How AP Style Changed My Writing

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How AP Style Changed My Writing

A person working on their laptop with the AP style book.

By: Natalie Matheny

Before being introduced to AP Style writing, I was unaware of all the mistakes I was making in my work. Taking a copy editing class and learning about editing marks and grammar rules has really changed the way I take my time to write a good quality piece. By learning the ways of the AP Style guide, I have gained more confidence in my professional writing.

Here are a few AP Style tips that I find useful that I think everyone should know:

Dates

People have the habit of adding st, nd, rd or th to the end of their dates. However, dates should be written in figures only. For example: September 25.

Numbers

Numbers can be tricky because there are multiple rules for the use of numbers. Here are the most commonly broken rules that I see:

  • Spell out numbers one through nine, use figures for 10 and above.
  • Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. However, if the sentence starts with a large number, figure out a way to rewrite the sentence.
  • Use numbers for age and use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun. For example: A 5-year-old boy.
  • Use a figure-word combination when writing about millions, billions and trillions. For example: 1 million people, $2 billion.

Titles

Writing a lot of articles about people and their positions have led me to not make the mistake of miswriting their job title. I see many people get confused as to whether they are supposed to capitalize a title or not and that is one of the most common mistakes I see in people’s writing.

  • Lowercase and spell out titles when they are not used with an individuals name. For example: The pope gave his blessing.
  • Lowercase if the job title comes after someone’s name. For example: John Smith, vice president of accounting.
  • Capitalize formal titles when they are used before one or more names. For example: Vice Presidents John Jones and William Smith.

These tips have improved my writing tremendously and they are now permanent in my brain so I don’t make these common mistakes. Working with the AP Stylebook has helped me as a writer and editor. If you haven’t opened up an AP Stylebook, I suggest you do. It will help avoid common writing mistakes and your peers will think your writing is very professional.

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