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The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, usually called the AP Stylebook, is an English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for or connected with the Associated Press over the last century 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.

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
AP stylebook cover.jpg
AP Stylebook, 2004 edition
AuthorNorm Goldstein (editor 1979–2007);
AP Editors (since 2008)
Original titleThe Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
CountryUnited States
LanguageAmerican English
SeriesUpdated annually
SubjectStyle guide
GenreJournalism reference
PublisherBasic Books
Publication date
July 11, 2017
Pages624 (2017 ed., trade paperback),
619 (2017 ed., spiral-bound)
ISBN978-0-465-06294-2 (2015 trade paperback),
978-0-917-36061-9 (2015 spiral-bound)

The first publicly available edition of the book was published in 1953 and was updated biennially over the next 20 years. The first Basic Books edition was published in August 1977.[1][2] Today, the AP Stylebook is updated annually (usually in June). Modern editions are released in several formats, including trade paperback, flat-lying spiral-bound, and an online subscription.

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 goaltending.

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.


For many years the AP Stylebook was titled The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.[3] In 2000,[4][5] the guide was renamed The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.[6] Some editions, such as the 2004 copy, used the shorter title The Associated Press Stylebook on their covers.


The Associated Press organization was first created in 1846. Throughout much of its history, the AP maintained a style book for member reporters. 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 style book for the general public in 1953. The first publication focused on "where the wire set a specific style".[7] 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.[7] In 1977, prompted by AP Executive News Editor Louis Boccardi's request for "more of a reference work", the organization started expanding the book.[7] That year's book was produced jointly with competitor United Press International.[8] In 1989, Norm Goldstein became the AP Stylebook editor, a job he held until the 2007 edition.[7] 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 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.

AP Stylebook editors Paula Froke, Sally Jacobsen and David Minthorn now lead the Stylebook.[9] In 2009 the Stylebook was released as an iPhone app which included regular updates and customized features. The most recent[when?] print edition is the 2017 AP Stylebook, available spiral-bound directly from AP, and as a perfect-bound paperback sold by Basic Books.

While nearly two million copies of the AP Stylebook have been distributed since 1977,[10] today the AP Stylebook is developing an online presence with profiles on social media platforms like Twitter (@APStylebook) [11] and Facebook,[12] and is available through an online subscription model as well as an iOS mobile app.

Revision processEdit

The stylebook is updated annually by Associated Press editors, usually in June, and at this time edits and new entries may be added. In 2008, 200 new entries were added, including words and phrases like "podcast", "text messaging", "social networking" and "high-definition". The 2009 edition added the entries "Twitter" and "texting". This is done to keep the stylebook up to date with technological and cultural changes.


  1. ^ Indicia, Associated Press Stylebook 2009, ISBN 978-0-917360-53-4, "First edition, August 1977; 44th Edition, 2009." This makes the 2015 edition the 50th. and other sellers are not reliable sources for edition and release details, and frequently give conflicting edition information, or are missing releases (e.g. does not know the 2014 edition existed). Recent editions no longer provide an edition number, requiring that it be calculated from an edition that did.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Library of Congress Catalog Record for The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  6. ^ Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law
  7. ^ a b c d "School of Journalism and Mass Communications". University of South Carolina. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  8. ^ United Press International. "Introduction to the UPI Stylebook". UPIU. a social media platform for journalism students and "aspiring journalists".
  9. ^ "Guard Changes on 'AP Stylebook' Team of Editors". Archived from the original on 2016-09-24. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  10. ^ "pr_041305a.html". Associated Press. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  11. ^ "AP Stylebook (APStylebook) on Twitter". Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  12. ^ "AP Stylebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-06-25.

External linksEdit