What you write, and how you write – Top 8 AP Style mistakes


As communicators, we pride ourselves on the ability to share information effectively, both written and verbal. But, it’s not always easy to stay in line with AP Style. Just as important as the information you write, how you write affects your credibility with media and readers alike. We’ve compiled the top 8 most common AP Style mistakes to help bolster your AP Style skill, check it out!

  1. Capitalizing Job Titles – Job titles are only capitalized when placed immediately before a name, ex. Mayor John Doe or John Doe, mayor of Appletown.
  2. Numbers 1-9 – AP Style states that any number under 10, must be spelled out. The only exception: when used in a title. Ex. Appletown has eight restaurants and 12 gas stations.
  3. Acronyms – Don’t forget that not all your readers are subject matter experts (SME), and spell out an acronym before using it elsewhere.
  4. Books vs. Periodicals – AP Style states to use quotation marks around titles of books, songs, movies, poems, works of art, etc. But periodicals can be written plainly with initial capitalizations. Just remember that NONE of them are italicized or underlined.
  5. Double Spacing – In an industry that counts every letter and character, DON’T double space after a sentence; it’s an antiquated habit that AP Style deems unnecessary.
  6. Using % Symbol – In AP Style, you used to have to write percent out, but in 2019 the % sign may be used when paired with a number, with no space, in most cases.  *
  7. More Than vs. Over – Previous AP style focused on using “more than” when referencing numbers, but “over” when referring to spatial elements. However, it is now acceptable in all uses to use over to indicate greater numerical value.
  8. That vs. Which – AP Style says to use “that” and “which” when referring to inanimate objects or animals without names. Use “that” for essential clauses, and “which” for nonessential clauses. Ex. I remember the day that we met. The weather, which was cold last year, was very warm.

When in doubt, always reference the AP Style Book which can be accessed online at: https://www.apstylebook.com/

*Information updated

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