How to Write AP Style


Associated Press style, or AP style, is the gold standard for journalistic writing. A successful career in print, broadcast or online journalism requires a working knowledge of AP style, which is maintained by the Associated Press, the world's oldest and largest news service. Fortunately for the novice newshound, writing in AP style is not a difficult task. It begins with obtaining a copy of the AP Stylebook and keeping it near your computer as a helpful reference guide for everything from when to spell out numbers to how to understand libel law.

Obtain a copy of the AP Stylebook. You can find it in the reference sections of most bookstores. You also can purchase the stylebook online from the Associated Press website.

Study the stylebook to familiarize yourself with its contents and the location of important information. The book contains guides to the finer points of style, such as how to write numbers, professional titles, dates, street addresses and abbreviations, but it also contains useful information on sports and business writing and libel -- valuable information for any journalist, from rookie reporter to seasoned newsroom veteran.

Write a news story that opens with a lead sentence that summarizes the most important facts of the news or event in 30 to 40 words. Flesh out the details of the event in subsequent paragraphs. Consult the AP stylebook to ensure your article follows proper style on capitalization, street addresses, abbreviations and other details of style. Whenever in doubt, make a habit of consulting the stylebook.

Start direct quotations with a new paragraph in your news story. Each quotation must have its own paragraph. When the speaking person changes topics, start a new paragraph. Quote speakers accurately to avoid distortion.