Q: My company is contemplating changing from using the Chicago Manual of Style to AP Style. What are the differences between the two styles?
A: It’s a shame your company may shift away from Chicago Style. I’ve used both styles, and Chicago Style, preferred by book publishers, makes more sense to me. It relies mostly on clarity.
AP Style, created for periodical publishers, evolved from the fact that newspapers and magazines needed to save space, and, in my opinion, it sometimes leads to less clarity.
AP says to write out the numbers one through nine and to use numerals thereafter. Chicago Style says to write out the numbers one through one hundred and use numerals thereafter. AP Style abbreviates states, and it does not use the same abbreviations as postal carriers use. AP does not use a serial comma (red, white and blue), whereas Chicago Style does (red, white, and blue). Of course there are hundreds of other differences as well.
Your best bet is to read through the Associated Press Stylebook, which is much smaller and less expensive than the Chicago Manual of Style, plus it is laid out alphabetically, which differs from the numerical listings in the Chicago Manual of Style. You will probably find AP Style is easy to learn.
What’s your question for book doctor Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing, and owner of Zebra Communications? Send question to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.