AP Stylebook

AP Stylebook, also known by its full name The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, is an English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for or connected with the Associated Press to standardize mass communications. Although it is sold as a guide for reporters, it has become the leading reference for most forms of public-facing corporate communication over the last half-century. The Stylebook offers a basic reference to grammar, punctuation and principles of reporting, including many definitions and rules for usage as well as styles for capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals.

AP Stylebook
AP Stylebook, 2004 edition
  • AP Editors (1909-1952)
  • G. P. Winkler (1953–1970)
  • Howard Angione (1977)
  • Angione & E.A. Powell (1980)
  • An., Pow. & C.W. French (1984)
  • French (1986)
  • French & Norm Goldstein (1988)
  • Goldstein (1992-2007)
  • AP Editors (since 2008)
Original titleThe Associate Press Rules Regulations and General Orders
CountryUnited States
SeriesUpdated annually
SubjectStyle guide
GenreJournalism reference
PublisherLorenz Press
Publication date
1909 (1st internal ed.)
1953 (1st public ed.)
1977 (1st public modern ed.)
2019 (latest public modern ed.)
Pages656 (PB)
639 (SB)
ISBN978-1-541699-89-2 (PB)
978-0-917360-68-8 (SB)

The first publicly available edition of the book was published in 1953. The first modern edition was published in August 1977 by Lorenz Press. Afterwards, various paperback editions were published by different publishers including, among others, Turtleback Books, Penguin's Laurel Press, Pearson's Addison-Wesley, and Hachette's Perseus Books and Basic Books. Since 1985 the AP Stylebook has been updated annually, usually in May. Modern editions are released in several formats, including printed paperback and flat-lying spiral-bound editions, as well as electronic e-book edition and an online subscription version. Additionally, today the AP Stylebook also provides English grammar recommendation through its presence on social media, including Twitter,[2] Facebook,[3] and Pinterest.[4]

From 1977 to 2005 more than two million copies of the AP Stylebook have been sold worldwide, with that number climbing to 2.5 million by 2011.[5][6] Writers in broadcasting, magazine publishing, marketing departments and public relations firms traditionally adopt and apply AP grammar and punctuation styles.


The stylebook is organized into sections:

Business Guidelines

A reference section for reporters covering business and financial news including general knowledge of accounting, bankruptcy, mergers and international bureaus. For instance, it includes explanations of five different chapters of bankruptcy.

Sports Guidelines and Style

Includes terminology, statistics, organization rules and guidelines commonly referenced by sports reporters, such as the correct way to spell and use basketball terminology like half-court pass, field goal and goal-tending.

Guide to Punctuation

A specific guide on how to use punctuation in journalistic materials. This section includes rules regarding hyphens, commas, parentheses and quotations.

Briefing on Media Law

An overview of legal issues and ethical expectations for those working in journalism, including the difference between slander and libel. Slander is spoken; libel is written.

Photo Captions

The simple formula of what to include when writing a photo caption, usually called a cutline in newspapers.

Editing Marks

A key with editing symbols to assist the journalist with the proofreading process.


This provides second reference materials for information not included in the book. For example, it says to use Webster's New World College Dictionary, s first reference after the AP Stylebook for spelling, style, usage and foreign geographic names.


From 1909, when the first stylebook-like guide was released internally under the title: "The Associate Press Rules Regulations and General Orders", and until 1953 the stylebook was published under numerous different titles including, among others, Instructions for Correspondents of the Associate Press, The Associate Press. Regulations Traffic Department, A Guide for Filing Editors. The Associated Press, A Guide for Foreign Correspondents. The Associated Press, A Guide for Writers. The Associated Press, The AP Copy Book, and AP Writing Handbook.

The first publicly available edition of AP Stylebook was published in 1953 under the title "The Associated Press Style Book" (with a space between "Style" and "Book"). Since 1953 the stylebook has been published under different titles, including among others, Writing for The AP, AP Stylebook, and The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.[7]

In 2000, the guide was renamed The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law and the paperback edition had been published under this title since then.[8][9] Some editions, such as the spiral-bound and e-book editions, use the shorter title The Associated Press Stylebook on their covers.


