As PR professionals, it is our job to be the so-called “grammar police” and we spend a lot of time reviewing written drafts, ensuring we have corrected and/or avoided any errors. The industry standard for grammar is set forth by the AP Stylebook, which is the writing style guide used by journalists. Because we are frequently drafting media materials to send to journalists and reporters, it is important we adhere to their style. Each year the AP Stylebook is updated to reflect changes in writing style and new guidelines; however, it is often some of the older mistakes we most frequently find ourselves correcting during the editing process. Here is a short list from the C. Pharr team of common AP Style mistakes.
· Titles: A formal title is only capitalized when it precedes an individual’s name. It is lower case if it follows the name. Ex: Vice President of Development John Smith; John Smith is the vice president of development.
· More vs. over: “More” should be used when referring to numbers, while “over” is generally used when referring to spatial elements. Ex: Our company has more than 500 employees; We went over the bridge.
· It vs. they: When the noun or subject is a firm or a company, “it” should not be replaced with the pronoun “they.” Ex: In the store’s first year, it had more than $1 million in sales. (*bonus – notice our use of “more” vs. “over.”)
· Farther vs. further: “Farther” refers to physical distance, while “further” refers to an extension of time or degree. Ex: I ran farther than you; The detectives will further investigate the case.
· Its vs. it’s: “It’s” is a contraction for “it is,” and should not be used as a possessive. Ex: The class will take its first field trip to the zoo; It’s going to be a beautiful day.
· Seasons: Seasons are never capitalized. Ex: The acquisition is expected to be completed this summer.
· Months: Months are only abbreviated when used with a specific date. They are spelled out when used only with a year. Ex: The event took place on Sept. 15, 2012 vs. Construction managers expect the project to break ground in September 2012.
· Toward: Toward never ends in “s.” The same rule applies for forward, backward, upward, downward, etc. Ex: We will head toward the door in five minutes.
This post was contributed by Shelby Menczer