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The Associated Press Guide To Punctuation [Paperback]

Rene J. Cappon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 7, 2003 0738207853 978-0738207858
More people write for the Associated Press than for any other news service, and more writers take their style and word-usage cues from this world-famous institution than from any other journalism source. In the no-nonsense, authoritative tradition of the best-selling AP Stylebook, the top editors at the AP have now written the definitive guide to punctuation. From the when and how of the ampersand to the rules for dashes, slashes, and brackets; from the correct moment for the overused exclamation point to the rules of engagement for the semicolon, The AP Guide to Punctuation is an invaluable and easy-to-use guide to the most important aspect of clear and persuasive writing.

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The Associated Press Guide To Punctuation + The Associated Press Stylebook 2013 (Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law) + The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Cappon has served as the AP Newsfeatures editor, the AP Managing Editor, and as the AP General News Editor. He is the author of The AP Guide to Newswriting, a well-worn and oft-referred-to primer for journalists on all rungs of the media ladder.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738207853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738207858
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Written with lively and direct prose, Rene J. Cappon's guide to punctuation succeeds in being a useful resourse for the busy journalist. No reader need fear about getting bogged down in the finer points of periods. If such a situation threatens to occur, Capon is quick to suggest a workaround. This leaves the stickiest questions even stickier, a real prickle for someone as persnickety as me. But for the journalist, or journalism student, I heartily recommend it.
To those looking for a deeper understanding of punctuation, I caution against this slim tome. Organized into seventeen chapters by punctuation, some of them no more than a half of a page ('The Ampersand') and some as many as sixteen ('The Comma'), the AP GUIDE TO PUNCTUATION lacks the philosophical depth and historical background of recent bestseller EATS, SHOOTS, & LEAVES as well as the dry grammar books of days past. The examples, while fun, are not nearly as comprehensive as one expects in any book that bills itself as a reference.
By way of example, here is the entire entry for Irregular Plurals under 'The Apostrophe':
Irregular plurals also take the apostrophe: <i>children's hour, women's rights, gentlemen's traditions, men's club</i>, and so do nouns that are the same in singular: <i>the single moose's antlers, the deer's track, the two corps' travels.</i> The apostrophe stays whether the meaning is singular or plural.
No mention is made that it is preferable to disambiguate the singular and plural in such cases. Especially in journalistic writing, where clarity and simplicity are the twin grails of good style.
A dedicated journalist might prefer a true grammar of the English language or the complete and comprehensive AP STYLE BOOK. While they may be dry, they will certainly go a good deal further in answering the questions that arise in all aspects of writing.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Graceful, Witty Guide to Punctuation December 10, 2003
As a professional editor for nearly two decades, I heartily recommend this book. Cappon's writing is clear, funny, and creative, and he makes the nuances of punctuation memorable. His reasoning is logical, and his explanations and examples are very helpful. Interestingly, though this is an Associated Press publication, some of the style differs from the official A.P. Stylebook. So if A.P. is your background, be aware of this.
Cappon is a terrific writer, and anyone else who writes would benefit immensely from this lucid guide to punctuation.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Full of mistakes March 3, 2005
It appears that some fool edited the cautionary examples for correctness. (p. 34) The grammar is poor ("verboten" as a noun? (p. 85)), and the usage is non-standard (Commas are "trundled out"? (p.37)). Some passages are self-contradictory ("With Adjectives, p. 37).

This book is not a total disaster, but I can hardly recommend it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Abysmal. December 4, 2008
Cappon's book is sloppy, rushed, and incomplete. I can't recommend it to anyone.

The same Pope quotation is trotted out twice (p. 34 & p. 76), the second time clumsily, and both times Cappon renders it incorrectly.

Page 40's entry on commas in series includes a misspelling ("stuf") and a violation of the rule covering capitalization after a colon (which can be found on p. 28).

The "Hands Off" warning from the chapter on quotation marks is dogmatic about handling speech in its raw form: "Grammatical and other errors are the speaker's problems, not yours." Yet what practicing journalist transcribes every "um," "uh," and false start the recorder captures?

When a book that purports to help writers offers more in the way of hindrance--and can't trouble itself to take its own advice--it can only be judged a failure.

This is another post-Strunk & White writing guide that prizes brevity over clarity and cuteness over completeness. If the AP wants a useful punctuation guide, it should start from scratch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chapter on commas will change your professional life November 11, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
This is not a remedial book or a dense, scholarly book. It's an in-between kind of practical book that offers a lot of useful examples that you can quickly skim.

The chapter on commas alone is worth the price of the book. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this chapter alone will change your professional life.

Here's why: Many of us learned in first or second grade that a comma is a pause. The teacher told us this because we were new to the written word and, while scrawling our first sentences in unsteady handwriting, we had to be reminded incessantly to apply a period, a space and then a capital letter. I volunteer in elementary schools, so it's fresh in my mind how much children struggle to remember those seemingly arbitrary details.

Then, after we get that down, the teacher throws a new form of punctuation at us, the comma. We recoil and freak out a bit. The teacher says, "The period is a full stop and the comma is a pause." We relax a little and begin to apply the new punctuation mark.

Unfortunately, that's the last time anyone tells most of us anything about commas. Consequently, as grownups who now write professional documents, we apply commas willy-nilly whenever the voice inside our own head hears what could be identified as a pause.


Every comma has a reason for being. Commas are not subjective. They are not pauses.

This book will clarify that for you, primarily through examples. (Hooray! *Finally*, your ambivalence and errors can be put to rest.)

I create and give writing and critical-thinking workshops, including a few different kinds related to copy editing. I use this book with my top students.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars AP Guide is a Handy Desk Reference for Pesky Punctuation Problems
This handy little book is a punctuation lifesaver for this retired newspaper writer who is now a book editor Yes, there are times you must check to be certain something is correct. Read more
Published 16 days ago by J. C. Keller
5.0 out of 5 stars Associated Press
Great. Just what I wanted!!! There's nothing more to say about this fine project. Is that six more required words?
Published 1 month ago by Ann E. Weidman
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn from the Pros!
Just as the AP Stylebook should be used as a desk reference in all high school English classes, the AP Guide to Punctuation should be a featured as well.
Published 3 months ago by Cheryl Troutman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those pesky punctuation questions
I work as a communications coordinator and am constantly writing copy for emails, letters and publications. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. W. McGhee
5.0 out of 5 stars A very necessary tool!
An easy-to-use guideline and a must-have for anyone who writes or teaches. I use it every day. Thank you very much!
Published 6 months ago by Karen Holland
4.0 out of 5 stars Belongs on Everyone's Bookshelf!
Excellent resource for anyone working in mass media, public communications, editing, or grammar. Quick and short guide to English grammar. Should belong on everyone's bookshelf!
Published 7 months ago by Smedsters
3.0 out of 5 stars Essential for journalists
This is essential reading for anyone considering being a journalist of any kind. If it is not required reading at your J-school, drop out and find a better school.
Published 7 months ago by ssteussy
5.0 out of 5 stars A professional must have
Complements AP Stylebook and Litwin's "The ABCs of Strategic Communication." Every strategic communicator should have this book in his/her tool kit.
Published 7 months ago by Alana Perri
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Book was in great condition and was very helpful for my college class. It is a basic explanation of grammar punctuational such as hyphens and commas.
Published 8 months ago by Wesley Ballinger
5.0 out of 5 stars SMRT!
It'll make you smart. Really. The Associated Press has a corner on the news article market (and many other things). SMRT! YOU ARE smart!
Published 8 months ago by Shawn M. Young
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