When the Associated Press makes changes to the AP Stylebook, it always catches the attention of word nerds – and usually not in a good way. I, for one, hate change, especially when it’s something else to remember. Memorizing certain parts of AP Style takes time, which becomes worthless when they change the style and you have to memorize new rules and forget the old ones.
In March, the AP announced that “over,” in addition to “more than,” is acceptable to indicate greater numerical value. In the past, “over” was only used in reference to physical proximity. The plane flew over the mountain. If you wanted to talk about numbers, you had to use “more than.” The CEO makes more than $100,000.
People who prefer to use “over” in reference to numerical values are in luck: Over five cats, over 50 percent, over $20. It’s all allowed now. It hurts my ears to read that out loud, but the new rule allows each writer to choose between “over” and “more than.”
A bigger change came in April. You may be familiar with the state abbreviations of AP Style. I have a printed list of them hanging by my desk, but I have had most of them memorized from years of using them. Well, now they are irrelevant.
State names are to be spelled out now, even if they are written in conjunction with a city. “Nashville, Tennessee” is now usable in text, and “Tenn.” will only be used in lists, agate, tabular materials, credit lines and photo captions, meaning that most of the time you won’t need the abbreviations.
The good news is that if you didn’t know AP style before, these rules make your life easier. Continue to use “over” for numbers and spell out state names. I’ll be over here cringing.
Photo credit: David Corby