Many employers who would take you on for your copywriting or content creation skills have a strong preference for the AP style of writing. The AP style, an acronym for Associated Press, refers to the writing standards which are consistent with and used by those in the news. If you’re writing content for any kind of news site which may not even necessarily relate to current events, you need to be on top of the many nuances of the AP Stylebook. You can check out the 3000+ entry guide on your own time, but I’ll offer 10 examples of AP style tips as they relate to the AP style guide.
AP Style Tips
Numbers – Numbers one through nine should be written out but anything 10 and over should be represented through digits. See how I reflected that just now?
Temperatures – An exception to the numbers rule is that temperatures one through nine are reflected with digits, save for zero. So you would say “it will be a low of 9 degrees today”. Also I’ll point out that when saying “temperatures in the 50s”, there is no apostrophe on the 50s.
Seasons – Seasons are always lowercase.
Months – Seven of the 12 months should be abbreviated as follows: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. whereas the five shorter months with less than five characters a piece, meaning: March, April, May, June, and July are written out in full.
Titles – Titles are capitalized when they precede someone’s name. Mayor Bailey recently began his second term vs. Fred Bailey, mayor of Hillandale.
Street Addresses – Similar to months, five letters or less road related words are not abbreviated. This includes “road”, “way”, “court”, “lane”,“drive”, etc.
Further/Farther – Further relates to a degree, i.e., “he got further than I thought he would”. Farther refers to a physical distances, i.e., “he ran farther than everyone else”.
Toward/Towards – This is a good rule in general, but you should never add an “S” to the end of toward. The same rule applies to forward, backward, etc.
State Abbreviations – States can get tricky because most people are used to the two-letter postal abbreviations for states but the AP style has unique abbreviations for most every state. CA becomes Calif. and Fla. is Florida’s abbreviation to give a couple of examples. Note that 8 states do not get abbreviated: Utah, Ohio, Hawaii, Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Texas, and Idaho.
United States/U.S. – Use United States in full when referring to the country as a noun. Only use U.S. abbreviated when it’s used as an adjective. Note the difference in: “When I arrived in the United States I converted my money to U.S. currency”.