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Twenty Questions: A Quiz on the AP Stylebook (2013)


Twenty Questions: A Quiz on the AP Stylebook (2013)

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (Basic Books, 2013)

This 20-item quiz is based on the 2013 edition of "the journalist's bible"--The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Give yourself five minutes to answer all the questions, and then compare your responses with the editors' rulings on page two.

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  1. Do you order Girl Scout Cookies or Girl Scout cookies (that is, with or without a capital C)?

  2. Hyphenated or not: "a week-long event" or "a weeklong event"?

  3. Are those emails from Nigerian princes examples of Spam or spam?

  4. When conducting research, should Wikipedia be used as a primary source?

  5. Which of the following are trademarks and must be capitalized (if, indeed, they have to be used at all): Velcro, Frisbee, Breathalyzer, Styrofoam, Band-Aid?

  6. When using the "message-distribution system" known as Twitter, does one Twitter or Tweet?

  7. Is it correct to use tidal wave as a synonym for tsunami?

  8. Which of the following may be used in an AP news story: ditto marks [〃], italics, brackets?

  9. Arbitrate and mediate both appear in reports about labor negotiations, but only one of the terms calls for the handing down of a decision. Which one?

  10. Which is correct: associate degree or associates degree?

  11. In a recipe, two cupfuls or cupsful?

  12. Which of the following social media terms are acceptable to the AP editors: app, mashup, retweet, unfriend, click-thrus?

  13. Do you visit a Web site or a website?

  14. Does writer's guide need that apostrophe?

  15. Which pronoun should be used in reference to a ship, she or it?

  16. Which of the following words and phrases should be avoided "except when in quoted matter": deaf-mute, Canuck, coke (as a slang term for cocaine), handicap (in describing a disability), Scotch (to describe the people of Scotland)?

  17. Are abbreviations such as Mr., Dr., and Gen. acceptable at the beginning of a sentence?

  18. Is there any difference between an epidemic and a pandemic?

  19. What does fulsome mean?

  20. What's the difference (if any) between farther and further?

Time's up. Now turn to page two to compare your answers with those offered by Associated Press editors Darrell Christian, Sally Jacobsen, and David Minthorn in the 2013 edition of the AP Stylebook.

Note that there are many other style and documentation guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition published in August 2010), The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (last revised in 1999), and the trans-Atlantic Economist Style Guide (10th edition published in May 2010). You'll also find some helpful aids on the Web, including the The Guardian and Observer Style Guide (UK). Different guides often provide different responses to a number of the questions in this quiz.

Despite its eccentricities, the one indispensable reference work for American journalists and journalism students remains the AP Stylebook, updated annually and available in both print and electronic forms. If you do most of your writing online, you may prefer the Web-based AP Stylebook, which provides "searchable, instant access, with constant updates."

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