Guest post by Jacqui MacKenzie
Writing a blog means you can (and, in many cases, should) take on a more casual, conversational tone than you might on a formal business website. However, blogging doesn’t mean that you get to break all the rules when it comes to proper grammar, punctuation and copywriting. All writers have a stylebook that they use to answer questions like, “Where do I put this comma?” or “Is there a hyphen in retweet?” Bloggers should be no different.
There are a number of writing stylebooks, each with its own minor differences. While book publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style and academics use APA (American Psychological Association), journalists, as well as most media writers and editors, stick to the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.
I always have a copy of the AP Stylebook on my desk for quick reference; however, I often find myself logging into the online version for more updated guidelines and answers to specific questions. Here’s a closer look at what the AP Stylebook Online offers to help make your writing word-perfect.
- Search function: Advanced and custom searches help you really narrow down what you’re looking for by choosing which part of the site you want to search and which phrases to include.
- New Entries: From mahjong to open-faced sandwich, modified tweet to Godspeed, the New Entries section keeps writers constantly up-to-date. New entries are also emailed to subscribers as soon as they are added.
- Online-only Entries: These didn’t make it to the hard copy for whatever reason, but they’re still important – for example, coleslaw, boo-boo and ASAP.
- Pronunciation Guide: Sure, you can spell it. But can you say it? Here, you can listen to how certain names, words and phrases are correctly pronounced.
- Social Media Guidelines: This section includes an intro that explains examples of social media, how journalists use social media, how to vet sources found through social media, and how to not use social media. Entries range from general technology terms, such as cloud and e-book, to terms specific to social networking sites, such as direct message and status.
- Food Style Guidelines: With the rising popularity of food writing, a section on correct recipe style, common culinary conversions and food terms only makes sense. Entries include a la king, Spam and foodie.
- Add Note/Example: For each entry, you can add a note or an example, such as a sentence using the term that will help you better understand and remember.
- My Stylebook: If your website or blog uses a certain style, with specialized terms and rules, you can add these to your own stylebook on the AP website. For example, if you write a website that provides golf tee times online, your stylebook would include a list of golf terms like birdie and albatross. Or a writer for a truck lifts blog would include terms like parallelogram lifts and mobile column lifts.
- Ask the Editor: This section includes FAQs, a complete archive of questions and the option to ask your own question. You can search through questions to find the answer to something that isn’t specifically addressed in the book or on the site.
Do you use the AP Stylebook Online? What do you like or dislike about it?
About the author:
Jacqui MacKenzie is a writer and editor for Straight North, one of the leading Chicago marketing companies specializing in Internet marketing, Web design and social media. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook!