Why are journalism and public relation students expected to learn the Associated Press style? Think about it. Have you heard an actual reason why, besides it’s just what you do in the field you are studying for? The Purdue Online Writing Lab says, “A basic knowledge of AP style is considered essential to those who want to work in print journalism.” But why?
At its core, AP style brings unity to systems that are dependent on multiple people, according to the Purdue OWL. A newspaper or mass media outlet is only successful as a business by having repeat customers. To help keep those repeat customers, having a familiar style of writing, coming from many different writers and editors, is very important. That way a reader will not feel alienated by different writing styles. The Purdue OWL explains that some of the direct issues AP style helps address are:
If that doesn’t convince you, you may be too rebellious for the AP style. But consider this: according to the Public Relations Society of America, an online poll by the Dallas chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (Dallas/IABC) found that 88 percent of responding communicators said AP style is important, very important or extremely important. Flip that around and only 4.7 percent of respondents said AP style is not important.
Even Roy G. Miller, 25-year communications veteran, agrees. “How can corporate communicators, agencies and those working in multiple locations effectively communicate with clarity and consistency?” he said. “There’s got to be writing standards. AP style is the most prevalent, accepted standard available.” Clearly the world of communications believes that AP Style is important. You will need to accept this as fact and do your best to learn it well.
AP Style handbooks can be purchased in hard copy form, but they are also available online, for mobile devices and as computer applications. Be sure to view the video below for more in-depth information on the various AP Style products and features that are available.