What is AP Style?

August 13, 2021

The University Public Relations Office follows AP Style, which has been developed over time by the Associated Press since 1953. It is used by U.S. newspapers as well as online news sites.

AP Style focuses on brevity, and being clear and concise. A few key AP Style nuances are:

  • Titles: do not capitalize an individual’s title after their name (e.g., Jane Doe, a professor in the School of Nursing) but do capitalize before their name (e.g., Nursing Professor Jane Doe).
  • Numbers: one through nine are spelled out, 10 and above are Arabic numerals. Exceptions are: spelling out numbers at the beginning of a sentence; use numerical figures in percentages and tables; and, always spell out million and billion following numerical figures.
  • Month and day: use numerals without st, nd, rd or th; and, abbreviate the months August through February with a date. The exception is a month without a date, spell these out.
  • Time: lowercase a.m. and p.m. with periods and always figures proceeding. The exception is at the hour, you do not include “:00.” If it is a time range, use only a.m. or p.m. once within the same time of day (e.g. 8-9 a.m.). Use both a.m. and p.m if it is not the same time of day (e.g., 9:30 p.m.- 1 a.m.).
  • Punctuation
    • Dashes: Dashes can be used to set off a series within a phrase, indicate a break in thought, or attribute a quote to an author.
    • Comma: In a list of three or more, do not use a comma before a conjunction unless it is meant to clarify a complex phrase.
    • Period: Use one space after a period.
    • Quotation marks: Periods and commas go inside quote marks.
    • Parentheses: Limit the use of parentheses by using dashes or rewriting the text to exclude them. For punctuation with a period, a period should be placed inside a parentheses that has an independent sentence; if the clause in the parenthesis is not an independent sentence, the period goes outside.

To view the complete AP Stylebook, visit apstylebook.com. To learn more, read AP Style: Why We Use It or contact University Public Relations at unews@umn.edu. Please note that University Marketing and Brand follows the Chicago Manual of Style.