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60th Anniversary of the AP Style Book

This isn’t your normal Birthday party. For readers it may feel like a ho-hum, but for writers this is a big deal. If we want to get ourselves in print in the media including newspapers, magazines and the like this is really important that we not only know what this little book is but that we at least follow the basics in this style guide.   bigstock-happy-birthday-cake-shot-on-a--14496323

At my party, it’s a toss-up who gets to blow out the candles on the cake, my husband or me. My personal favorite cake is sour cream white cake with lemon frosting! Don’t worry, I usually include a chocolate cake, too, for all of you chocoholics.

Let’s blow out the candles and have some of that cake. Then, I thought we would take a quick look at some of the most common guidelines we use every day in the AP Style Guide.

Commas in a series: Use commas to separate elements in a list, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple list. Example: We purchased apples, oranges and pears. Even though the style guide says “No comma before the conjunction” your grammar check on MSWord will indicate that a comma is required before the conjunction. I suggest that you follow the AP if you are submitting to the media.

Quotation marks: Commas go inside quotation marks.

Numbers: In general (except in the case of ages, dimensions or distances when and you only use numbers) spell out numbers 1 through 9 and use the numerals for 10 and higher. If a number begins a sentence, then always spell it out except when the number is a calendar year. Also, spell out numbers used in casual expressions: “Thanks a million.”

Ages: Always use numbers for people and animals, but not for inanimate objects. Example: The boy is 13 years old; the law is nine years old. Use hyphens for ages used as adjectives before a noun or in place of a noun: Example: She’s a 3-year-old girl. The girl is 3 years old.

State abbreviations: Do not use tow letter ZIP code abbreviations such as IL(Illinois) and WA(Washington) unless they’re part of a full address. Otherwise, use the traditional abbreviations we learned in school, for example, Ill. (Illinois) and Wash. (Washington) and only when a city or county name precedes the state name. However, according to AP, the following states do not use abbreviations: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas or Utah.

Addresses: Street, avenue and boulevard (St., Ave., Blvd.) are abbreviated when writing street addresses that include numbers. Road, highway, terrace, circle are never abbreviated. Example: The school is on Canal Street. Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School is at 222 Canal St.

The new AP Style Guide will release on July 13, 2013 in all formats. Don’t forget to pick up a copy for your reference shelf or ereader.