5 common AP style mistakes to avoid

AP Stylebook

Every good PR account executive should have a firm grasp of AP style. Each team member at Estes Public Relations has a stylebook on his or her desk. But sometimes things slip through the cracks. Our in-house editor Rachel Goldenberg explains the mistakes she finds most.

Look for these errors:

1. Don’t capitalize titles. Unless they’re the President or Mayor, its lowercase. And while we’re at it – don’t capitalize seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) either.

2. Numbers are tricky. Remember to write out one through nine and list 10 or more. Watch out, if its a percentage is always a numeral.

3. Pay attention to abbreviations. Months with five letters or few are written out (and all in a row – March, April, May, June, July) while longer ones are abbreviated like Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Each state in the United States has a set abbreviation too – look it up!

4. Get off the word ‘on.’ You don’t need it when you’re listing a date or day of the week.

5. Watch your times. If an event takes place on the hour, there is no need for a colon followed by zeroes. Always include periods in a.m. and p.m.

And one more… When it comes to more than vs. over, AP changed their ruling recently but we stick to our guns. It’s always “more than” here!

If you’re not sure, you can always check the AP Stylebook online. We watch it closely for changes – and they happen. New words and rules are added regularly. The Associated Press even added a whole section about food and editing recipes not that long ago! It’s like they knew we were here in food and beverage PR world looking for a standardized answer. We work hard to go along with AP’s style rules to make it easiest for journalists to do their job and talk about our clients.