Hate to get your hopes up, but AP Style is nothing like House of Gaga or anything fashion-related. It’s a set of guidelines from the Associated Press and serves as industry standard for the conventions we use in journalistic writing.
Is that capitalized? Do I abbreviate or spell it out? When do I use a numeral? Your AP Stylebook has all the answers. You can follow their tweets or ask your own question with the hashtag #apstyle. But for now, here’s our first few rules.
Yes, you need to know this stuff, and yes, you should be following this style in your writing.
1. Numbers: Wow, lots of exceptions here. In general, spell out numbers in a sentence from zero through nine and then use numerals for 10 and higher. (At the beginning of the sentence, however, spell out any number.) We’ll talk about scores, ages and some other expections in our next installment.
2. For time, use only the numeral if the time is on the hour exactly. For example, “the game starts at 7″ (rather than “the game starts at 7:00″). When time is not on the hour, use numerals and a colon the way time appears on a digital clock (“the game starts at 7:05″).
3. Use a.m. and p.m. to clarify time of day. Only use if necessary. Use “noon” or “midnight” to correspond with the 12 hour instead of a.m. or p.m. since so many readers misunderstand these.
4. For dates, abbreviate months with more than five letters by using a capital letter and period (Sept., Jan., Dec.) only when an exact date follows (“Dec. 10″ but December in general). Do not abbreviate months with five letters or fewer (“her birthday is April 21). Do not include a “th” or “rd” or any other ending to the date — use the month and number only.
5. For money, consider the rules for time and you’ll start to see a pattern with AP Style. Less is more! For an even dollar amount, use the dollar sign and numeral but no decimal or 00 after. For example, “tickets cost $8″ (rather than “tickets cost $8.00).