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.