Whether we’re journalists or PR professionals we all have to use AP style. To some us, this set of spelling and grammar rules can be the bane of our existence. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Here are some tips and tricks to navigating the AP style guide that will make you a grammar master.
1. Try using the guide as a dictionary:
If there is a specific term that you’re wondering about how to write, look the term up in the book like you would any other diction. In other words, search for the term alphabetically. This approach doesn’t always work, but it’s the best way to start.
2. Look at the bolded word that don’t have added text:
If there is an entry in the style guide, there’s always a reason. When you see a bolded word without any text the author have made an entry for the term because the want you to spell it correctly. Make sure to do so.
3. Check the fine print:
Many terms listed in the AP style guide will say “see [insert whatever term that is related].” When this happens it can feel like a wild good chase. I assure you there is an end to the trail, but you do have to flip to whatever section the book wants you too. This is done to save paper space while still giving you the answers you need all on one page.
4. Think of synonyms:
If at first you don’t succeed, try tackling the problem from a different angle. If the term you are searching for is not listed in the guide try and think of any words or phrases that have similar meanings. Although the original word might be list, as similar one may be.
5. Think about grouped terms:
Another issue many writers experience when getting used to the AP style guide is not finding the terms they are looking for because the term is grouped under an all-encompassing one. For example, a person might struggle to find how to write out sport score because this term is a subsection of “numerals.” Start thinking of grouping descriptors to avoid this problem.
6. Look in the topic sections:
If you are still struggling to find a term, try the topic sections. If a writer conveniently looks at the tabs on the side of his style guide, he will find that the second half of the book is sorted in topics ranging from food to religion. If the term you are looking for fall under one of these topics, it might be listed in the section.
7. Check the index:
When all else fails there is an index at the back of the book. Sometimes if you are struggling to find a desired word or phrase, the term will be listed alphabetically and page numbers are given.
Now you have the tools to become an AP style master. I hope you found the information on this blog helpful!
By Steven Nowinski, Junior Account Executive, Communication Department