AP Style is all-consuming

Via Flickr user william couch.

Via Flickr user william couch.

The AP Stylebook is every journalist’s bible.

It is the standard stylebook of grammar and punctuation for writers. It tells you how to spell words, write numbers and dates, and is your general guide in life. How else would you know that “health care” is two words? (Just to prove its relevance, the AP Stylebook proclaimed in 2010 that writers could stop spelling website as “Web site.”)

But AP Style is all-consuming and cruel. No matter how hard I try, I can’t turn it off. I want everything to follow AP Style’s sometimes random rules (except for the Oxford comma, but that’s a topic for another day). That flyer on the phone pole, that book, that website — it all should bow to the might of AP Style.

I can’t see anything without mentally editing it.

Here are all the ways the journalist’s bible has messed me for good.

  • I write appointments in my calendar in AP Style. If I have an interview at noon, I will write noon, not 12 p.m. and never just 12.
  • I feel guilty when I write that I went to college in Athens, GA and not Athens, Ga.
  • A voice in my head screams “No!” when I start a sentence with a number that isn’t spelled out.
  • That man didn’t state anything. He said.
  • Dumpster, Jacuzzi, and Ping-Pong are trademarked words. I get a sinking feeling if I think of using them.

What ways has AP Style messed you up?

  1. Awesome. I SO identify with this post. I have been copy editing for news for 20 years, since college, where I specialized in copy editing. I edit EVERYTHING mentally. And, yes, it’s generally in AP style in my head. But there are so many egregious errors out there in grammar and spelling and everything else that just making what I see into proper English, let alone AP style, is quite a bit of mental work. And, yes, I don’t ever say “Jacuzzi.” I say “hot tub.”

    • It’s nice to know we’re not alone. There are others out there who can’t say Jacuzzi without cringing.

  2. brilliant post. I am just very worried now to leave a comment. Hope my sentence doesn’t give you a headache when you are counting the mistakes 😀

  3. Thomas Nuffan said:

    It drives me nuts. Its blatant hatred for the oxford comma breaks my heart

  4. AP doesn’t hate the serial comma. Here’s what the editors say: “In a simple series, AP doesn’t use a comma before the last item. For a series of complex terms, though, use commas after each for clarity.”

    • True, but in general, AP is not a fan of the Oxford comma.

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