma is not needed before the “and.” Fun fact time! In the early days of newspaper, writers only had limited space. One way to save space … you guessed it … removing the oxford comma.
- Time of Day – When communicating time, we often get in the habit of just saying the time figure or capitalizing AM and PM. However, according to AP Style, the correct way to share time is lowercase with periods after each letter (a.m. and p.m.).
- More than vs. Over – A recent change to AP Style, it is now acceptable to use both the phrases “more than” and “over” when expressing amounts. (We know you have a favorite, and that’s finally acceptable)
From recent college grads to the most seasoned PR professionals, we can all benefit from an AP Style refresher from time to time.
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