Cracking the AP style

Aden Morvice (left) and Emmet Jamieson study the AP Stylebook. Photo by Megan McGregor

The AP Stylebook is the cherub life jacket. It should be used with every assignment and referred to before looking anything up on the internet.

The AP Stylebook has specific rules that every instructor expects cherubs to learn, even basic information, such as writing numerals. Using AP style ensures that every article is neat and consistent from the overarching theme to the smallest details. Minor style infractions may cause readers to question the accuracy of the article.

Information is easy to find in the AP Stylebook. Like a dictionary, the items are organized in alphabetical order.  An index makes it easier to find specific information, while the sub-categories answer questions with AP logic. The stylebook contains almost anything a cherub needs to write an article with correct style.

Below are some examples of AP style that cherubs use almost daily.

In general, spell the numbers one through nine and use numerals for numbers 10 and higher.

  • Example: He ate seven cookies.
  • Example: They ordered 12 cupcakes.

The most important thing to remember with ages is to ALWAYS use figures.
When ages are expressed as nouns, use hyphens.

  • Example: The girl is 15 years old.
  • Example: The 15-year-old is a hero.

When ages are used as adjectives to modify a noun, use hyphens.

  • Example: The 101-year-old house is falling apart.

Street Addresses
Only the words “street,” “avenue” and “boulevard” are abbreviated and only when used with a numbered address.

  • Example: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
  • Example: 4 Privet Drive

Spell out “street,” “avenue” and “boulevard” when part of a formal name without a number.

  • Example: Chicago Avenue

Phone Numbers
Do NOT use parentheses around the area code.

  • Example: 888-888-8888

Months and Seasons
Abbreviate January, February, August, September, October, November and December with specific dates.

  • Example: Sept. 13, 2001

Spell out months when they stand alone or are combined with a year.

  • Example: July 2019 was hot.

Lowercase seasons unless part of a formal name.

  • Example: My favorite season is spring.
  • Example: The Summer Olympics were in London in 2012.

Only capitalize formal titles used directly before someone’s name.

  • Example: The mayor of Chicago is Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Lowercase titles when they are not used with an individual’s name.

  • Example: The president went to dinner with his wife.

Use figures except for noon and midnight.

  • Example: 3:30 p.m.
  • Example: 9-11 a.m.

Amount versus Number
Use “amount” for masses that you cannot count.

  • Example: Amount of water

Use “number” for things that you can count.

  • Example: The number of people

Less versus Few
Use “less” when discussing singular mass nouns.

  • Example: I have less money than before.

Use “few” for things that can be counted.

  • Example: I have only a few dollars.

Do NOT use the Oxford comma
Use % instead of percent.

  • Example: 23%

Spell out “versus” in ordinary speech and writing. Use vs. in short expressions such as gun vs. butter. Use v. for court cases.

Do NOT italicize magazine and newspaper titles.
Use quotation marks around books, films, TV shows, works of art, etc.

  • Example: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Toward, forward, backward and upward do not end with “s.”

These are some of the tips  in the AP Stylebook. These tips help when writing almost any article, especially when there is not enough time to search the stylebook. This should help familiarize you with the AP style so that you can show up to cherubs prepared and excited to work on articles. When in doubt, the AP Stylebook has the answers. It’s a matter of searching for them.