Six Common AP Style Mistakes

By Sonya Beckley

I recently had a new client express his happiness at getting his press release picked up by so many industry websites. His usual experience was that one or two might run his release. I believe the main reason his story had so many pickups this time was because it was written using the AP Stylebook.  AP is the journalism standard. If your story is one that an editor can just copy and paste, it has a much better chance than one that needs editing. With so much content online, there is a constant need for fresh news, and this is an opportunity for our clients. Editors don’t have time to rewrite everything submitted, and one of the most fundamental things we must do is ensure we are following AP guidelines.

Since standards evolve, it’s important to buy an updated book whenever it comes out, or better yet, register for the online stylebook at  This way, you receive the latest updates and can receive email updates of any changes. I write almost every day in my job, and I still use the guide constantly because I know I don’t know everything. It’s not prudent to just use what you’ve seen others do. There are other stylebooks, but in journalism and PR, we use the AP, so it is the final authority.

Here are six common mistakes I see:

  • Nonprofit is correct and so is not-for-profit.
  • It’s a website, but it’s found on the Web.
  • It’s President John Doe, but John Doe is president of the company.
  • You receive a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, but you have a bachelor’s degree (It’s also correct to have a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism).
  • It’s OK in AP, but it is not okay.
  • Do not capitalize a Word just because you think it’s important—all nouns are not created equal.

Feel free to add your own to the list.