Since 1953, journalists, writers and corporate communicators worldwide have relied upon the rules and guidelines of Associated Press (AP) style to standardize published copy. For nearly 70 years, stylistic nuances about capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals have remained relatively steadfast.
From geopolitics to sports to pop culture, the world at large is immeasurably different from 1953, i.e., times change. And as they do, so do accepted business and political vernacular, terminology, usage and whatever else greater society deems culturally appropriate. I’ve been a staunch defender of AP style for decades. Having said that, I’m absolutely mystified by some AP entries. For instance:
- Co-worker is hyphenated, yet coworking is not.
- “Double e” words such as reelect are no longer hyphenated.
- When it comes to people (i.e., not a color palette), Black is capitalized, whereas white is not.
- They can be used as a singular pronoun.
So just a day shy of my birthday, I enthusiastically registered for Mignon Fogarty’s webinar: Grammar Girl’s Guide to Advanced AP Style. A former journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Fogarty is highly regarded among professional communicators for her mastery of the writing craft. She is a published author and podcast host whose tips are commonly discussed within my field by her nom de guerre, “Grammar Girl.”
Acutely aware of Grammar Girl’s reputation among my copyediting peers, I had high hopes that this webinar would help me. In addition, promotional material (i.e., the webinar’s landing page) for the event touted I’d learn the following:
- How to use hyphens and dashes properly
- How to handle terms related to race and gender
- How to write about crime
- How to write about homelessness and climate change
- How to write dates
- What to do when quotations don’t match AP style
Fogarty opened by stating it’s important to differentiate your messaging — for the right reasons. Using a standardized style is critical for professional communicators of any sized business; if your writing is poor, you’ll quickly stand out.