A change is gonna come


David Bowie. Bob Dylan. Sam Cooke.

No, this month’s Writing Workshop is not about rock ‘n’ roll legends. Today we’re talking about the Associated Press Stylebook – AP Style. You probably feel like I’ve led you here under false pretenses, but I swear there’s a common thread.

As you may or may not know, the PDC editing team follows AP Style when reviewing proposals (and all other sales collateral). It is the accepted style for all journalists, and widely adapted in corporate environments as the usual go-to. It covers everything from basic grammar, punctuation and usage, to very particular nuances of language for business, food, law, etc. The only problem is, like the English language itself – and as we know from some of those musical icons’ best songs – things change.

The AP Stylebook is updated annually, usually in June, reflecting all style changes from the year. They’re usually broad usage changes, spurned by the global news cycle.

Recently, however, the Associated Press announced a change that had the PDC editing team scrambling to update templates.

Your proposals, they are a-changin’

Effectively immediately, per a new AP rule, the PDC editing team will no longer write out “percent” in place of the symbol when used in copy. (i.e., “The commission is set at 10 percent.” will now read, “The commission is set at 10%.”)

But wait, there’s more! Another big change that was announced was the removal of the hyphen in double-e combinations with pre- and re- prefixes (e.g., reemerge, reenter, preexisting, preeminent, etc.).

I know.

As mentioned, we’ve got you covered. All templates have been updated to reflect these recent changes, and the team will incorporate these new rules into our daily editing tasks. However, we wanted to make an announcement of sorts so you wouldn’t think we suddenly stopped caring or – as if! – missed an error.

Plus, the new changes bring about a great opportunity to mention other edits we make that you might think are arbitrary but are really AP Style rules. So, while there are some exceptions (Canada jobs, copy vs. graphs, etc.) here are the Top 10 AP Style rules we change the most at the PDC.

Top 10 AP Style rules at the PDC

  1. In addresses, only abbreviate Ave., Blvd. and St. All others are written out
  2. Write out numbers zero through nine, but use numerals for 10 and up
  3. Other than Dr., remove courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms.)
  4. Remove the Oxford comma (unless removing it causes confusion)
  5. Only uppercase proper nouns; lowercase job titles when not directly before a name
  6. Unless part of a full address, write out states
  7. For time, the proper style is a.m. and p.m. (with the periods)
  8. Foodservice is one word (a change made back in 2012!)
  9. Punctuation goes inside quotation marks
  10. It’s toward, not towards (and same for upward, downward, etc.)


Greek philosopher Heraclitus is quoted as saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” It is something each of those amazing artists I mentioned earlier knew, and it’s also something every editor who follows AP Style learns to understand.

We hope you understand better now, too.

Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

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