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AP Stylebook’s most popular style tips

We don’t use the terms illegal immigrant, unauthorized immigrant, irregular migrant, alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented (except when quoting people or documents that use these terms). Many immigrants and migrants have some sort of documents, but not the necessary ones.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) June 28, 2022

Our inclusive storytelling chapter says: People of any race are capable of racist behavior and assumptions (both explicit and implicit). Both women and men are capable of sexist assumptions. Older adults may view younger people through a lens of ageism, as well as vice versa.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) June 16, 2022

New guidance: The terms marijuana and cannabis may be used interchangeably. The term pot is acceptable in headlines and generally in stories, though it may not be appropriate in some stories. Some prefer cannabis because of arguments the term marijuana has anti-Mexican roots.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) June 6, 2022

We don’t use the term manifesto in reference to a racist diatribe. It glorifies racist hatred. Other terms such as diatribe, screed or writings can work instead.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) May 16, 2022

We recommend limiting use of the term community in reference to groups of people. It implies homogeneity and the idea that all members of a particular “community” think and act alike. This is similar to the concept of avoiding any type of generalization or stereotype.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) May 23, 2022

Use lowercase spam in all references to unsolicited commercial or bulk email, often advertisements. This also applies to spam tweets.
Use uppercase Spam, a trademark, to refer to the canned meat product.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) May 17, 2022


More from our disabilities guidance: Don’t limit coverage of disabled people to coverage of disabilities. People with disabilities are experts in as many fields as nondisabled people are. Include their voices and their images in your regular coverage of any topic.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) April 7, 2022

We have added an entry on AP Stylebook Online defining the terms neurodiversity, neurodivergent, neurodiverse and neurotypical.
While use of these terms has become more common, to many they remain unfamiliar; they should be used only in direct quotes. pic.twitter.com/dvtViYHYcs

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) April 27, 2022

Growing numbers of people, including some transgender, nonbinary, agender or gender-fluid people, use “they” as a singular pronoun.
As much as possible, AP also uses “they” as a way of accurately describing and representing a person who uses those pronouns for themself.

— APStylebook (@APStylebook) April 8, 2022

Commonly confused words

On March 13 and April 16, @APStylebook held very popular chats covering commonly mixed-up words. You know the ones — they make writers’ eyes twitch when they see the wrong one being used.

  • Disinterested means impartial. Uninterested means a person lacks interest.
  • Dessert is a sweet treat. Desert is an arid land with sparse vegetation. Need help remembering this one? Just think of “strawberry shortcake” to remember the double “s” in dessert.
  • Continual describes a steady repetition. Continuous means uninterrupted, unbroken.
  • You can give someone a compliment or complimentary drinks. Use complement when describing completeness or the process of supplementing something.
  • Cannons are weapons, but canon is a law or rule.
  • Ensure means guarantee. Insure is used to reference insurance. Assure means to give confidence.
  • Effect, when used as a noun, means result. As a verb, it means to cause. Affect, when used as a verb, means to influence.
  • Farther refers to physical distance and further refers to an extension of time or degree.
  • Every day (two words) is an adverb, while everyday (one word) is an adjective. Everyone is used to mean all persons. It’s two words (every one) if describing each individual item.

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Hyphens for double-e combinations

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Other punctuation – like dashes, question marks, and exclamation points – will go inside the quotation marks if they apply to the quoted text. If they apply to the full sentence, they should be placed outside the quotation marks.

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