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As a PR professional, I spend most of my day reading, writing and editing. There is always an article to skim, a press release to be written or PR plan to edit. Inevitably, there are a lot of office conversations that argue the nuances found in the English language.


Improper Capitalization: Seasons

One of the most common issues I see in news articles and within our own office is the improper capitalization of seasons such as winter, summer, spring and fall. Even in my own writing, I refer back to my trusty AP Stylebook to remind me if it is

INCORRECT: The restaurant will open to the public in late Spring.


CORRECT: The restaurant will open to the public in late spring.

Oxford Comma

It’s almost every time I write a press release, I receive edits that “correct” my AP Style format and switch my series comma to an Oxford comma. For everyone else who isn’t a complete grammar nerd, the following are examples of a series comma in AP Style and an Oxford comma.

AP STYLE: My favorite colors are teal, navy and red


OXFORD COMMA: My favorite colors are teal, navy, and red.

An Oxford comma is primarily used in English Literature classes and creative writing (MLA format) and also by our friends across the pond; hence Oxford.

Affect vs. Effect

This is a very common mistake found throughout papers of high school students and college professors alike. The easiest way to remember this rule is that affect is a verb and means to influence while effect is a noun and refers to a result. As an example:

AFFECT: The game will affect the standings.


EFFECT: He miscalculated the effect of his actions.

There will always be mistakes due to grammar and AP Style. Regardless of if you have worked as a public relations professional, it never hurts to pull out your trusty AP Stylebook and check your work. One word of advice, make sure it’s an updated copy. The AP Stylebook I have from college is about 300 pages, but the latest edition is over 600 pages!

Question: What is the difference between a cat and a comma?

Answer: One has claws at the end of its paws and the other has a pause at the end of its clause.