7 commonly violated AP style rules

From the clear-cut to the nuanced, the guidelines in the Associated Press Stylebook provide hundreds of guidelines to professional writers. These crop up a lot. Post them, and pass them around.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

There are many rules that writers must understand and practice to perfect their prose.

For news writers and public relations professionals, mastering every entry in the nearly 500-page Associated Press Stylebook — the arbiter of journalistic style — isn’t something achieved overnight. It takes multiple red-ink markings — and perhaps lots of nagging from editors, even at The New York Times — for rules to become common knowledge.

Here are seven hard-to-remember AP style rules that send writers to their guides for a quick refresher:

1. Affect vs. effect: As a verb, affect means to influence: The decision will affect my finances. Affect is rarely used a noun. As a verb, effect means to cause: She will effect change immediately. As a noun, effect means result: The effect of the accident was damaging.

2. On vs. about: As one of my editors said, on refers to spatial objects: He sat on the chair. Use about in nonspatial references: The professor will host a class about history.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.