The AP Stylebook: Grammar Rules You Need To Know — Part 2

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If you read my previous post, I detailed important Associated Press Stylebook rules that could be helpful for your business writing, in order to improve clarity and quality. Here are a few more important basics to add to that list:


As I mentioned in Part 1, spell out numbers one through nine and use numerals for 10 and above. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Here are a few to note:

  • Use figures with ages — for people, animals or objects.
  • Examples:

    • The boy is 8 years old.
    • The 2-month-old puppy fell asleep.
    • The house was 27 years old.
  • Use figures for measurements/dimensions, but spell out measurement terms. (Instead of ft. or in., use feet and inches.)
  • Examples:

    • 2 inches, 36 feet, 12 yards, etc.
    • The recipe required a 12-inch-by-12-inch pan.


  • cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation — note that all forms use only one “l” — except for cancellation
  • complementary — blends well together/harmonious
    • The kitchen’s design had complementary paint colors and lighting.
  • complimentary — referring to something that is free
    • Attend our complimentary breakfast.
  • discreet/discretediscreet means to be cautious, while discrete refers to something being separate
  • friend, follow, like — no need to use quotation marks when referring to these common social media terms
  • Google Plus — not Google+ or G-Plus
  • homeowner — one word
  • livable — not liveable
  • premier/premiere — use premier when referring to excellence or high quality; use premiere (with an “e”) to refer to a first showing/opening of a performance
  • selfie — no need for quotation marks
  • retweet — one word; do not hyphenate
  • United StatesU.S. (with periods) can be used in body copy, but write US (without periods) in headlines. Also, USA is written without periods in all cases.
  • well-being — always hyphenate


State names should be spelled out in the body of the text. (Note that datelines use abbreviations, but there are also exceptions to this rule.)

Example: Straight North is headquartered in Downers Grove, Illinois.


  • a.m. and p.m. (lowercase with periods); not am and pm
  • Example: The meeting started at 3:15 p.m.

  • For time spans, a dash is preferred.
  • Example: 9-10 a.m.

  • Avoid these redundancies: “The store opens at 12 noon and closes at 12 midnight.” Instead, you should write: “The store opens at noon and closes at midnight.”


  • Titles for books, TV shows, songs, works of art, etc., should use quotation marks. However, magazines and newspapers do not need quotation marks.
  • Examples:

    • The class finished reading “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
    • The kids watched the rest of “Frozen.”
    • He recently had an article published in Forbes.

Who vs. That

  • Use who when referring to a person, that when referring to an object.
  • Examples:

    • Ed is someone who likes to eat.
    • There are many businesses that reside in Chicago.

Maybe you’ll come across one of these examples sooner rather than later. Remember that creating consistent content is an essential ingredient in establishing company credibility, which could be a deciding factor between a prospect becoming a lead or not.

Did any of these AP Stylebook rules surprise you? What grammar questions do you have? Feel free to list them below!

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