Let us begin by saying this is NOT going to happen overnight. Some of the greatest Associated Press (AP) Style gurus still look up some style rules now and then. Also, you likely won’t wake up one day gifted with the natural ability to know the ins and outs of the AP Stylebook. When trying to grasp this learned skill, it’s going to take time, practice and some extra effort. Here are our favorite ways to try to strongly grasp AP Style.
- Quizzes: Continuing to challenge yourself will be a tremendous help. There are tons of free online quizzes that will test your AP Style knowledge and help keep the info fresh in your mind. The quizzes also give you the opportunity to practice using specific categories such as capitalization, punctuation, titles and more. This allows you to target the categories you need a little extra help learning.
- Practice: You’ve heard it before, but I’m going to say it again — practice makes perfect. The more you write using AP Style, the quicker you will learn it. When team members return edited work, make note of recurring edits. Seeing their corrections and having another set of eyes on your work can help pinpoint serial mistakes. But the only way to get better is to, you guessed it, practice. Ask for writing projects. Start a blog. Keep AP Style in mind regardless if you are writing for personal or professional reasons.
- Subscribe: This piece of advice may seem like common sense, but we highly recommend buying or getting an online subscription to the AP Stylebook. Not only does the online AP Stylebook update when a new edition is issued, but it also is convenient with an organized, easily accessible layout. Another option is to download AP StyleGuard, which is accessible on Microsoft Word and Outlook. This helpful program is like spell check, but is on the lookout for AP Style errors.
- Follow: And finally, following AP Stylebook on Twitter also is a great way to stay in the AP Style loop. In addition to all updates and changes being Tweeted, you can engage in #APStyleChat ‘s about AP Style rules, industry news and more trending topics.
Remember, you’re not going to take some quizzes and instantly have the entire AP Stylebook memorized. Even professionals who have been using it for many years still occasionally search for the correct usage. Don’t get discouraged and keep on working toward excellence. As the days go by, you will see improvements in your work and notice yourself growing as a writer and AP Style guru.