The Associated Press organization was first created in 1846. The first internal AP "guide", which, however, did not deal with English words and grammar and was more of a brochure detailing on 24 pages various titles and corporate structures of the Associated Press organization, was published in 1900 under a title "The Associated Press". The first real stylebook-like guide dealing at least to a significant extent with English words and grammar was released in 1909, under the title: "The Associate Press Rules Regulations and General Orders".[lower-alpha 1][10][11][12]

By the early 1950s the publication was formalized into the AP Stylebook and became the leading professional English grammar reference by most member and non-member news bureaus throughout the world. Due to growing demand by non-member journalists and writers working in public-facing corporate communications, the AP published their first official "stylebook" for the general public in 1953 under the title Associated Press Style Book; the first publication focused on "where the wire set a specific style".[13][14][15][16] For nearly a quarter century it assumed its reader had a "solid grounding in language and a good reference library" and thus omitted any guidelines in those broader areas.[16] In 1977, prompted by AP Executive News Editor Lou Boccardi's request for "more of a reference work", the organization started expanding the book and in 1977 produced a book that was different in a few fundamental regards.[16] Firstly, The structure was changed and entries were organized in alphabetical order so that users could find what they need in a timely manner.[17] Secondly, in 1977 the book was published for the first time by a 3rd party publisher - Lorenz Press.[18] Thirdly, in 1977, UPI and AP cooperated to produce stylebooks for each organization that are based on revisions and guidelines jointly agreed on by editors of both UPI Stylebook (Bobby Ray Miller) and AP Stylebook (Howard Angione).[19][20] In 1982, Eileen Alt Powell, a co-editor of AP Stylebook 1980 edition, stated that:

Howard Angione ... at times thought the task he and UPI counterpart Bobby Ray Miller had undertaken resembled the quest of Don Quixote. It was "an impossible dream", Angione said, to find style rules that pleased everyone, especially since even grammarians couldn't agree among themselves.[20]

In 1989, Norm Goldstein became the AP Stylebook lead editor, a job he held until the 2007 edition.[16] After publishing the final edition under his editorship, Goldstein commented on the future of the AP Stylebook's section on name references:

I think the difference...now is that there is more information available on the Internet, and I'm not sure, and at least our executive editor is not sure, how much of a reference book we ought to be any more. I think some of our historical background material like on previous hurricanes and earthquakes, that kind of encyclopedic material that's so easily available on the Internet now, might be cut back.[16]

After Norm Goldstein stepped down as lead editor in 2007, in bibliographical records for all subsequent editions starting from 2008 lead editors' names are usually not explicitly called out and the author is simply refereed to as Associated Press or AP Editors. In 2009 and 2011 the Stylebook was released as an app called AP Stylebook Mobile edition for iOS and BlackBerry, respectively,[21][22][23] however it was later discontinued in 2015 in favor of users simply accessing AP Stylebook Online edition through their desktop or mobile browsers.[24][25] In March 2019 AP created an Archived AP Stylebooks section on its apstylebook.com website where anyone can access previous versions of the AP Stylebook starting from 1900 "brochure on AP corporate structure" and all the way to 1977 edition.[13]

The most recent print edition is the 2019 AP Stylebook, available spiral-bound directly from AP, and as a perfect-bound paperback sold by Basic Books. Creation of AP Stylebook has been helmed by lead editor Paula Froke since 2016.[26][27]


Edition number: English edition

The first publicly available English edition of the book was released in 1953.[13] However, all editions prior to 1977 are not included in the editions count and the first modern edition is considered to be the August 1977 edition released for the first time by Lorenz Press. The latest, 2019 version, is the 54th edition.

Edition number: Spanish edition

Due to the rising influence of the Spanish language worldwide, in November 2012 Associated Press added, in addition to English, its first ever Spanish edition of its Stylebook.[28][29] The Spanish edition is separate from English edition and has a different website, as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts.[30][31] Unlike the English edition, which currently has both online and print versions, the Spanish edition only has an online edition. The Spanish edition does not have an 'edition number' since it only exists as an online service.

Revision process

From 1980-1984 the English edition was updated biennially. Since 1985 the English edition of the stylebook has been updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in May, and at this time edits and new entries may be added. This is done to keep the stylebook up to date with technological and cultural changes.

