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How to Learn AP Style Writing in 10 Minutes

If you’re looking for an efficient way to learn AP style writing, then look no further. AP style writing can seem like an intimidating concept, but once you get into the habit of writing in this format, structuring your thoughts in a clear and concise manner will become second nature. Let’s get into it.

What Is AP Style?

The Associated Press Stylebook is a set of rules that have been standardized by the American Press Association (APA). The purpose of this book is to help journalists write clear, concise reports by providing easy-to-follow guidelines on spelling, grammar, and style. If you’re interested in writing for a national news publication, then this is a must-read for you. Keep in mind, though, that this guide is not intended to replace the expertise of a professional writer but rather to serve as a quick reference for journalists or students who may need help with copy editing.

Why Should You Learn AP Style?

Apart from the fact that it’s quite simply the ‘in’ thing to do at the moment, there are a number of excellent reasons why you should learn AP style. Primarily, this is a style guide, so you’ll be using it for the sake of it. As a student journalist, you’ll have to edit many stories, and re-readings even more. Having the AP style guide at the tip of your tongue will make it easier for you to write in this format, and make your life as a writer much more enjoyable. It will also help you become an authoritative voice on your subject matter – if you know how to capitalise on this skill, you’ll be able to land yourself some awesome publications and high profile contacts. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this style guide will make you a better copy editor too. Let’s take a quick look at each part of an AP story (which we’ll refer to as a ‘paragraph’ henceforth):


This is generally the part that happens at the beginning of the story. In it, you’ll want to establish the context of what’s about to follow, and give the reader a small insight into the nature of your report. You can also use this space to briefly introduce any new terms that may arise in your text. For example, if you’re writing about an election, you might want to review some of the key terms (e.g. democrat, republican, liberal, conservative) with which the general public may not be entirely familiar.


This is the part that usually appears at the end of the story. In it, you’ll want to briefly summarize key points the author has made, and comment on the significance of what you’ve written. You can also use this space to bring the reader back to the central thesis of your article – in other words, to remind them of why they’re reading your article in the first place. Finally, this is also the place where you’ll want to offer the reader some valuable advice, or insights into the topic you’re writing about. For example, if you’re writing about food, you could advise the reader on which restaurants they should avoid, or even mention a few dishes that deserve a place in every meal planner’s collection.


The body of the article is where you’ll want to put all the relevant and useful information. In general, you’ll want to keep this section short and sweet. Ideally, you’ll want to write in a clear, concise manner, and use specific examples to elaborate on your points. In the body, you’ll also want to include any figures or statistical information that could significantly aid the reader in understanding your point. Using tables or graphs to illustrate your point is also ideal. Remember: the more succinctly you can write in this section the better. Keep your paragraphs to a minimum, and use subheads to assist the reader in following your line of thought. Also, make sure you’ve used a horizontal line (a ‘rule of four’) whenever you break up the text into paragraphs.


This is the part at the end of the story that forms the conclusion. Essentially, you’ll want to bring the article to a close, and offer the reader some final thoughts on the topic you’ve covered. In general, you’ll want to write in a manner that is concise, yet informative, and avoid using too many adverbs or adjectives. Additionally, if you’re writing for a national news publication, then this is the section where you’d want to include a quote from a reputable source. In the conclusion, you’ll want to review the central points you’ve made, and briefly discuss how others may perceive the significance of what you’ve written. For example, if you’ve written a fairly positive piece about a particular celebrity, you might want to cite some of their more negative comments in your conclusion, reminding the reader that this is just one man’s opinion, and not necessarily indicative of the public at large.

When you’ve mastered the art of writing in AP style, you’ll be able to write quickly and accurately, and ensure your articles are free of any spelling or grammatical errors. Additionally, being able to write in this format will make you a more attractive prospect to potential employers, as well as boost your general writing expertise. Good luck out there.