Mar 14, 2012

Using AP Style For Your Content Development

When it comes to writing, there are many different styles, such as MLA, Chicago and AP. For those who are not avid writers, it is possible the difference between them is unknown. All three styles are different guides for writing, and each one has their own unique rules and guidelines. These guidelines are often incorporated into web content development to ensure consistency.

These guides were mainly written for the printed word therefore you will find some rules which will not be compatible with web writing. One example of these rules is the underlining of titles. On a web format a reader might confuse an underlined item with a linked item.

AP Style stands for Associated Press Style, which comes from the Associated Press Style Guide. This Style Guide was started in 1953 as a way to keep writing standardized.

AP Style is typically found in news stories and news media. It is considered more formal, and many other professions utilize it, including magazines and public relations. AP Style is widely known, and many schools also require papers to be written using this format.

The Style Guide is very detailed and can be considered overwhelming. Most people, even the most educated writers, still need to refer back to it for grammar, punctuation and spelling. In order to remain current, the Style Guide is updated every year.

Learning everything in the Style Guide would probably take a lifetime to achieve, so it's important to get a copy for reference. While it would take too long to go through all of the guidelines throughout the Style Guide, below are a few of the most popular items in AP Style.

1. Punctuation

After a period at the end of a sentence, AP Style requires only a single space before the beginning of the following sentence. As for commas, you do not use them after the conjunction used for items in a simple list format. For example:
• He went to the store for milk, butter, eggs and bread.
Also, in AP Style, all punctuation is placed inside quotation marks.

2. Names

If you are writing an article that requires the mention of someone's name, his or her entire first and last name is written for the first mention. After that initial mention, only the person's last name needs to be used.

3. Titles

This question is always in the back of our minds: Do we italicize titles or place them in quotations? In AP Style, all titles of major works of art, including books, movies and song titles, are placed in quotations.

Another topic that poses some confusion is whether or not to capitalize job titles. In AP Style, job titles are only capitalized when used before the person's name, as in President Barack Obama. If the job title is not followed by a name, it is not capitalized.

4. Numbers

Numbers are often used differently across the board. Sometimes, we'll see them written out and other times, we will see them as numerics. With AP Style, numbers one through nine are always written out, while anything 10 or higher uses the numerals.

The exception to this is with ages, money and percentages. AP Style requires that all ages be written numerically; all money be written numerically using the $ symbol; and all percentages be written numerically with the word "percent" following it (not the % symbol).

If unused to AP Style, it can be difficult to memorize all the different guidelines and rules, which is why the Style Guide should be available for reference. If your job requires you to write in AP Style, it is a good idea to learn the basics. Eventually, you will continue to learn more and more and will be less likely to constantly refer to the Style Guide for, well, guidance.

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