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AP Style Guide Missteps and Why They Matter

Details matter when it comes to writing public relations materials in a style consistent with media expectations. Knowing Associated Press Style (or AP Style as it’s generally referred to) is an important part of any public relations effort.

But AP Style can be tricky as it’s constantly being updated and always changing. For example, who remembers when “website” used to be spelled “Web site?” As the public and media preference evolves, so does AP Style… so getting it right can be a bit of a moving target.

Paying attention to the details and being up-to-date on the language usage preference demonstrates that the person submitting the piece to the media has knowledge that is current. Plus, it makes it easier for media to pick up the news release, letter or article submission and drop them directly into their coverage. And of course, everyone knows, when a reporter’s life is made easier, the relationship grows and earning coverage becomes easier.

To ensure the best work (and most up-to-date) is provided, avoid the following common AP Style pitfalls:

  1. Titles: Titles should be lowercase. The exception is to capitalize a formal title that is used directly before a person’s name. For instance, Public Relations Director, Natonia Samchuck and Natonia Samchuck, public relations director are both correct. Sometimes company leaders are uneasy about listing their titles as lowercase but rest assured, a lowercase title does not mean a demotion. It does mean the person drafting the press release knows what they are doing when it comes to AP Style.
  1. Months: Abbreviate select months when used with a date. When using months with a specific date, for instance Oct. 7, 2017, abbreviate Jan. Feb. Aug, Sept. Oct. Nov. and Dec. If these selected months are used without a specific date, spell out the month instead of abbreviating.
  1. Quotes: When writing a quote, place a comma inside the quotation marks then end the quote with “said” and the name of your source. For instance, “AP style can be tricky,” said Julie Lando, president of GRIT Marketing Group.
  1. Numbers: Be careful when using figures for numbers. Numbers nine and below should be spelled out, while numbers 10 and above should be used as figures. For instance, “Clients tend to make these three AP Style mistakes.”
  1. Percentages: Use figures when writing a percentage and remember that the word “percent” should be spelled out instead of using a symbol. For instance, “Jim received a 5 percent raise.”

Interested in learning more? Consider signing up for the online version of the AP Style guide, which is routinely updated, by visiting www.apstylebook.com. Don’t have time? Contact the GRIT team to learn how we can support your public relations efforts today!