Tuesday, September 04, 2007

AP Style.

I bought the most recent edition of "AP Stylebook" over the weekend in an effort to pass my copyediting test today with flying colors.
While I've never heard of someone who didn't get frustrated with the seemingly arbitrary "rules" of the Associated Press Style, I've been reading about a lot of general rules, subrules and sub-subrules (notice the hyphenated repetition of prefix and lack of comma before the conjunction), and I've been shaking my head, scoffing and chuckling.

Firstly, allow me to voice my disgust at the AP's desire to stifle the use of parentheses:

parentheses () In general, use parentheses around logos ... but otherwise be sparing with them. ...
... (Note that this is indeed the AP Style correct way of omitting a paragraph in condensed texts -- a period at the end of the complete sentence, followed by a space, followed by an ellipsis, followed by a paragraph jump, followed by another ellipsis. Note also that the previous sentence would be frowned upon by the Associated Press.) The temptation to use parentheses is a clue that a sentence is becoming contorted.

"Becoming contorted?" I ask. Nay. Parentheses are great. AP can jog on for that one. Pffhhbbt.


names ... In stories involving youngsters, generally refer to them by first name on second reference if they are 15 or younger and by their surname at 18 and older.
However, use news judgment and refer to children under 15 by their last name if the story is a serious one involving, for example, a major crime. With 16- or 17-year-olds, use the surname unless it's a light-hearted story.

That entry was particularly amusing to me. Notice the phrase "use news judgment." There are many times throughout the book where it says to do something a very particular way "unless you need to do it another way to clarify text."

Well, AP, clarify this:

I already found an inconsistency in your book, which is hailed as "The Bible of the Newspaper Industry." Under telephone numbers, you say, "Use figures. The form: 212-621-1500."

But under numerals, you say (350) 262-4600, which, with parentheses, was the pre-2006 way of representing phone numbers.


1 comment:

  1. I much prefer the British equivalent of whatever this is. Also, isn't the AP style guide constructed around a 7th-grade reading level?

    I was taught to use commas, parentheses(,) and more commas. I will use them as I see fit.