Five Common AP Style Edits That Clients Make When Reviewing Content

A few years ago, a client was editing a press release and remarked, “that’s right, you guys write in that special way.” Yes, and it’s called AP Style.

Associated Press Style is the guideline that (most) journalists follow when writing stories. As pr professionals, our goal is to get a press release picked up and by writing the way that media write, we are providing them with turnkey content. Often times this creates an educational opportunity with clients as they review press releases and edit these nuances that are known as AP Style. There are five common edits that clients make when reviewing materials that are accurate but may look odd due to stylebook guidelines.

1.     Titles. This is the No. 1 edit that clients make as most people like to see their title capitalized. The AP Stylebook guideline is that titles are capitalized when they go in front of a name and they are not capitalized when they appear after a name. The correct way to use titles is Robert Friedl, general manager of The Sebastian – Vail, and The Sebastian – Vail General Manager Robert Friedl.

2.     Numbers. The rules for use of numerals are a page long in the AP Stylebook, however the easy rule is to “spell out numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above.” An example of how to use this rule is for two years the Taste of Vail has showcased more than 40 types of rosé during its Debut of Rosé event.

3.     States. Postal codes are not used as abbreviations for states when following AP Style. There is a unique set of rules as to how all 50 states are abbreviated and they extend beyond the traditional two letter postal guidelines. An example of how states are noted is Resort at Squaw Creek is located in Olympic Valley, Calif. and Chase Candy Company, home of the Cherry Mash, is based in St. Joseph, Mo. 

4.     Percentages. The symbol – % – is never used in standard media writing. The rule is to always write out the word “percent.” For example, the Vail Valley is striving for 100 percent occupancy during the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships.

5.     Times. According to the AP Stylebook, “use figures except for noon and midnight.” It’s also accurate to use the numbers with a.m. and p.m. (periods after each letter). The correct use of this rule is last summer, the Friday Afternoon Club at Adventure Ridge on Vail Mountain started at 5 p.m.

Many public relations pros went to journalism school and had these rules drilled into them during Journalism 101. It’s second hand for many of us to write in this manner so the next time a client redlines a press release due to AP Style writing, take it as an opportunity to educate them on the “special way” in which we write.

For more information on AP Stylebook guidelines, please visit or follow via Twitter @APStylebook.