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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Writing Mechanics: AP Style

Associated Press Style
As a pictorial representation of language, writing must have rules. In order to communicate clearly and well, a speaker or writer and their audience must of course have a shared understanding of meaning and how that meaning is relayed. Those rules are applied in various styles. Now that I've stated the obvious for clarity's sake, this month we will explore Associated Press (AP) style. Many publications, especially magazines and newspapers, use this style of grammar and punctuation.

Each week for the month of November, a different aspect of AP style will be presented.

Flu season comes every year beginning as early as October and ending as late as May. In recent years vaccinating oneself to prevent infection or decrease the severity of the symptoms should one contract the flu, has become the socially accepted and even expected course of action. Who can afford to miss work?

Recently, the threat of a more virulent flu, the avian flu, seems to be creating a mild panic. It is being compared with the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed at least 40 million people.* It is feared that if this flu makes the jump from birds to people, the result will be a global pandemic which leads me to the AP style entry for today:

pan-Prefix meaning "all" takes no hypen when combined with a common noun:

panchromatic pantheism

Most combinations with pan- are proper nouns, however, and both pan- and the proper
name it is combined with are capitalized:

Pan-African Pan-Asiatic

--Source: The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual--Fully Updated and Revised
Norm Goldstein, Editor, p.153

*What You Need To Know About Avian Flu By Catherine Arnst in New York Feb 09 '04

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