Fixing grammar, one hyphen at a time

By Colleen Newvine

Our Stylebook product manager explains how it can be useful outside of the media industry and provides a way to craft perfect sentences automatically … or at least ones free of errors.

When I started working on AP Stylebook, I imagined that most of our customers would be reporters in newsrooms looking to adhere to what had become the gold standard in journalism. After all, AP has aimed to serve them through its primary licensing business for most of its existence and the Stylebook got its start as a tool for AP’s own journalists.

But I have been pleasantly surprised to see that users far beyond reporters and editors find the Stylebook useful. We have customers in law offices and government, and insurance and architecture firms. I attended the Public Relations Society of America’s convention for the first time last year and the enthusiasm I heard for the Stylebook confirmed what I’ve seen for years on our Twitter account – that PR professionals depend on the Stylebook and have deep affection for it.

With the growing importance of content, corporations are investing more in websites, blogs and newsletters, not to mention social media. As a result, we’ve seen sales grow for the print Stylebook and our many digital subscription services. A lot more people are thinking of themselves as writers, and are looking for advice when it comes to spelling, grammar or punctuating words and phrases consistently.

“Should I hyphenate this?” for example, is a frequently asked question in our “Ask the Editor” section of Stylebook Online. David Minthorn, who answers the queries, takes his job seriously, promptly responding to our customers and the issues they face when trying to construct the perfect sentence.

One of the great things about this job is knowing that we can help writers of all ages and experience levels improve one word at a time. And as the tools that people use on a daily basis change, our goal remains the same – serving writers and editors, however it’s best for their needs.

That’s why we’re excited to be unveiling an e-book edition, which is something many of our Twitter followers have been asking for. This new version is searchable and portable, and all of the “see also” references in the e-book – including in the extensive index – are links, so it’s easy to navigate to the guidance you need.

It’s just the latest advancement from when the Stylebook used to be, well, confined to an actual book. We still have a print edition, as well as our iOS app and the mobile-optimized Stylebook Online. We also partnered with Webster’s New World College Dictionary to offer a combined subscription service, and created Style Quizzes to test your knowledge.

Then there is Styleguard, which automatically checks Microsoft Word documents, and AP Lingofy to catch lurking mistakes as you write in your Web browser. Even though I work with AP style every day, I still make the occasional error, too, however annoying it can be, and these checking tools help keep me in style.

As we continue to update Stylebook entries and platforms, please let me know at if there’s something you’d like to see that we’re missing. We hope you’ll take some time to look at Stylebook if you haven’t already, and that we can exceed your expectations moving forward, one hyphen at a time.

Colleen Newvine

Colleen is the product manager for The Associated Press overseeing Stylebook. Receive style tips through @APStylebook on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

insights, media tools, stylebook