Red on Marketing Blog

Stop the quibbles: hew to AP style

There is a technical standard for press releases: AP style.

Newsrooms expect AP style and is the standard to which most organizations' press releases should conform.

AP says:

- Capitalize formal titles when they are used in front of a name ("President Jim Fizzbo") but not if they are set off by commas ("the division's vice president, Jim Fizzbo, was promoted"), and not if the name isn't used at all ("the president was on vacation").

- Use several letters in upper and lower case (Calif.) to identify a state, instead of two-letter post office style (CA)

As one of my team members points out, though, really though the most important thing with style is to be clear and consistent.(1)

If your organization feels strongly that it wants all the titles capitalized in a press release, it would not really hurt anything - and same for the style you prefer on state abbreviations.

To ensure consistency, if you do diverge from AP you probably do need to develop your own style sheet for press releases so that your press release writing team - whether in house or on contract - can hit the target when drafting these docs and prevent head-butting over which title words to capitalize.

Do you diverge from AP for some reason? I'd love to hear examples of making exceptions to following AP style to achieve some improved result.


(1) Thank you to Robert Celaschi for succinctly articulating what AP says about title caps.

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