Common AP Style Mistakes to Avoid

Every public relations practioner should be familiar and practiced with AP style – and always have the latest edition of the Associated Press Stylebook on hand. AP style is the language of our profession, and being up-to-date on the lingo and rules will only make you more marketable in the field. Though we preach the importance of never making an AP style mistake, some can still find their way to the final editing stage. Here are my ways to avoid making common AP style mistakes:

Eliminate the word on

Though it is common in conversation and other styles of writing, in AP style you do not need the word “on” when listing dates and days of the week.

Watch the abbreviations

Remember that months with five letters or less are not abbreviated – March, April, May, June and July. However, if longer than five letters, use the appropriate abbreviation. This rule also applies to states – if you are ever unsure, refer to your style guide.

Do not capitalize titles

Only capitalize titles if they precede an individual’s name – if the title comes after, it does not need to be capitalized. Just remember if it is first, then it is capitalized – like capitalizing the beginning of a sentence.

Composition titles

Newspaper and magazine titles are never italicized or put into quotation marks – they are only capitalized. For videos, books, films, television shows and speeches, always use quotation marks.

More than vs. over

More than” is the preferred word choice when talking about numbers, whereas “over” generally refers to spatial elements.

Do not capitalize seasons

Though we do capitalize months and days, we never capitalize the seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter.

Watch your times

If an event takes place on the hour, there is no need for the colon and zeroes after the number. Always use noon and midnight instead of the numerical version. Be sure to always include the “a.m.” or “p.m.” to the time. Avoid redundancies; no need to say “9 a.m. this morning.”

Writing is an imperative skill in the public relations profession. By studying the AP style rules and continuously practicing them, we are making ourselves better writers and more prepared professionals. Remember, if you are ever unsure or feel as if you are forgetting an AP style rule, always refer to your Associated Press Stylebook – it will be your best friend.


Natalie Gloady is a current junior at Waynesburg University, where she is majoring in public relations and sports information, while minoring in Spanish. She serves as the public relations director for WUPRSSA and as an assistant firm director for Red Brick Communications. Natalie hopes to pursue a job in the sports industry or as a social media coordinator post graduation. Follow her on Twitter or connect with Natalie on LinkedIn.

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