AP Style (General Guidelines)

  • For names, do not use Mr./Mrs./Ms. unless they are a part of a direct quote. For children, use first names on second reference; for all others, use the last names. Also, use a person’s first and last name the first time they are mentioned in a story. Only use last names on second reference.
  • For dates, use Arabic figures. Avoid using st, nd, rd, or th.
  • For months, always capitalize the names.
  • While using months with specific dates, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. However, do not abbreviate while using them alone.
    For example, Krishna’s birthday is on Sept. 5. For years, use Arabic figures, just like with dates. While using years with dates, use commas in between. For example, Irrfan Khan died on April 29, 2020. Also, the 1900s, and the 1970s.
  • For money, use numerals. For cents, millions, billions, trillions, etc., also spell out the words after the numerals. For instance, $1.20, $200 million, 2 cents, etc. For large dollar amounts, use a dollar sign, Arabic number and the appropriate word: $2 million, $15 billion. For amounts like $2,543,000, $3,100,000 and $15,637,000,000, the correct form is $2.5 million, $3.1 million and $15.6 billion.
  • For ages, use figures. For example, Harry is 12 years old.
  • Punctuation: Commas and periods go inside quotation marks. For instance: Nadege said, “Let’s compile an AP Style guideline for the new students.” Or, “Let’s go to the party tonight,” she said.
  • Use quotation marks around the title of books and other compositions.
  • For addresses, the abbreviate Ave., Blvd. and St. only with numbered addresses: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Words like alley, circle, drive, road, terrace, court are always spelled out.

How to Read Assigned Readings

How can you read a book -or any piece of writing- when you are reading for information and not for pleasure?

During your undergraduate days, you will come across required readings that may not be enjoyable to read, but contain valuable information. Understanding these readings can ensure that you participate in class discussions, write exceptional papers and do well in your tests or exams. Finding an effective way to complete these readings is not only important so you can do well in your courses but guarantees that you make the most out of the reading material.

Here are some strategies to help you notice, understand and retain information you are reading. These strategies can be applied to all your readings.

- Read the whole thing at least once

This may sound obvious but when you are completing a tedious reading you might feel the urge to skip paragraphs or parts. Reading the entire reading can ensure that you identify all arguments and evidence presented by the author. Skipping parts of the reading can force you to revisit the reading later, taking up more of your time.

- Have a purpose and strategy

Before you begin reading, ask yourself what do you hope to gain from reading this particular book or article and how you will do the reading. Yes, this might be an assigned reading but you might be completing it so you gain a better understanding of a certain topic or the reading can be introducing you to a new concept.

Along with having a purpose, deciding on a strategy can help you save time. One strategy is writing a few questions that you can answer after you finish reading. This can be done before you start reading. Here are few questions:

1. What is the author’s argument?
2. What is the evidence supporting the argument?
3. What are some weaknesses of the argument?

- Read actively

Don’t wait for your professor to ask you questions on the reading or test your understanding.
Instead, read actively. This can include writing a summary for each page or section of the reading in the margin. This can ensure you are understanding the reading as you go along by forcing you to put the material in your own words. Also, it can help you review what you have read later on.

Highlighting important sentences or phrases can be effective but when you highlight too much of the text, it can force you to re-read unimportant information. Instead, use highlighting as a supplement to the summaries.

- Focus on parts with high information

Naturally, there are parts of the reading that contain high information content. These parts can be overwhelming to read and hard to understand. First, when you come across these parts in the reading- pace yourself. The faster you read the harder it will be to understand.

Second, it can be helpful to check if you have understood what you have read before continuing. After you have read a few sentences, ask yourself, “what does it say”. By asking yourself this, you reflect on what you have read so far.

How to Critique a Journalistic Article

  • Instead of simply summarizing the main points of the article, you must critique them. This is where most students make a mistake.
  • You should provide not only your impressions of the article or piece at hand but the evidence that backs them up as well.
  • Identifying the main idea of the article, but also clarifying its background and purpose.
  • Most of all, focus on the issues this article raises, as well as the ones it avoids.

Here are some tips for writing a critique on a journalistic article, but can apply to a range of similar assignments:


1. Read through the article once to get the main idea. The first time you read through an article, you should only try to understand the author’s overall argument.

2. Mark up the text as you read through it again and create a legend for your markings. Create a unique symbol to differentiate between parts of the text that might be confusing, important, or inconsistent.

3. Take some longer notes during subsequent readings. Record your initial reactions to the text. In addition to a legend, it is helpful to take notes when expanded thoughts come to you as you read so you can come back to them.

4. Develop a preliminary concept and outline for your critique. Form a vague opinion of the piece in question. Evaluate the journalist’s overall argument after you have read the article two or three times.

5. Make a list of possible evidence for your critique. Jog your memory for anything you've read or documentaries you've seen that might be useful for evaluating the article. Examine the author's introduction and conclusion to make sure they match up as convincing and complementary elements.


