Are Your Press Releases Written in AP Style?

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AP Style Press Releases

An AP Style Press Release is a press release that follows the guidelines of the Associated Press (AP) 

Stylebook, widely recognized as the standard for journalistic writing. This style of press release is designed to deliver clear, concise, and accurate information about an organization’s news or announcements to media outlets and journalists, while ensuring consistency and credibility. 

Key elements of an AP Style Press Release include a 

  • Compelling headline
  • Dateline
  • Introductory paragraph (the lead)
  • Body text
  • Boilerplate
  • Contact information. 

By following the AP Stylebook’s specific rules for language use such as punctuation, abbreviation, capitalization, and numbers, organizations can ensure their news is easily understood and readily usable for media purposes.

What is AP Style?

AP stands for “Associated Press.” This is the group who has set various regulations in place for print news publications to follow. While these aren’t the only rules out there, they are the most commonly followed in the industry. The Associated Press has also set standards for press releases, which will be discussed at length below.

AP Rules to Follow When Writing a Press Release

1. Communicate the Message of Your Press Release in the First Sentence. We’ve discussed this at length on this blog before. It is standard practice to set your goal in the beginning. If the editor reads the first line or two without finding the objective of the release, they’re going to toss it and move on to the next.

2. Cover the Five Ws in the Body of Your Press Release. Once you have an editor’s attention, you need to deliver the pay off. Following the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when and why will make this happen. In other words, make sure you give them all the information they need to write a full story. That way they don’t have to dig deep, because as you know, they don’t have the time to dig deep on their tight deadlines.

3. Never Use Two Spaces After a Punctuation Mark. Here’s where it starts getting a little more technical. While it may seem picky, you should only use one space after punctuation—none before. This may be hard for you if you were trained to type before computers, as some people like to add two spaces after punctuation.

4.  Use Serial Comma Formatting Rather Than Oxford Commas. Typically when you list items in a series, you have the option to use a comma or not before that last and. For example: I ate bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate. Or: I ate bananas, peanut butter and chocolate. Well, when following AP Style, you drop that last comma. I’m going to admit, it drives me nuts. I like the last comma (called the Oxford comma), but I’ve had to make myself quit using it when writing press releases.

5. Use Full Names and Titles the First Time You Introduce Someone, Leave Them Off After That. When you first introduce someone in your release, like a CEO for example, you need to give their full name and title. But after that, don’t keep doing so, as it will prove superfluous and make your writing sound clunky. After the introduction, simply use their last name.

6. Use Numbers Correctly. AP Style rules for numbers are a bit tricky. Spell out numbers between one and nine. After that, use numerals like “10.” Also, use numbers for dates, and abbreviate months with more than five letters.

7.  Use Title Case Capitalization in Headings and Subheadings.

Title case capitalizes the first letter of every word except articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but, …), and (short) prepositions (in, on, for, up, …). This can be tricky because sometimes the same word can be used in different ways.

Why AP Style is Important When Writing a Press Release

Yes, it seems trivial. Who cares if you get all the little intricacies correct? Well, editors do. And since you want them to pick up your story, you need to play by their rules. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Do you format your press releases for AP? Any other rules you find to be most important?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here:


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