In order to become a print journalist, it’s essential to brush up on your AP Style skills. Associated Press Style provides guidelines for news writing and is used by a number of newspapers, magazines, and public relations offices across the United States.
One of the first things learned in a journalism class is AP style. This is because it is a gold standard for journalists. AP Style is important for public relations writers because it gives them a reputation of professionalism. Also, since PR writers are creating press releases that will ideally be put in the newspaper, it helps reporters for the format to already be correct for efficient release in the media.
The trickier parts of AP Style that seem to get me every time is punctuation! Especially semi-colons, dashes, and colons. Punctuation is important for a writer to develop their tone of voice and flow, yet I am always confused on which punctuation to insert and where.
Another tricky aspect of AP Style is the state names. For example, in a date line you abbreviate all but eight of the states. These states are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. How does AP style expect us to remember these things?
Something else that is somewhat confusing is ages and numbers. Every number over ten is expressed in digit format. But under ten is spelled out. However, with ages, you always use figures. And you use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes before a noun. For example: “A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old. The woman, 26, has a daughter 3 months old. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe).”
I just mentioned a few examples of how AP Style can be a bit complicated sometimes, so it would be beneficial for those hoping to enter a career in print journalism or public relations to get their hands on some sort of AP style resource!