Word nerds might unite or divide around this topic, but the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook is always good for a hearty conversation. The Baltimore Sun brought this topic to us in their article, “A challenge to the AP Stylebook editors.

Whether it is the serial comma issue or the apostrophe debate, writers and editors are rarely on the same page. The tools of debate are the Chicago Handbook of Style and the AP Stylebook. The Chicago Handbook of Style is much more oriented to the technical aspects of writing and publishing in a correct fashion. In book and article writing, the creator has weeks, months or years to get every detail correct and the Chicago Manual reflects that high level of craftsmanship.

The AP Stylebook is much more geared toward ensuring that the factual information regarding such things as the correct usage of titles of nobility or the correct meaning of military acronyms are observed, than laying out rules for the actual writing of a news article. In news media, however, deadlines and the need to publish immediately demand a much more rough and ready guide that sets general rules and relies on the individual writer’s talent and the editor to make sure the details come out right. Thus the trust in the AP Stylebook.

These two publications are institutions in the publishing world. There are constant updates and over the years they have actually come closer together on the grammar/punctuation meter. The twain shall likely never meet, but they wave at one another occasionally.

Melody K. Smith

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