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Edit for style


Students will search common AP style usage examples in everyday media sources and discuss how they are used appropriately … or not! (Students can work alone or in teams. Teams provide an opportunity for collaboration, creativity and leadership that may be best suited to the task.) The teacher will direct students to the AP Stylebook – either online or print version. Students will then use news sources to verify their knowledge. The final piece will be a reflection/evaluation about how well the pros (and others) utilize AP style. (A variation/addition might be to create a style guide for the students’ publication that contains the most commonly used topics.)


  • Students will utilize the AP Stylebook effectively
  • Students will collaborate with peers to determine basics of AP style and its usage
  • Students will identify AP style use in a variety of media
  • Students will evaluate AP style use in a variety of media
  • Students will demonstrate master of AP style in their own work
  • Students will reflect on relevance of AP style in their own work and beyond

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.


50-minute classes (as many as needed depending on how proficient students are in AP style, up to two weeks)


Class set: Common AP style rules

AP Stylebook set or online subscription

Class set: AP style search chart

Newspapers, yearbooks, magazines, and/or Internet access

Class set: Style guide – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 1 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 2 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 3 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 4 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 5 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 6 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 7 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 8 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 9 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 10 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 11 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 12 – days, months, numbers

Stylebook quiz and key 13 – capitalization, titles & treatments

Stylebook quiz and key 14 – capitalization, titles & treatments

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background and instructions— 10 minutes

Explain to students that it’s often the “little” errors that frustrate editors the most. They are tedious to correct and can end up taking a serious toll on the time allowed for producing publications. This lesson calls on students to learn the basic rules of AP style and then identify and explain how they are used in the media. Students need to know the rules before they can accurately utilize them; exposure is key to usage.

First, students will receive a list of key/common AP style rules (NOTE: this list can/should be adapted to the needs of each publication. However, this list represents some of the more common topics); they then will have to look up their definitions in the guide. A variation might be to have the staff add additional topics for bonus points and/or relevance to their particular publication. See attached list of topics and evaluation chart.

Once students are clear on the definitions for their search list, they will find examples from current media of each. Samples can be of appropriate use OR inappropriate use, but each must be accompanied by an explanation of HOW it is used correctly/incorrectly. They can copy and paste (and cite) examples from multiple sources or they can print one or two that contain multiple examples, in essence, creating a portfolio of AP style examples.

(Some teachers may want to add a quiz or assessment as a way to check understanding, but, evidence of mastery should surface in their work.)

The final step will be to discuss the experience as a group: What did they learn in terms of specific AP style topics? How well does the media use AP style? How often is it used? How will they apply this knowledge to their own work? How will they help others utilize AP style correctly?

2. Begin activity — 30 minutes

Distribute the list of most-often used style rules for students to keep as reference. Also distribute AP style chart and copies of the stylebook. Then, break students into groups to begin work.

Groups define topics in chart and find examples. They can go the cut/paste/highlight route or whatever works best for the environment or resources available. Depending on time, the searching can also be assigned as homework.

Students evaluate how the examples work in context (on chart or whatever tool works best for the staff/environment).

*Depending on how proficient your students are and how much practice they need, expand this activity into a second, third, or even fourth class period.

3. Class discussion — 10 minutes

Students reflect via discussion on the value of AP style and how they will integrate it into their publication.

Optional: Teacher quizzes students over material. To reinforce the rules learned through the style usage examples, students can take quizzes over the next several class periods.

Credits: Kristi Yellico Rathbun, Jessica Young