In 2005, dozens of new or revised entries were added, including among others words and phrases for "Sept. 11", "e.g." and "i.e.", "FedEx" and "Midwest region".[6]

In 2008, more than 200 new or revised entries were added, including among others words and phrases for "iPhone", "anti-virus", "outsourcing", "podcast", "text messaging", "social networking", "high-definition" and "Wikipedia".[32]

In 2009, more than 60 new or revised entries were added, including among others words for "Twitter", "baba ghanoush" and "texting".[33]

In 2013, more than 90 new or revised entries were added, including among others words for "Benedictine", "Grand Marnier", "madeleine" and "upside-down cake", "chichi" and "froufrou".[14]

In 2019, more than 200 new or revised entries were added, including among others words for "budtender", "deepfake" and "cryptocurrency".[34]

The latest 2020 edition is expected in May 2020.[35]


  1. The title page has a full title Hand Book and Manual of Resolutions of the Board of Directors/General Orders and Instructions to Employees of The Associated Press


  1. There's also a Spanish online-only edition of AP Stylebook
  2. "AP Stylebook (APStylebook) on Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  3. "AP Stylebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  4. "AP Stylebook". Pinterest. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  5. The AP Stylebook as journalistic tool and sociolingustic resource // Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2014). Mediatization and Sociolinguistic Change. Munich: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. 564 p.: pp. 377-381
  6. "2005 Edition of AP Stylebook now available". AP.org. Associated Press. April 2005. Archived from the original on 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  7. Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
  8. Mark S. Luckie (4 February 2008). "= The history of the AP Stylebook". 10,000 Words. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  9. Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  10. AP Stylebooks through the ages. cjr.org, 2018
  11. Style guide superjam. aceseditors.org, 2018
  12. The Associate Press Rules Regulations and General Orders (1909). AP Editors, 1909
  13. You can now search really old AP Stylebooks and guides online. poynter.org, 2019
  14. AP Stylebook marks 60th anniversary with new print edition. ap.org, May 2013
  15. The history of AP ‘s guidance on language. cjr.org, 2018
  16. abridged version: "Norm Goldstein, keeper of AP style". Common Sense Journalism magazine. July 2007. Retrieved 2011-03-21.;
    full version: Norm Goldstein. Common Sense Journalism blog, 2007
  17. AP Style // Heath, Robert L. (2013). Encyclopedia of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications. 1152 p.: pp. 35-36. ISBN 9781452276229
  18. The Associated Press stylebook and libel manual (1977). openlibrary.org, 2019
  19. United Press International (2009). "Introduction to the UPI Stylebook". UPIU.
  20. Eileen Alt Powell - Media (is) (are) getting new 'bible': Stylebook publication under way (2 words) // Dorfman, Ron; Fuller Jr., Harry. Reporting/writing/editing: the Quill guides to journalism. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1982. 147 p.: pp. 131-138. ISBN 9780840328328
  21. Has your inkwell run dry? The AP Stylebook for BlackBerry gives you a refill. crackberry.com, 2011
  22. AP Stylebook iPhone App Launches Today, a Hybrid of Print & Online Versions. poynter.org/, 2009
  23. AP Stylebook Mobile. legacy.apstylebook.com, 2014
  24. 2015 AP Stylebook adds more than 300 new or revised entries. ap.org, May 2015
  25. APStylebook.com Help Center topics: Can I continue to use my old Stylebook Mobile app?. AP Stylebook Help, 2019
  26. "Guard Changes on 'AP Stylebook' Team of Editors". Archived from the original on 2016-09-24. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  27. Froke named APME executive director and AP Stylebook editor. ap.org, 2017
  28. AP launches its first Spanish-language stylebook. ap.org, Nov. 9, 2012
  29. La AP lanza su primer Manual de Estilo en español. ap.org, Nov. 9, 2012 (in Spanish)
  30. AP Stylebook creates a Spanish version of the Stylebook to address changes in language. poynter.org, 11/12/2012
  31. AP launches Spanish stylebook in Latin America. ap.org, 2012
  32. Print edition of 2008 AP Stylebook now on sale. ap.org, June 2008
  33. New edition of AP Stylebook adds entries and helpful features. ap.org, June 2009
  34. Health and science chapter debuts in 2019 AP Stylebook. ap.org, May 2019
  35. APStylebook.com Help Center topics: When is the AP Stylebook published?. AP Stylebook Help, 2019
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