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An Introduction to the AP Stylebook

The AP Stylebook is the go-to style guide for anyone working in journalism. But why is this guide so popular? And what do you need to know about it as a proofreader? Let’s take a look.

What Is The Associated Press Stylebook?

The Associated Press Stylebook is created by the Associated Press (AP), a major news agency based in New York. The stylebook is thus widely associated with journalism.

First published in 1953, the AP released the most recent edition (the 55th edition) in 2020. It has grown significantly over the years, covering everything from media ethics to punctuation. The aim of the stylebook is to ensure clarity, consistency, and accuracy in journalistic writing.

The current AP Stylebook, published by Lorenz Press.
The current AP Stylebook, published by Lorenz Press.

Who Uses AP Style?

The AP Stylebook is mainly aimed at journalists and those involved in news writing. Any professional journalist will need to know the basics of AP style. And while many newspapers and magazines have in-house style sheets, these are often similar to AP style.

However, AP style is not limited to journalism! Due to its reputation for clarity, many corporate writers have adopted AP style, too. For instance, some companies use AP style for press releases and marketing materials. So, if you work with clients in public relations or corporate publishing, you may find yourself using The AP Stylebook for reference.

In addition, while AP style focuses on American English, it is used around the world. Keep this in mind when proofreading, as you may need to adapt some things to reflect your client’s dialect (e.g., spelling differences between US and UK English).

What Does It Cover?

The AP Stylebook is an in-depth guide to writing for news organisations. The main “Stylebook” is an A-Z list of terms and how to use them. This ranges from AAA (the American Automobile Association) to ZIP code (always written with a capital “ZIP”).

However, the style guide also contains:

  • A guide to internet vocabulary and search engine tips
  • Specific guidelines for sports and business writing
  • A detailed punctuation guide
  • Advice on media law and libel
  • Guidance on writing photo captions
  • A guide to proofreader’s marks used by editors

As such, if you’re a proofreader who deals with a lot of journalistic writing, The AP Stylebook is a good investment! Just make sure that you know the basics set out in our style module first.

Becoming a Proofreader

If you would like to know more about style guides and how style factors into proofreading, why not try our Becoming A Proofreader course? As well as writing style, the course covers everything from common spelling errors to how use Microsoft Word effectively. As such, it will teach you everything you need to know to start working as a freelance proofreader.

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