Updates to AP Style: Headlines, Serial Commas, and Pronouns

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Key Takeaways

– AP style updates were discussed in a recent webinar featuring Grammar Girl.
– The use of the serial comma in AP style is optional but can be used for clarity.
– Headlines in AP style should be in sentence case and present tense.
– Arabic numerals are used in AP style headlines, even if it’s the first word.
– AP style is evolving in terms of pronouns, with a shift towards gender-neutral language.


In a recent webinar, Grammar Girl, also known as Mignon Fogarty, shared her expertise on the latest updates to AP style. The webinar covered various topics, including the use of the serial comma, headline style, and pronouns. These updates are important for writers and journalists who follow AP style guidelines to ensure consistency and accuracy in their work. In this article, we will delve into the details of AP style for headlines and explore the key takeaways from the webinar.

Headline Style in AP

Headlines play a crucial role in capturing readers’ attention and conveying the main message of an article. In AP style, headlines should be written in sentence case, meaning only the first letter of the first word is capitalized, along with any proper nouns or adjectives. This style choice helps maintain consistency and readability across different publications. For example, a headline in AP style would look like this: “New Study Reveals Surprising Results on Climate Change.” It is important to note that AP style does not capitalize every word in a headline, unlike title case.

The Use of Arabic Numerals

Another important aspect of AP style for headlines is the use of Arabic numerals. Regardless of whether it is the first word in the headline, Arabic numerals should be used instead of spelling out numbers. This style choice helps save space and makes headlines more concise. For example, instead of writing “Three Reasons Why Exercise is Important,” AP style would dictate “3 Reasons Why Exercise is Important.” This rule applies to all numbers, including dates, percentages, and measurements.

Pronouns in AP Style

Pronouns have become an evolving area in AP style, particularly in terms of gender-neutral language. AP style now allows the use of singular “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun for individuals who do not identify as male or female. This change reflects the growing recognition and acceptance of non-binary and genderqueer individuals. It is important for writers and journalists to be aware of this update and use inclusive language in their headlines and articles. By using gender-neutral pronouns, AP style aims to promote inclusivity and respect for all individuals.


In conclusion, AP style for headlines is an important aspect of journalistic writing. By following the guidelines discussed in the webinar featuring Grammar Girl, writers and journalists can ensure consistency and accuracy in their work. The use of sentence case, Arabic numerals, and inclusive pronouns are key elements of AP style for headlines. It is crucial for professionals in the field to stay updated on AP style updates to maintain the highest standards of journalism.

Written by Martin Cole

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