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AP vs. Chicago compares Associated Press style and Chicago style for editors, writers, teachers, students, word nerds, and anyone else who gives a dollar sign, ampersand, exclamation point, and pound sign about style.

Welcome to AP vs. Chicago: A Style Guide for Editors, Writers, and Word Nerds

I started AP vs. Chicago to keep track of style and usage according to the popular style guides The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style. A copy editor with 20-plus years of experience, I make it my job to keep up with changing styles and the evolution of language . . .

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Dictionary of Choice: Where to Look When It’s Not in the Style Book

As Fraulein Maria once said, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Hence, let’s start with each style guide’s official dictionaries.

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The Serial Comma: Lovers and Haters

Ah, the serial comma: to do or not to do. In this example, which is correct?

I like to pet kittens, puppies and bunnies.
I like to pet kittens, puppies, and bunnies.

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Different Goals, Different Styles: Why AP and Chicago Are Not Friends

AP and Chicago have very clear yet conflicting intentions, often producing diametrically opposed styles. If I think of AP as governing “fast content” (newspapers, online articles) and Chicago as governing “slow content” (books, some periodicals), you can see how the different styles grew from different needs.

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Initials: Tips for Remembering Style

You’d think that a post covering initials would be about seven words long, but, as always, Chicago has a lot to say.

Chicago: Periods, space! Except when . . . crap.

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Capitalization After Colons: One Sentence or More?

Understandably, many editors are confused about when to capitalize the element directly following a colon. The strategy I happen to use is pretty brain-free, which is to say that it follows AP style. Lucky for us, AP and Chicago agree on one thing before they part ways.

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Titles: Quote Marks, Italics, Underlining, or Naked?

Remember the days when your manual typewriter didn’t have a key for the number 1, so you used a lowercase letter L instead? And to type an exclamation point, you typed an apostrophe first, backspaced, and then typed a period beneath it? Sure you do, punk.

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State Abbreviations: Use Traditional or Go Postal?

In this quick guide to state abbreviations, I will cover the differences between AP style and Chicago style and—just to prolong your state of confusion—when to use the common two-letter abbreviations created by the United States Postal Service.

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Em Dashes and Ellipses: Closed or Spaced Out?

You might be wondering why I’ve paired the em dash with the ellipsis. Doesn’t the em dash usually get grouped with the en dash and the hyphen? Or, less commonly, with the comma, the colon, and the parenthesis? Sure . . . but those set you up for a discussion on usage, not style.

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Numbers: Spell Out or Use Numerals? (Number Style 101)

Numbers take up their own planet in the style universe, so let’s explore it one mountain at a time. This post covers the basic rules and the basic exceptions. (They’re like siblings, I tell ya.) After we get the fundamentals out of the way, we can move on to fun subcategories, such as money and measurements!

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Slashes: Uses and Restrictions

Misunderstood. Abused. Ignored.

No, not me. Well, maybe that, too, but I’m referring to the beleaguered slash . . .

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Apostrophe-S vs. Apostrophe: Forming Possessives of Words Ending in S (or an S Sound)

I’m going to focus on the difference between how The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style handle possessives for words ending in s or an s sound. In short, is it Carlos’ stylebook or Carlos’s stylebook?

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Compounds Ending with a Preposition or Adverb: Open, Hyphenated, or Solid?

It seems as if I’m always rifling through my reference books to check whether a compound is open, hyphenated, or solid in a particular style. Movie goer, movie-goer, or moviegoer? There is no consistency, no logic apparent to the naked mind . . . or is there?

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