The AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style illustrated as a rose bush

Rose bush with mostly dark pink flowers, but oddly one or two orange ones.
(Photo: Shala Howell)

Recently, I felt compelled to explain to my husband the difference between the AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style. You’ll find the same basic punctuation rules in each, for the most partBut since the AP Stylebook has been optimized for journalism and the Chicago Manual of Style is intended for use by writers of any stripe, the Chicago Manual of Style goes into much more detail about pretty much everything.  The AP Stylebook tends to use a rougher set of punctuation rules optimized for life in the newspaper industry, which apparently feels the need to cut costs by forsaking things like the Oxford comma and the use of italics in titles.

In attempting to illustrate the differences to my husband who was neck deep in disagreements with his copyeditor over the proper use of commas in headlines, I sent him this picture of a rose bush. Most of the plant has lovely dark deep pink roses, but here and there you’ll see a rose with pink outer petals and an orange center.  If the rose bush represents the set of all writing rules, the pink roses would be the Chicago Manual of Style, and the orange & pink flowers the AP Stylebook. As the pink petals on those AP roses illustrate, the AP and Chicago style books have a great deal in common, but aren’t exactly the same.

So the next time you find yourself arguing with a copyeditor over the placement of commas, the punctuation of possessives, the use of capital letters, and the spacing around em dashes, do yourself a favor and make sure that the two of you are working from the same stylebook.

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