1. You can begin by questioning whether the writer's overall message is logical. One of the key things to look for when writing an article critique is the presence of any logical fallacies. Here is a list of some common examples of logical fallacies with brief explanations of each:

  • Ad hominem – when the journalist attacks someone who is expressing an opinion with the goal to discredit the other’s point of view.
  • Slippery Slope – when the journalist claims that an action will always end up to be the worst possible scenario.
  • Correlation vs. Causation – when the journalist concludes that since actions 1 and 2 occurred one after the other, then action 2 must be the effect of action 1. The problem with such a statement is mostly because the journalist draws conclusions about the correlation between the two actions without looking deeper to see the real causes and effects.
  • Wishful Thinking – when the journalist believes something that is not backed up by any proof. This issue typically occurs when someone believes the given information is true because it makes them feel good.

2. Search for any biased opinions, whether intentional or unintentional. Bias includes ignoring contrary evidence, misappropriating evidence to make conclusions appear different than they are, and imparting one's own, unfounded opinions on a text.

  • Opinions without trustworthy and ample sources to credit them cannot be taken at face value.
  • Bias can also come from a place of prejudice. Note any biases related to race, ethnicity, gender, class, or politics.

3. Examine the interview sources used and other quoted or linked evidence. Not only do the people interviewed need to be relevant and trustworthy, so do other sources used.

  • For example, let’s look at the Breitbart news. How would you define whether it is an untrustworthy source or not? To rate trustworthiness, one should know about its long history of distorting facts to suit a far-right agenda. Learning this requires paying a lot of attention to local and international news.
  • Does the journalist cite an irrelevant text from fifty years ago that no longer holds weight? If the author cites unreliable sources, it greatly diminishes the credibility of the article. Consider the journalist’s interpretations of other texts. If the journalist makes a claim about another's work, read the original work, and see if you agree with the analysis provided in the article. Complete agreement is obviously not necessary or even likely, but consider whether the author's interpretation is defensible.
  • Also, pay particular attention to any numerical facts and figures that are used to make substantial arguments.

4. Evaluate the language and stylistic elements of the article.

  • An example of what you should be looking for: some words have cultural meanings attached to them which can create a sort of confrontation in the article. Such words can place people, objects, or ideas into the “them” side in the “us vs. them” scenario. For example, if someone conservative refers to an opponent using the word “leftist”, this can be considered a form of attacking the messenger and not the message. A similar concept applies to a case when someone progressive refers to an opponent using the word “bigot”.The use of such language in an article is a clear sign of logical fallacies. Authors use it to discredit their opponents on the merit of who they are, rather than what they say.
  • An article can also be written in a heated, overzealous tone might be ignoring or refusing to engage with contradictory evidence in its analysis.
  • Always look up the definitions of unfamiliar words. A word's definition can completely change the meaning of a sentence, especially if a particular word has several definitions. Question why a journalist chose one particular word instead of another, and it might reveal something about their argument.


1. Summarize the article. If you are writing a formal critique, this is an important step. A summary should be brief, and it should demonstrate that you know what the article is about. If you found an article difficult to follow, you might want to include that in your critique after your summary.

2. Discuss what works and what doesn't. The balance of an effective critique of a newspaper article will be the discussion of its strengths and weaknesses. Talk about whether the article was engaging, whether the headline was accurate, intriguing, or sensationalist, and your overall impressions of the article. Be sure to use specific examples when making general observations and try to suggest how you would fix what you perceive to be negative aspects of the article.

3. Analyze the article's slant and focus. Many articles have a slant, a unique way of looking at the subject. Even straight reporting of a newsworthy event has a slant that sets it apart from coverage in other outlets. You might also find, depending on the paper, a distinct bias in the article. Consider the language used and whether the article's writer treats both sides of the issue fairly. Consider the use of words like "claims" rather than "says" after a quote and its connotations — it suggests the writer does not believe the person quoted.

4. Address the article's accuracy. If you suspect something in the article has been misstated or is outright false, research it yourself. Most major newspapers have strict fact-checking rules, but mistakes can be made. Multiple factual errors in the same article or paper could point to a strong bias, an issue with the paper's credibility, or a lack of journalistic standards at the paper.

5. Be sure to follow the structure of any typical college writing assignment: disclose your main argument (thesis) in the introduction, each one of the body paragraphs should expand on a new point of the article and should start with a topic sentence and summarize your arguments at the end. Make sure to use APA style!

Finally, we encourage you to dig deep. Use your existing knowledge, educated opinions, and any research you can gather to either support or disagree with the author's article. Provide empirical arguments to support your stance.

While there is no such thing as too much good evidence, over-sourcing can also be a problem if your arguments become repetitive. Make sure each source provides something unique to your critique. Additionally, don't allow your use of sources to crowd out your own opinions and arguments.

Remember that a critique doesn't have to be entirely positive or negative. In fact, the most interesting critiques often don't vehemently disagree with the author; rather, they build upon or complicate the author's idea with additional evidence.

If you do agree entirely with the author, therefore, make sure to build upon the argument either by providing additional evidence or complicating the author's idea. You can provide contradictory evidence to an argument while still maintaining that a particular point of view is the correct one.

Don't “take it easy” on the author due to misguided empathy, but neither should you be excessively negative in an attempt to prove your critical bona fides. Forcefully express your defensible points of agreement and disagreement.