The AP Stylebook: Grammar Rules You Need To Know

Blog Categories:  Content Marketing  

Without a content style guide, it’s incredibly challenging to maintain uniformity — especially when working with clients in diverse industries. That’s why, at Straight North, we defer to The Associated Press Stylebook for grammar rules and spelling clarifications. This helps our team be as consistent and efficient as possible when writing/editing content. Even in regard to the LGI/Straight North blogs, we’ve realized the importance of creating (still in the early phases) a separate style guide with terminology related to SEO.

To streamline content and help eliminate confusion when prospects visit your website, consider following a style guide for your company’s content as well.

Here are some important basics to note, according to The AP Stylebook:


The following is a list of several words that are spelled with many variations. Here is when a style guide really comes in handy!

  • co-worker — written with a hyphen
  • email — written without a hyphen
  • e-book/e-commerce/e-business — written with hyphens, lowercase
  • home page — two words
  • Internet — always use a capital “I”
  • OK — not ok or okay
  • smartphone and cellphone — both are one word
  • toward — not towards
  • voicemail — one word, not two
  • Web/website — Web, when referring to the World Wide Web, is always uppercase; website is lowercase
  • Wi-Fi

Comma Use in a Series

  • Use a comma to separate items in a simple series, but exclude a comma before a final conjunction such as with “and” or “or.”
    • Example: She bought earrings, dresses and shoes.
  • When an element in a series has a conjunction, use a comma for distinction.
    • Example: She bought earrings, bracelets, and dresses and shoes.
  • When a series of phrases is more in depth, use commas between each phrase and before the final conjunction.
    • Example: After booking her flight she needed to complete the following: walk the dog before making breakfast and feeding the kids, go to the store to buy groceries for dinner, and pack all of her items before picking up the kids from school.


  • Spell out numbers one through nine; use numerals for 10 and above. (Keep in mind, these are only the basics; there are many exceptions to this rule. Read here for more information).
    • Example: After waiting 20 days for her present to arrive, she couldn’t stand to wait one more day.
  • Spell out numerals at the beginning of a sentence.
    • Example: Eighteen percent preferred public transportation instead of driving.


  • Punctuation is (almost always) inside quotation marks:
    • Example: Ken said, “The meeting shouldn’t last long.”

However, if the punctuation mark is unrelated to the quoted content, this goes outside the quotes:

    Example: Did he really say, “The meeting shouldn’t last long”?

While these grammar rules only scratch the surface, they’re a great place to start when writing/editing Web copy that is clean, professional and consistent — hopefully helping you impress and attract more leads.

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