Six common AP Style mistakes

August 15, 2022

The University’s Public Relations team uses AP Style in communications, while the Marketing team and others use Chicago Style. If you need a refresher on AP Style, check out our blog post “What is AP Style?”

One of the biggest differences between the two is that AP Style doesn’t use an Oxford comma. A blog post focused on that is coming soon.

PR Daily listed six other common AP Style mistakes, which include:

Capitalizing too much

  • Only capitalize a job title if it comes before a name: President Joan Gabel, but Joan Gabel is the president.
  • Also, while months and days of the week get capital letters, seasons do not (fall semester).

Overusing quotation marks

  • In general, use quotation marks to quote the exact same words someone else used. It’s common to see quotation marks put around more colloquial phrases, or around a non-standard usage like social media “likes,” but you don’t need these.

Underusing quotation marks

  • AP Style really doesn’t use italics so you should use quotation marks around titles of books, movies, or other compositions. Did you notice we used an Oxford comma in the previous sentence? That’s because we use Chicago Style for our blog.

Numbers

  • In the simplest terms, numbers from one to nine are spelled out using words while numbers 10 and over get numerals.

State abbreviations

  • Spell out the names of all 50 U.S. states in the body of stories, even when used in conjunction with a city or town name.
  • The only exceptions for using abbreviations are if you’re using a dateline, if you’re identifying a politician (R-Ind., for example) or in a list. In that case, remember that you should be using the AP state abbreviations, which are different from postal abbreviations.

If you have any questions about AP Style, reach out to the University Relations Public Relations team at unews@umn.edu.