Ashleigh Johnston, Consultant

It’s a holiday weekend, so I know you all are using your free time to brush up on your grammar and spelling, per my last blog “Let’s eat grandma”. I applaud your dedication and would like to add to your list of studies with an overview of AP Style. If you send anything to the media, AP Style matters! If you submit something that is riddled with inconsistencies and AP Style errors, there is a good chance it will be tossed aside. To help you avoid this I’ve created a quick reference of the most frequent errors I come across:

1.     Toward – Never towards

2.     Nonprofit- All one word

3.    Health care – Two words

4.     a.m. or p.m.

5.     Spokesman or spokeswoman – Never spokesperson. If the sex is unknown, use ‘representative’

6.    Titles – Occupational titles are always lowercase

7.     Technology terms – email, Facebook, Twitter, home page, website, social media

8.    Percent – Never use the % sign, should be all one word and used with numerical figures, example: 10 percent

9.     Numbers – Precede numerical figure with the dollar sign, example: $10

10.  Months – When a month is used with a date abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and  Dec.  Spell out when using alone or with only a year.Examples: January 2002, Jan. 2, Feb. 14, 2010.

If you don’t already have an office copy of the AP Style guidebook, I suggest you remedy this immediately. New editions are published every year and are rarely more than $20 (See what I did there?). Save the editor or reporter the extra task of having to attack your press release, statement or feature with a red pen! When you send your message to the media free of AP Style errors, you’ll show that you are attentive to detail, understand the basic principles of journalism and are truly dedicated to getting published. Happy proofing and editing!