The Associated Press Stylebook 2018: Keeping With the Times

A bit belatedly, this blog will highlight some changes in the latest edition of the AP Stylebook. For a general overview, also see the What’s New section at the front of the guide.

Generally, the main sections have been shuffled around a bit. There is a new Polls and Surveys section that takes the place of what was formerly an entry in the main Stylebook. The guide still has the useful index, and the black tabs along page edges to help find the start of each letter and separate sections in the guide. Unfortunately, this edition also still has the flimsy spiral binding.

Among the more helpful changes, a new act, amendment, bill, law, measure, ordinance, resolution, rule, statute Stylebook entry notes the differences among these similar terms and offers capitalization instruction. A new entry for lists, bulleted lists offers the same format rules as before, but the new placement in the main Stylebook makes this guidance easier to find than its previous location buried in the dash Punctuation section entry. The new em dash, en dash, hyphen entry doesn’t offer any new rules, but this is the first time the rules have been covered under a single entry. The National Institutes of Health entry now notes that it should take a singular verb, and that it should be spelled out on first mention.

As with each new edition, many of AP’s changes reflect its attempt to stay with the times. Sadly, our planet is now such that more guidance than ever is needed for treatment for extreme weather and weather-related events. The weather terms entry now includes instruction for using storm names. The hurricane entry now contains expanded information, noting it’s sometimes simpler to refer to the storm by name (e.g., Lane), rather than labeling it with “hurricane” or “tropical storm,” since storms can be upgraded or downgraded. But, the entry notes, in referring to a storm’s aftermath, labeling it as a hurricane is preferable (e.g., Puerto Rico is still dealing with the economic impact of Hurricane Maria). A new fire names entry notes to use descriptors to identify fires (e.g., the fire burning in Glacier National Park) rather than the names sometimes assigned to them by local news agencies (e.g., the Howe Ridge Fire).

There are some other timely changes whose necessity I find to be slightly unfortunate:

  • • The emoji entry now notes that this is the preferred plural form—not “emojis.” What is disconcerting is that the quotations in the news entry also now includes guidance on how to convey them in news stories. Really?
  • • Even worse, Kim Kardashian West now has her own Stylebook entry, noting to refer to her as Kardashian West after the first reference.
  • • The Stylebook entry for carefree has been removed. After all, what news story would use that word anymore?
  • • There is a new Sallie Mae Stylebook entryThanks for reminding me about my student loans, AP.
  • • The Sports section now has entry for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, explaining the degenerative brain disease linked to concussions and repeated blows to the head.

Some other notable changes are not so unfortunate:

  • • 3D no longer uses a hyphen.
  • • Homepage is now one word.
  • • The preferred treatment is now HuffPost (not “The Huffington Post”).
  • • There is no longer a social networking entry. No one needs an entry explaining what that means anymore.
  • • The URL entry no longer diagrams what the different parts of a URL indicate.

There are also some pleasant changes—let’s face it, they all relate to food. Naan (not “Nan”) is now the preferred spelling of the delicious Indian flatbread. The Food section added a churros entry. This section also now has entries for soba and udon—and notes that it is redundant to include “noodles” with either of these terms.

But now back to the bad news. The new Stylebook contains an entry for HIPAA, noting to avoid using it when possible and use terms like “privacy laws” instead. That is not the unfortunate part. What is VERY unfortunate is that, in the What’s New section, AP misspells the acronym when highlighting new 2018 edition features: “Other new entries include … HIPPA.” Oh, AP.

We TalentMEDIA editors see that mistake all the time. With clients spanning television, government, and industries ranging from health care to industrial hygiene, name a subject matter and we can tell you what typo we’re most likely to see. Give us any kind of content, and we know what typos to look for.


Written by Mary Bruzzese, Editorial Project Manager at Vector TalentMEDIA. For more information about how TalentMEDIA’s editorial team can help you, contact Mary at