AP Style: Not all the answers you will need, but it’s a good start.

For all those budding public relations professionals, there comes a time when the question arises from the professor, or interviewer: Tell me about your comfort level with AP style? 

Oops… missed that class! (There was a soft pillow with my name on it… never did catch up with that punctuation thing.)   

Ok, so let’s see… a few hundred pages that tell me about when to use fewer or less.   I don’t need that information; I learned that from a beer commercial. So, does knowing AP style really matter?It’s hard to say. 

Let’s go back to the basics. Consistency in style, proper grammar and usage does make a difference when writing. Certainly, journalists will know the difference, and yes, there’s the PR agency boss that seems to know when to use farther and further. 

But, how should you approach the AP style challenge? Most likely it’s best to say, “Hey, this is fun and I can use this stuff at a party to impress my friends and enemies.” 

Or, even better, “Gosh, I can actually explain to someone why I used this particular word.” Here is my advice (and please weigh in with your thoughts). Common sense and consistency are the most important things. Sure, it’s nice to know that the new brochure for the client is a “flier” and not an airplane stunt pilot (flyer), but that’s cocktail party stuff. If you are inconsistent in the use of punctuation around quotes, then someone is going to notice. 

Tell us here at the PR Chronicle what you’ve found to be the case with the AP style and your classes or company.

1 thought on “AP Style: Not all the answers you will need, but it’s a good start.

  1. As a PR writing teacher I understand the importance of AP style, even though I know that most of our students will need to know other styles in their careers. Most places I’ve worked used Chicago style for their internal and external/non-media documents. Other places, such as the Indiana General Assembly, have their own styles. Some places have no chosen style, which means is no consistency in their written style. I understand from a broadcast colleague that AP style is not useful for radio or television. The main reason for students to learn AP style is to experience the discipline of learning and following a style. Learning AP style helps highlight important issues such as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. As long as our students know the limitations of AP style, I agree that we should teach it. It’s as good a starting place as any! (p.s. You’ll notice I did not use AP style for this comment!)

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