Associated Press (AP) Writing Style Tips!

Here are some AP writing style tips that I have acquired. Whatever the style, consistency is key.

Number-related (Article 1)

Numbers. One through nine are spelled out, while 10 and above are written as numerals. She walked six blocks while carrying 12 books.

Percentages. Percentages are expressed as numerals and followed by the word “percent,” not “%.” Interest rates rose 3 percent.

Ages. Ages are expressed as numerals. Kevin is 29 years old.

Dollar Amounts. Dollar amounts are expressed as numerals, and the “$” sign is used. $1, $1o million.

Abbreviations

Street Addresses (Article 1). Numerals are used for numbered addresses. Street, Avenue and Boulevard are abbreviated when used with a numbered address, but otherwise are spelled out. Route and Road are never abbreviated. Our apartment is on 24 Independence Ave. We live on Independence Avenue. 

Dates  (Article 1.) Dates are expressed as numerals. The months August through February are abbreviated when used with numbered dates. March through July are never abbreviated. Months without dates are not abbreviated. “Th” is not used. The seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall – are never capitalized. Please note our meeting on Nov. 10. November is a beautiful month.

State abbreviations (Article 2). Each state has its own abbreviation: Mass. for Massachusetts; N.Y. for New York; Calif. for California; Fla. for Florida. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah – are not abbreviated.

Titles

Job Titles (Article 1). Job titles are generally capitalized when they appear before a person’s name, but lowercase after the name. President Obama. Barack Obama is the president.

Film, Book & Song Titles  (Articles 1 and 2). Capitalized and placed in quotation marks (this includes TV shows, works of art, speeches, video games). Do not use quote marks with reference books or the names of newspapers or magazines. Magazine and newspaper titles are not italicized; just capitalized. I read in Politico that Congress is in session. My favorite book is “Creating a World Without Poverty.” Have you seen “Revenge?”

Grammar (Article 2)

More than, over. Use more than with numbers, and use over when referring to spatial elements. In college, I wrote more than 100 papers. The store is just over the hill.

Because, since. Because indicates a specific cause-effect relationship: I went because I was told. Since describes an event in a sequence that leads logically to the second. They went to the show, since they had been given ticketsSince the product’s 2010 launch, it has sold more than 1 million copies.

Toward/Towards. Toward never ends in an s, same for forward, backward, upward, downward, etc.

United States, U.S. United States as a noun; U.S. as an adjective. The United States is a country north of Mexico; I need all of my U.S. documents when traveling.

That, Which. Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of the sentence. I remember the day that we met. Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas. The team, which won the championship last year, begins its new season next month.

Farther, further. Farther refers to physical distance. Pittsburgh is farther west than Philadelphia. Further refers to an extension of time or degree. If you have any further questions.

Some ad-hoc rules (Article 2). Boo-boo; bull’s-eye; dot-com (not dot.com); gobbledygook, G-string; hanky-panky; Kmart (no hyphen, no space, lowercase m); hell (not capitalized); OK; OK’d; pooh-pooh; T-shirt; U-turn

Article 1) Rogers, Tony. “The Basics of Associated Press Style.” About.com Journalism. About.com, n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2014.

Article 2) Vittorioso, Steve. “Twelve Common Mistakes of AP Style Twelve Common Mistakes of AP Style.” InkHouse.net. InkHouse, 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 08 Jan. 2014.

Mental Floss’ Article on Comma Usage (Hint: Consider Clarity & Economy)

logo_mental_floss

The Best Shots Fired in the Oxford Comma Wars

According to the article  the Oxford comma, “the comma before the conjunction at the end of a list,” is predominately used to enhance the clarity of a given passage. While I agree with this style, Oxford University Press style, because I believe that  clarity is paramount, others prefer economy (keep it simple and allow the reader to move on). Whatever the style, just don’t let it get in the way of your message!

Pro: “She took a photograph of her parents, the president, and the vice president.”

This example from the Chicago Manual of Style shows how the comma is necessary for clarity. Without it, she is taking a picture of two people, her mother and father, who are the president and vice president. With it, she is taking a picture of four people.

Con: “Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the fleet captain, the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones.”

This example from the 1934 style book of the New York Herald Tribune shows how a comma before “and” can result in a lack of clarity. With the comma, it reads as if Mr. Smith was the donor of the cup, which he was not.

And then there is this example, which could have been resolved by the use of the semicolon.
“By train, plane and sedan chair, Peter Ustinov retraces a journey made by Mark Twain a century ago. The highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

Languagehat dug this gem out of a comment thread on the serial comma. It’s from a TV listing in The Times. It supports the use of the Oxford comma, but only because it keeps Mandela from being a dildo collector. However, even the Oxford comma can’t keep him from being an 800-year-old demigod. There’s only so much a comma can do.

Okrent, Arika. “The Best Shots Fired in the Oxford Comma Wars.” Mental Floss, 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.

Advice from Greatist.com on How to Get Things Done

Between our professional work load, social calendar, academic goals, and volunteering commitments, it can sometimes feel like we are wearing too many hats all at the same time. There is never enough time in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month….

Coming from an Organizer through-and-through, I found this article (by Laura Schwecherl) both relevant and applicable. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back, make some lists,  and clean up a bit 🙂

#3. Wake up earlier. If still able to squeeze in enough sleep, try extending the day by getting up an hour earlier — when it’s still quiet and there are fewer distractions. My advice: Get to the gym in the morning! Even though it seems counter-productive, you’ll feel more energized, be in a better mood, and feel great about yourself before you  even get to the office.

#9. Take a midday workout break. Can’t fathom cleaning the bathroom? Or having writers’ block? Working out during the day could actually boost productivity, so the time spent exercising could actually help us get more done later. My advice: That is, if you haven’t already gone in the morning!

#16. “Eat the frogs.” We swear it’s a real term. Do the task you’re least looking forward to first to get it out of the way. (No guarantees Prince Charming will emerge.). My adivce: I think it depends on the task, sometimes it is nice to get the “little things” out of the way.

#24. De-clutter. Get rid of anything in the way that may cause distractions. Put away the dishes, fold clothes, and get rid of excess papers on the desk. My advice: You’ll feel like you already accomplished something, and will want to continue “the streak.

Schwecherl, Laura. “27 WAYS TO GET MORE SH!T DONE.” Greatist. Greatist.com, 28 Feb. 2012. Web. 09 Apr. 2013. <http://greatist.com/happiness/27-ways-get-more-sht-done&gt;.

BuzzFeed: “30 Ways To Instantly Transform Your Workspace”

Organization can take several forms (physically or electronically), and can yield several benefits (professionally or personally).  A clean desk encourages a clear head. But, sometimes trying to start a new system of organization can be arduous. Here is a creative, inspiring list to clean up – at home or at the office. Thank you, BuzzFeed!

Personally, I recommend:

#12. Binder clips make great cord catchers.

#16. Keep loose papers out of the way by attaching clipboards to the wall. Great for Project Managers that have several checklists to keep organized.

#19. Make a compact charging station out of a lotion bottle. This would be great to have in boardrooms or classrooms for when someone needs to charge their device on-the-go.

#28. Use a dishrack as a ready-made filing system.

 

Okun, Alanna. “30 Ways To Instantly Transform Your Workspace.” BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed.com, 02 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/30-easy-ways-to-organize-your-workspace&gt;.

Smart:Vocab GRE App

smart-vocab-gre-study-app-screen-shotSmart:Vocab GRE

This app is a fun and effective way to learn vocabulary! Uses iOS or Android operating systems.

When you first open the app, you must take a diagnostic test of 30 words. This test places you at an appropriate vocabulary level – from “White Belt” to “Black Belt.” You move up the ranking as you “master” more words. Once Black Belt is achieved, you will get “bonus words;” therefore, even if you place at an advanced level in the diagnostic, you will always be given additional words.

Words are organized into three different categories: Mastered; Current; Words Left (see icon above). Quizzes are available for both previously “mastered” words, as well as current words. Repetition is key to this app: you must correctly define a word on three different quizzes before it is considered “mastered.”

Once you have a couple hundred vocab words “mastered,” I recommend starting a Google doc or Excel spreadsheet that aggregates all similar definitions. This encourages the most efficacious vocabulary building. I also recommend regularly reviewing the “mastered” list within the app.

The cost is a flat fee of $4.99. It is definitely worth the investment.