AP Style Cheat Sheet

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AP Style Tips

Serial Comma

In newspaper stories, you might notice that a comma seems to be missing in sentences like, “The three main candidates are Obama, Clinton and Edwards.” That is because, according to the stylebook, one should not “put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.”


Time date and place: When reminding readers about when to show up, use the following order: time, date, place. “The lecture is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at David Kinley Hall.”

CORRECT: The train arrives at 3 p.m. Jan. 3 at Union Station
INCORRECT: The train arrives at Union Station on Jan. 3 at 3 p.m.

CORRECT: It’s 7 p.m.
INCORRECT: It’s 7:00 p.m.

When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone.

When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas.

EXAMPLES: January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday is May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred.


In referring to cities, many of them don’t need their states mentioned along with them. Cities that stand alone are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C.

The names of states are spelled out in full.


When encountering formal titles (Chairman, President, etc.), capitalize them immediately before a name but lowercase them when used alone or when they are set off by commas: Village President   Irvana Wilks, but Irvana Wilks, president of the village.  

As for titles of   books, films and plays, the AP rules are as follows. Capitalize principal   words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters; articles (a, an, the); or words of fewer than four letters if the article is the first or last word in a title. Titles should be bracketed by quotation marks (“The Wizard of Oz,” “Of Human Bondage” and “The Sun Also Rises”). Exceptions include the Bible and such reference books as almanacs, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Website: Also, webcam, webcast and webmaster. But as a short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.

Email: Use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce.

Percent: (not %) The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade. He said 50 percent of the membership was there.

Numbers: As a general rule, spell out numbers from one through nine. Use Arabic figures for 10 and above.
Example: first day, one woman, 10 days,21st year, nine years, 50 more.


The Library has a copy of the The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, PN4783 .A83 2000 (non-circulating)

ALA Specific Syntax

We use audiobook instead of audio book.