AP Style — Learn It!

Posted on December 10, 2010

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Want to get into professional journalism, writing for syndicated newspapers and magazines?

Learn to write AP Style.

The New York Times does it. The Associated Press (erego, AP style!) does it. You can do it, too.

You CAN be a professional journalist.

If you don’t own an AP style handbook, reference online sources. That’s what I do.

Some examples of AP style are:

  • Numbers — e.g., one through nine are written out — subsequent numbers are in number form — 10, 11 … 30, 40, etc.
  • Exceptions to the “numbers” rule are age, time of day, money, percentages, house number, years
  • Ingredients — e.g., ounces, pounds, tablespoon, teaspoon, etc. are abbreviated, but spell out inches, yards, feet
  • Hyphenated Words — e.g., anti-American, pro-life
  • Academic Degrees — e.g., academic — bachelor’s degree or Bachelor of Arts

It is not critical to know this style BEFORE you begin writing, but it is important to learn along the way if you want to break into and flourish in the professional journalism arena.

You can get the official 2010 AP Stylebook at http://www.apstylebook.com/?do=product&pid=978-0-917360-54-1. It costs $25 for the annual web-based version and $18.95 plus shipping for a spiral-bound copy.

If you’d prefer to conserve out-of-pocket expenses, you could buy an older, used version through Amazon.com. You’ll find several at this link — http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0465004881/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all.

For optimal savings, simply do a search on “AP style guide,” and you’ll find a plethora of sites for assistance.

Keep in mind that the Associated Press (AP) updates the handbook annually in their May issue.

For some, it’s hard to dive right into the deep end of the journalism pool. My advice is if you’re just starting off, write for Demand Media Studios (AKA Demand Studios, or DS) or wiseGEEK (AKA Write for Conjecture) to hone your skills. Both companies require strict guidelines for writing articles, provide some learning tools along the way and I believe both require AP style, which is something you can learn as you go.

If you can’t get accepted for either, write for the following sites:

Most of them even accept non-U.S. writers.

Here’s to all the writers, beginner and beyond — SALUTE!

Sherry — (^^)

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Posted in: Writing Tips