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I recently invested in the online version of the AP Stylebook, ditching the 2007 print version I’d picked up at a used book sale. I’m loving it! While I usually prefer a printed book over one online, there are many surprising benefits to using the online version of this tool. Here are just a few of the many reasons you may find the online AP Stylebook an invaluable writing and proofreading resource, and an excellent business decision:
Search feature. Unlike the print version, with the online guide, just punch up the term you’re looking for. The search feature makes it easy to find; and there are both simple and advanced search functions.
Personalized help. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the guide or FAQ database, simply post a question to their editors. They reply quickly — I got a response in less than 24 hours. They share the answer in their FAQs for all to benefit; and alert you, via email, that your query has been answered, so you needn’t keep checking back at the site.
Custom listings. Once you find what you’re looking for, you can store that info in your own private, online stylebook for quick and easy future reference.
Punctuation guide. Can’t remember how to use commas with essential and non-essential clauses? What’s the difference between em- and en-dashes, and how do you apply them? You’ll find the answers here. (Well actually, they defer to Webster’s New World Online Dictionary, but pick up a bundled subscription to both, conveniently accessed from their main site, and you’ll have all the resources you need.)
Audio pronunciation guide. If you’re an on-air news reporter, there’s even an audio feature so you know how to correctly pronounce all those people, places and terms that may confuse … from Bidzina Ivanishvili to Bharatiya Janata … they’ve got you covered.
Year-round updates. Say you want to make your purchase now — in January. But, come May, the 2015 publication will be out and your newly-acquired guide will become obsolete. Solution? They offer automatic, annual subscription renewal. This plan comes with year-round updates delivered to your inbox, and extends the life — or value — of your initial investment.
Discounts! Under the auto-subscription plan, the individual license drops by 20% for the first year and every year you continue to subscribe. BTW, license rates vary by number of users; and deep discounts are available for non-profit news cooperatives.
Media law overview. They provide the essential information. There are also chapters on social media, food, religion, science and more. Read about these and all their other official benefits at the AP website. There, you can also learn about add-on products that may interest you: quizzes where you can test your knowledge, or a stylebook for viewing on your mobile device …
And the humor. The humor is just an inadvertent side benefit I get for free, delivered to my inbox with each new editorial update. I don’t know why, exactly, but the odd mix of updated terms just tickles my funny bone. Perhaps it’s just me, but by the time I got to “parkerhouse rolls,” I was in stitches. See what you think. Here’s an excerpt from their January 7, 2015 email:
“Editor’s Note: Entries have been added or updated on al-Qaida; Boko Haram; cyber-, cyberspace, cyber; drive-by; Free Syrian Army; GMO; Google; Haqqani network; IRS; Islamic State group; Kathmandu; menorah; Muslim Brotherhood; ride-sharing; roundtable; safety belt; seat belt; sheikh; Taliban and Uber. Updates to the Food Guidelines include: amaretto, banh mi, blue cheese, ceviche, garam marsala, gazpacho, gnocchi, harissa, icing, IHOP, latke, liquor, meze, microbrewery, mole, Negroni, parkerhouse roll, paella, powdered sugar, preheat, profiterole, puff pastry, puree, Rice Krispies, Romano, rugelach, Tater Tots and tsimmes.”
Just as an aside, I had to see what was so new about some of these old terms. I learned that blue cheese replaces bleu cheese. And icing? Turns out that: “Icing should be used to describe sugar decorations applied to cookies; use frosting for cupcakes and cakes.” Who knew? If you want to find out what’s so new about IHOP, Tater Tots, safety belt or parkerhouse rolls, well, I guess you’re just going to have to get your own online AP Stylebook, and endlessly entertain yourself with the joys of language usage and style.
Suzy Kedzierski is a freelance writer, author, and marketing communications specialist, who helps businesses grow sales through crafting compelling PR, blogs, mailers, slogans, brochures and more. She’s also an Associate Producer of Spotlight On videos, offering the low cost, broad reach of PBS television to businesses and non-profits across the nation. Suzy authored the 5-star rated “10 Secrets to Powerful Public Speaking … Even if You’re Deathly Afraid of Being the Center of Attention,” to share her secrets with the world — and give back through donating 10% of book profits to Habitat for Humanity.