Happy New Year! It’s always refreshing to see the Earth’s odometer roll back around to January 1. Or should I say “Jan. 1st?” I could also be a little more formal and spell it out completely as “January the First” in celebration of what will be a grand lineage of 2017 dates.
But if you flipped through a newspaper or scrolled down a news site on New Year’s Day, chances are you saw it simply as “Jan. 1” in accordance with the Associated Press writing style, lovingly referred to by journalists everywhere as “AP Style.” It’s a trade tool many news organizations follow to give their content an efficient and uniform feel, which has made the “AP Stylebook,” updated yearly by the Associated Press, a staple in any newsroom and journalism classroom.
And if you’re thinking it may be a bit nitpicky to argue whether you should be writing “State Street” or “State St.,” you’re probably right. However, you’ll want to be paying attention if you’re sending out written content – whether it’s a press release or an op-ed – with the mission of getting it published. You want your work to fit a news organization’s needs as perfectly as possible, and a great way to start is by writing in their language.
While there are thousands of entries in the intimidatingly thick “AP Stylebook,” following some key rules when sitting down to author your next board announcement will help make it look like you were born with that little journalistic encyclopedia in your hands.
Time: Use “a.m.” or “p.m.” to specify the proper time of day (8:30 p.m.). “Noon” and “midnight” should be used instead of “12 p.m.” and “12 a.m.” If using a time that’s on the hour, no need for the colon or extra zeroes – keep it simple (8 p.m.).
Dates: Abbreviate Jan., Feb., Aug. Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. when they’re written with a specific date (Jan. 1). Spell out all months when they’re written alone (It’s been a rainy January). And no need to add letter suffixes to the days of the week (Jan. 1 rather than Jan. 1st).
Addresses: When written with the numbered address, abbreviate only Ave., Blvd. and St. (1317 State St.) Got a directional cue in the address? Abbreviate that too (351 S. Hitchcock Way). Spell out the entire street name if referred to without a specific address (The parade will go down South Broad Boulevard).
Numbers/Ages/Money: In general, spell out the numbers one through ten and use numerals for anything above (Five people RSVPd for the event, and 20 people showed up). Use figures to specify ages (The boy, 8, is a good candidate) and dollar amounts (Tickets are $5).
Names: Use the first and last name the first time someone is referenced. Keep to the second name after that. Example: John Smith will be recognized during a February ceremony. Smith is well regarded throughout the community.
Following these will go a long way to help your work transition right into a newspaper or news site. The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers a great online reference with much more, or if you really want to dive in, get the digital “AP Stylebook” here.
Now that you’re getting ideas for positive news for your organizations, need help getting them out to the community? Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation. Public Relations, Storytelling, Digital Marketing … we can help you implement a strategy for engagement and growth.