Is AP Style Worth the Fuss? Indisputably, Yes.

When your goal is to produce clean, crisp and consistent writing that’s suitable for a public audience, the Associated Press Stylebook is your bible.

It’s the definitive resource for any content that will meet the public eye—whether you’re writing an opinion piece for the Washington Post, a how-to article for a trade magazine or a company press release.

In case you don’t know, the AP Stylebook is a comprehensive writing and editing reference that pretty much every newspaper and magazine in the Western world follows to ensure clarity and consistency. At about 600 pages, it includes fundamental rules on spelling, usage, punctuation and style, with updates made continuously by a team of top AP editors to reflect our ever-evolving language.

At CanaleComm, we strongly encourage our clients in the life science industry to follow AP Style for all forms of writing, from website copy and PowerPoint presentations to blog posts and press releases. Following these guidelines makes you look like the smart communicator you are.

But because AP Style is a new concept to many of our science-driven clients who understandably haven’t devoted their careers to working with the media, we’ve pulled together some key AP guidelines:

  • If a job title is before a person’s name, capitalize. All titles after the person’s name are lowercase, except CEO.
  • Spell out numbers one through nine, use numerals for 10 and up.
  • Do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. However, use a comma for clarity if there is a conjunction in the series: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
  • In lists, capitalize the first word of each item and end each with a period even if it’s a phrase.
  • If a company or product name starts with a lower-case letter (such as eBay or iPhone), you still capitalize the beginning letter at the start of a sentence.
  • Only one space between sentences.
  • Use “website,” “email” and “internet.”
  • Thirty U.S. cities and 49 international cities never require a state to follow the city name. These “dateline” cities include biotech hubs of San Diego, San Francisco and Boston.
  • When in doubt on the correct spelling or style of a word that’s not in the AP Stylebook, consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

AP Style is what keeps our written language from going the way of the Wild West, which is why we recommend that you keep an AP Stylebook within arms-reach of your keyboard. At the very least, be aware of AP Style and the importance it plays in the publications that you read every day—you can always lean on us to help you with the particulars.

When it comes time to produce your next written masterpiece, AP Style will help you create a polished product that meets the stylistic standards of the magazines and newspapers you love.