By: John Lee
As rising PR professionals, it is essential that we gain the skills necessary to better ourselves and further our learning in this ever-growing field. One of the tools we will need throughout our journey is understanding how to write in Associated Press style. AP style was created to produce clarity, convenience and consistency. It is common practice among journalist and PR professionals to use this style when writing press releases, news releases, case studies and any other PR related document. Although it is impossible to learn all the intricate rules in one day, here are a few to get you started.
- State Abbreviations- AP style does not follow the standard state abbreviations we are used to. When the name of a city and state are used together, the state name should be abbreviated with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. However, there are exceptions to this rule, depending on the city you are referencing. Some cities do not need a state to follow it. When writing just the state alone, it does not have to be abbreviated. It is best to reference the AP handbook for the state abbreviations and exceptions when following this rule, as it is recent and still new to many. For example, PRSSA is a national organization with many organizations in California, Washington and Texas. The national conference was held in Seattle and hopefully it can be held in Carson City, Nev. next year!
- Titles- Only capitalize formal titles names when you are writing the title before the name. When writing titles after the name, the formal titles are lowercase. For example, Mayor Daniel Guerrero spoke to Texas State’s PRSSA chapter. After he spoke, David, an account executive at Edelman, offered his insights.
- Numbers- When dealing with numbers in AP style, write out the numbers one through nine. Anything above nine, you write out the numerical value. Also, when you are dealing with percent, write out the word percent and do not use the symbol. For example, Texas State had an increase of seven percent on PRSSA memberships. This is an increase from last years 15 percent drop.
- Dates/Months- It is important to reduce redundancies when including dates in AP style. Instead of writing out full dates such as, Thursday, April 6, 2017, you can just say April 6. Also, avoid adding “th” to the end of the dates. With months, only abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Basically, just the months that contain more than five letters.
- Like/Such As- Use like to compare things. Use such as when you are providing examples. For example, PRSSA members are like real PR professionals.
AP style is one that takes a long time to master. However, follow these basic guidelines will help you get a kickstart to tackling this huge obstacle. If you would like more information, click here to check out the most recent AP style handbook.