AP Style: Most Important Do’s and Don’ts

By Mimi Cooper

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

Nearly every student attending Grady College is aware of the Associated Press style. AP style refers to the rules from the Associated Press Stylebook that serve as a guide for writing professionals in the United States. AP style is absolutely crucial in the writing world, but can be difficult to learn. There are many tricky rules and specifications, so here are some do’s and don’ts that might help.

DO use the Grady Newsource Local Style Guide as a local Athens and University of Georgia style guide in addition to the AP Stylebook. This guide includes numerous examples of abbreviations, titles, locations, organizations, restaurants and more all located in Athens. 

DON’T use anything else but a colon to separate hours from minutes when telling the time. The following format is correct: 11:30 a.m. Never use figures for noon and midnight. There is no such thing as 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. in AP style.

DO spell out whole numbers up to nine (e.g. one, two,…nine). At 10 and up, use figures.

DON’T include the state name along with a city if it is the same as the dateline. However, if there is no dateline, be sure to include the state name: Athens, Georgia.

DO only use hyphens if it makes the sentence clearer and avoids ambiguity. Hyphens can be confusing if used inappropriately. 

DON’T capitalize job titles unless they are formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. For example, Pope Francis is the pope, not the Pope.

DO put the comma before a quotation mark. “Don’t forget this,” I say to anyone reading this.

DON’T assume all abbreviations are recognized by everyone. This article is published by the Drewry Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America. While the majority of those reading this are aware of what PRSSA stands for, it is important to delineate on first reference. 

DO use the abbreviations such as Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address. Grady College is located at 120 Hooper St., and it’s next to Sanford Street. All other words used in addresses are always spelled out (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.).

DON’T be afraid to look up any uncertainties about grammar, spelling or punctuation. No one remembers every little rule of the AP style, but luckily we don’t have to. With the use of the AP Stylebook, we got this!