AP Stylebook

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from AP style)
Jump to: navigation, search
The Associated Press Stylebook
AP stylebook cover.jpg
AP Stylebook, 2004 edition
Author Norm Goldstein (editor 1979–2007);
AP Editors (since 2008)
Original title The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
Country United States
Language American English
Series Updated annually
Subject Style guide
Genre Journalism reference
Publisher Basic Books
Publication date
May 30, 2012
Media type Paperback
Pages 378 (47th edition)
ISBN 978-0-917360-56-5

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, usually called the AP Stylebook, is a style and usage guide used by newspapers and in the news industry in the United States. The book is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June.

Reporters, editors and others use the AP Stylebook as a guide for grammar, punctuation and principles and practices of reporting. Although some publications use a different style guide, the AP Stylebook is considered a newspaper industry standard; it is also used by broadcasters, magazines, and public relations firms, in part because its style guidelines offer short-form advantages designed to save scarce print space, such as dropping the Oxford comma and using figures for all numbers above nine.[1] It includes an A-to-Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage.

Example: If the title of governor is used before a name, it should be capitalized and abbreviated, e.g., Gov. Janet Napolitano, but when it is used generically by itself or after the name it should be lowercase and not abbreviated.[citation needed]


The stylebook is organized into sections:

Business Guidelines

A reference section for reporters covering business and financial news including general knowledge of accounting, bankruptcy, mergers and international bureaus. For instance, it includes explanations of five different chapters of bankruptcy.

Sports Guidelines and Style

Includes terminology, statistics, organization rules and guidelines commonly referenced by sports reporters. Example: The correct way to spell and use basketball terminology e.g. half-court pass, field goal and goaltending.

Guide to Punctuation

A specific guide on how to use punctuation in journalistic materials, this section includes rules regarding hyphens, commas, parentheses and quotations. Example: In a series use commas to separate items but no comma before a conjunction e.g. We bought eggs, milk and cheese at the store.

Briefing on Media Law

An overview of legal issues and ethical expectations for those working in the journalism industry. Example: The difference between slander and libel. Slander is spoken; libel is written, to start with.

Photo Captions

The simple formula of what to include when writing a photo cutline.

Editing Marks

A key with editing symbols to assist the journalist with the proofreading process. Example: When a word is circled it means that the word should be abbreviated, or that an abbreviation should be unabbreviated.


This provides second reference materials for information not included in the book. Example: Use Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Wiley, Hoboken, N.J. as first reference after the AP Stylebook for spelling, style, usage and foreign geographic names.


For many years the AP Stylebook was titled The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.[2] In 2000,[3][4] the guide was renamed The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.[5]


In addition to the printed AP Stylebook, the Associated Press offers a number of electronic versions. These include:

  • Subscription-based electronic versions of the stylebook, which are updated with style changes as they are made and offer additional features. An individual online subscription is available for $26 to general customers and through college bookstores. Subscriptions for existing AP members are available for $15.The additional features include:[6]
    • the addition of local style entries.[7]
    • the option to create notes on an AP listing
    • several ways to search for an AP entry
    • a specific guide on how to use punctuation in journalistic materials, which includes rules regarding hyphens, commas, parentheses, and quotations.
  • Site license discounts, which are available to AP members when buying online subscriptions in bulk, from 10 to 50,000 copies.[citation needed]
  • An iPhone app. When purchased from the AP website the cost is $16.75 for AP members or customers with a college bookstore code.[citation needed] For general customers the cost is $20.95.[citation needed]


The AP Stylebook in its modern form was first published in 1953. The 1953 publication focused on "where the wire set a specific style";[8] for nearly a quarter century it assumed its reader had a "solid grounding in language and a good reference library" and thus omitted any guidelines in those broader areas.[8] In 1977, prompted by AP Executive News Editor Louis Boccardi's request for "more of a reference work", the organization started expanding the book.[8] That year's book was produced jointly with competitor United Press International.[9] In 1989, Norm Goldstein became the AP Stylebook editor, a job he held until the 2007 edition.[8] After publishing the final edition under his editorship, Goldstein commented on changes:

I think the difference...now is that there is more information available on the Internet, and I'm not sure, and at least our executive editor is not sure, how much of a reference book we ought to be anymore. I think some of our historical background material like on previous hurricanes and earthquakes, that kind of encyclopedic material that's so easily available on the Internet now, might be cut back.

AP Stylebook editors Paula Froke, Sally Jacobsen and David Minthorn now lead the Stylebook.[10] The most recent print edition is the 2014 AP Stylebook, available spiral bound directly from AP. The 2013 AP Stylebook is offered as a perfect-bound paperback sold by Basic Books.

While nearly two million copies of the AP Stylebook have been distributed since 1977,[11] today the AP Stylebook is developing an online presence with profiles on social media platforms like Twitter (@APStylebook) [12] and Facebook.[13]

Revision process[edit]

The stylebook is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June, and at this time edits and new entries may be added. In 2008, 200 new entries were added, including words and phrases like “podcast”, “text messaging”, “social networking” and “high-definition”. The 2009 edition added the entries “Twitter” and “texting”. This is done to keep the stylebook up to date with technological and cultural changes.


  1. ^ Lamb, David. "Understanding 'Style'". AcademicWritingTutor.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
  3. ^ Mark S. Luckie (February 4, 2008). "= The history of the AP Stylebook". 10,000 Words. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  4. ^ Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  5. ^ Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  6. ^ "Associated Press". ap.com. 
  7. ^ "Associated Press". ap.com. 
  8. ^ a b c d "School of Journalism and Mass Communications". University of South Carolina. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  9. ^ United Press International. "Introduction to the UPI Stylebook". UPIU.  a social media platform for journalism students and "aspiring journalists".
  10. ^ {http://www.copyediting.com/guard-changes-ap-stylebook-team-editors}
  11. ^ "pr_041305a.html". Ap.org. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  12. ^ "AP Stylebook (APStylebook) on Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  13. ^ "AP Stylebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 

External links[edit]