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AP style introduction


Associated Press is the style most journalists use. It is consistent for AP reporters around the world so if their stories run in newspapers anywhere in the U.S. or in international media, readers know what to expect.



  • Students will be able to explain why journalists use Associated Press style.
  • Students will recognize some of the differences between AP style and what they have been using before.
  • Students will identify and be able to correct  AP style errors in articles.
  • Students will use resources available – AP Stylebook or iPhone app – to check questionable style in articles and be able to find the way to correct them.


Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1.d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1.b Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., Associated Press Stylebook) as needed.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4.c Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., Associated Press Stylebook), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning, its part of speech, its etymology, or its standard usage.



50 minutes



Computers with internet access (or hard copies of student or commercial newspapers).

Associated Press Stylebooks, at least enough for each pair of students, as new a version as possible because some things change

Slideshow: AP style

Handout: Digitally distributed AP Scavenger Hunt (this doc includes links, so sending digitally to students is easier than hard copies)

See the lesson “Edit for Style,” also in the Editing section of curriculum content


Lesson step-by-step

1. Provide a bridge — 15 minutes

Show the slide presentation about AP style, emphasizing that students will use many styles appropriate to various venues in the future (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) AP is what journalists use. Emphasize the reason the Associated Press developed this style and how the stylebook is a fairly easy reference. Some forms — like numbers and addresses — students will use frequently, but others they’ll have to look up when they run across them — like the apostrophe in April Fools’ Day or the lack of an “S” in daylight saving time. The ones they use often they should learn, but they should also be familiar enough of the kinds of things AP style covers so they know when to question something and look it up during the editing process.

2. Student scavenger hunt — 25 minutes

Allow students to digitally access the scavenger hunt document. Students can work in pairs and have about 25 minutes to find the examples they are looking for.



Student responses to the AP scavenger hunt help determine if students understand the concept. Students can switch their answer sheets with another group and grade each others’ work to see if the examples they found truly are the correct examples for that AP style standard.

For work outside class, have students look for commonly used AP style examples. Together, they could add examples to a staff resources reference book of common AP style issues.



A pre-selected story would allow student pairs to find style errors more quickly. But DON’T use the New York Times. (It has a stylebook that isn’t consistent with AP style.)