AP Unveils StyleGuard; Compiles Political Terms

Jan 05, 2012 admin

Gone are the days of thumbing through pages of the Associated Press Stylebook, feverishly searching to verify grammar, spelling and style as deadline approaches faster than a clock’s stroke.

The de facto guide to news writing has unveiled AP StyleGuard, new software integrated with Microsoft Word that proofreads documents against AP style for language, punctuation and journalistic fashion. As documents are composed, the software highlights proposed corrections and displays corresponding AP style rules.

AP says StyleGuard is designed to polish writing, expediting style confirmation and even displaying possible errors writers may not think to check. Because AP style is always changing (a la e-mail to email, Web site to website), StyleGuard will help keep writers updated about amended entries.

The product, which is now in beta phase, will be accessible to the general public Sunday, April 1. But it’s now available for users subscribed to the online version of the stylebook, and starting Monday, Jan. 16, it’ll be available to the style guide’s print-publication subscribers. The software is only available for PC users—Windows XP and newer and Microsoft Office 2007 and newer. It’s also the latest installment in the paperless version of the stylebook, which includes online subscriptions, a mobile application and a Twitter account.

Some of the positives I see are that it seems to be an easy and convenient proofreading tool that grammatically stamps documents faster than fingers fluttering through the trusted spiral-bound bible. It also has the potential to become a writer’s best friend because it mimics spell check in Word.

Of course with any new product, it may take some time to settle into a rhythm, so users may still grab their nearest style guide and revert to looking up definitions. Another downside may be the fear that the software could eventually replace copy editors as newsrooms turn to the technology—instead of the human eye—for cost savings.

While we anticipate StyleGuard’s arrival, we’re also expecting the U.S. national elections this year. In honor of the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, AP has compiled its list of political terms, essential words, phrases and definitions. Some interesting entries include the following terms:

  • Congress, congressional. Capitalize when referring to the U.S. Senate and House together; lowercase the adjective when not using in formal names
  • congressman, congresswoman. Use only for members of the U.S. House; lowercase as a descriptive
  • conservative. Lowercase when referencing a political philosophy
  • Democrat, Democratic Party. Both terms are capitalized
  • Election Day, election night. First term is capitalized; the second term is lowercase
  • first lady. Not an official tile, always lowercase
  • fundraiser, fundraising. Single word in all uses
  • front-runner. Candidate who leads a political race; term is hyphenated
  • horse race. Closely contested political race
  • liberal, liberalism. Lowercase when referencing a political philosophy
  • majority, plurality. Majority is more than half of votes cast, while plurality is the largest number of votes cast, but not a majority
  • president, vice president. Capitalize titles before names; lowercase in other uses
  • press secretary. Seldom a formal title, so lowercase
  • primary, primary day. Both are lowercase, including when used with a state: New Hampshire primary
  • re-elect, re-election. Both are hyphenated
  • Republican, Republican Party. Both terms are capitalized. GOP (Grand Old Party) may be used on second reference
  • stalking horse. Someone who enters a political race to lure voters away from rivals, then drops out and endorses another candidate
  • tea party. Lowercase the populist movement that opposes the Washington political establishment. Supporters are teapartyers. Formally named groups in the movement are capitalized: Tea Party Express.

Before casting ballots, brush up on your AP style with common mistakes, grammatical essentials, retweet guidelines and news writing tips.

Topics: Public Relations, Technology, Writing, Journalism

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