Strategies & Tactics

Never Out of Style

August 1, 2019

I remember my first AP Stylebook. I wrote my name on the inside cover of the spiral-bound newsroom bible so people knew that it was mine. Plus, personalizing the copy added a touch of permanence — this was for keeps! I wouldn’t be selling this back at the end of the semester like those other useless textbooks on, say, philosophy and chemistry.

It was the fall of 1987, and I was enrolled in Journalism 201 (J201 for those in the know), which was an introduction to newswriting and editing class at the Ohio State University. We had to successfully complete 201 and 202 to move to the next level and work on The Lantern, the school’s daily newspaper.

Our teaching assistant, a former daily reporter earning his advanced degree, gave us daily AP Style quizzes. So we had to always have our Stylebooks with us.

I carried my Stylebook with me pretty much everywhere — from bars and restaurants to outings with my girlfriend’s family. I thought it made me look like a serious journalist. (No one had the heart to tell me that I looked like a dork. Ditto for the phase where I carried a copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” around campus. That book eventually disappeared, though likely because I didn’t write my name in it!)

The multiple-choice style quizzes were straightforward, sticking to usage we’d likely encounter, such as academic titles, comma series or datelines. I recall tripping up on terms such as hard-learned blunders like further and farther.

That Stylebook served me well throughout my collegiate career and into my first post-graduation reporting jobs. At some point, I replaced it with a newer edition, but I hung on to that first copy. As the years went on, I finally discarded my first Stylebook. It seemed as if I was buying a new one every few years, and my nostalgia was trumped by the need for shelf space.

In this issue you’ll find an interview with Paula Froke, editor of the AP Stylebook, who talks with Managing Editor Amy Jacques about the latest edition and most recent changes, such as the unpopular % versus percent rule. (For the time being, we’re sticking with using percent.)

These days, I mostly use the online Stylebook, but I still like to have the printed version. To that end, we recently ordered the latest Stylebooks for our PRSA team. I do plan to write my name in it!

A Silver win

I’m pleased to report that Strategies & Tactics received the Silver in the Newspaper/General Excellence category at the 39th Annual EXCEL Awards.

The EXCEL Awards, a program created by Association Media & Publishing (AM&P), highlight achievements in association media, publishing and communications.

AM&P announced the winners on June 24 in Washington, D.C. The American Heart Association took the top honors in our category. The fact that a panel of judges recognized the quality in the first year of the publication’s existence is especially gratifying.

Thank you to everyone who contributes to Strategies & Tactics and our mission of providing lifelong learning to PRSA members.

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.

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