The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook is the go-to guide for journalists and public relations professionals seeking to ensure their writing is consistent, accurate, and adheres to journalistic standards. For more than 70 years, AP style has set the standard for media writing by offering spelling, punctuation, usage, and tone guidelines. It also assists writers and editors of all disciplines in understanding complex and evolving language issues.
The new edition of the AP Stylebook takes significant steps towards more inclusive and respectful language, with more than 300 new or revised entries and a new chapter on inclusive storytelling. Let’s take a look at a few of those changes:
Inclusive Storytelling Chapter
The inclusive storytelling chapter recognizes traditional narratives often leave out marginalized communities and reinforces the importance of accurate and fair representation in all forms of media. This chapter provides guidance on how to achieve these goals by recognizing and overcoming unconscious biases, using thoughtful and precise language – including necessary context and background – avoiding tokenism, and making content accessible. Additionally, the chapter offers writers the necessary tools for representing individuals fairly and accurately, including issues related to gender, sex, sexual orientation, and disabilities.
AP Stylebook now uses they/them to accurately describe and represent people who use these pronouns. Journalists can demonstrate respect for individuals while promoting a greater understanding and acceptance of diverse gender identities by using appropriate pronouns.
When writing about disabilities, it is advised to avoid any type of writing that implies ableism. Writers should also only mention a person’s disability only when it is relevant to the story. In addition, some people view their disability as a significant part of their identity and prefer identity-first language, such as “autistic student” or “blind woman.” Others prefer person-first language and may use phrases like “person with autism” or “a woman who is blind.” It is always best to ask what language people with disabilities prefer, but when that information is unattainable, using a combination of person-first and identity-first language is recommended. Also, avoid language that implies pity or negative attitudes, such as “battling cancer” or “overcoming their disability.” Instead, use neutral and accurate language such as “has cancer” or “being treated for ADHD.”
The Use of the Term “Female”
While the word “female” is commonly used, it is important to note the context when using the term and to use other descriptors when appropriate. Currently, it is recognized by many that “female” may be viewed as emphasizing biology and reproductive capacity over gender identity, which is not always accurate to some audiences.
The AP Stylebook is a tool that is constantly evolving, providing journalists with guidelines on how to report accurately and inclusively. This latest edition of the AP Stylebook reflects the evolving nature of society and the journalistic landscape, including revised guidance on language related to inclusivity. By staying up to date on these changes, journalists can ensure their reporting is inclusive, accurate, and respectful.
To learn more about these updates, visit the AP Stylebook Facebook page.
By Marie Hearvy