The writing style of the Associated Press has been the ideal and preferred form of writing for journalists and public relations practitioners since the early 1950s. It promotes clarity and helps mitigate common errors as they relate to grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
AP style was originally introduced as a means of preventing writers from having to correct costly errors in print media where the amount of workspace was limited. But today, the AP style serves as a tool shaping both consistency and proper language usage.
Writing professionals utilizing the AP style understand changes to some rules are made annually, and as a result staying up to date on the most recent changes is important. Today we will cover three new rules to follow in 2022.
REFRAIN FROM USING ANTI-VAXXER
Simply put, the Associated Press Stylebook has made it clear, as with many of their entries, that writers are to refrain from using labels that could be misinterpreted. Rather than using the term anti-vaxxer, writers should use descriptive words, making it clear there are people who would rather not vaccinate themselves. For example, “Those who are unsure about the COVID-19 immunization” is a much more appropriate description than anti-vaxxer. There are exceptions, however. If it is part of a direct quotation, then use it. In this case, the term will also need to be hyphenated.
For some additional context, the AP style neither endorses nor opposes vaccinations. This rule simply stops descriptions from becoming oversimplified.
ELECTRIC AND HYBRID VEHICLES
The update on electric vehicles defines three types: electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. An electric vehicle is one that is powered by a battery connected to an electric motor. Sometimes these are called battery-electric vehicles. EV is permissible only on a second reference when talking about vehicles powered by electricity alone. Hybrids can also run on electricity but have an internal combustion engine, allowing them to employ their gas and electric motors interchangeably. Plug-in hybrids are different in the sense they can be charged via a power outlet. They primarily operate with an electric motor, switching to gasoline only when the battery level falls low. It is important to note plug-in needs to be hyphenated also. One should never use HEV or PHEV on the second reference.
HIGH AND LOW FUNCTIONING
High functioning and low functioning are vague terms commonly used to describe the status of a person’s mental or physical capacity. This, however, can be problematic. These terms could lead to oversimplifications and/or assumptions. Avoid using them unless needed in a direct quotation. A proper alternative would be to specify a disability. For example, “According to court records, he was given a diagnosis of dyslexia.” Only when relevant to the story, describe people’s ability levels. Never rely on speculations of a person’s condition and identify on-the-record sources. Also, avoid words that imply feeling pity, such as “suffers” or “victim.”
The “nones” (not to be confused with nuns in Catholicism) is a term used to describe people whose religious identity is atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” Before using the word, writers should clearly define it first and put it in quotation marks. It needs no quotation marks after the first mention.
AP style can be difficult to understand and follow at times, which is why it is important to stay updated on the latest writing trends every year. As with most things in life and in the professional world, practice makes perfect.
For more information on the latest AP style rules, follow the Associated Press Stylebook on Facebook at www.facebook.com/apstylebook.
By Douglas Chavez