Press Release Format (AP Style) – A Comprehensive Guide

By Danica Jovic

July 5, 2023

Writing press releases is not as easy as you might think, especially if you want to do it while following the Associated Press (AP) guidelines. There are lots of things to be aware of, from punctuation to the text formatting and creating a short “about you” paragraph (boilerplate). You also need to think about your audience – not only journalists and editors but also people interested in your company’s services or products. Therefore, before you even start writing the news about your company, be sure to know how to do it properly. We are here to help you write a press release format in AP style, but before we do that, here’s a short introduction to the AP writing style. 

What is AP Style Writing?

AP style is a writing style for journalists, magazines, and news set by the Associated Press news agency. Although some magazines (like New York Times) have their own publishing styles, AP style is considered an essential guide for journalists and editors or anyone else who wants to publish news. Like other style guidelines, AP style ensures that articles are formatted uniformly, regardless of who writes them. AP style writing rules are published in the AP stylebook. In this book, you can see the standards for text presentation, including news and press releases. 

A press release using AP style includes numerous rules, and we are going to explain the most important ones here: 

Serial Comma 

Unlike Oxford style, AP style doesn’t allow the use of the serial comma. That means that the comma in AP style doesn’t go after the last item in a list. The usage of commas is often a matter of style, but if you write magazine articles and news, AP style requires you to follow this rule. 


Don’t use a double space after a period if you write following the Associated Press writing style. The style requires a one-space rule after a period. 


It might be easy to forget, so always check how you write numbers in articles formatted using the AP style. According to the Associated Press style guide, numbers between one and nine must be spelled, and you can use numerals past the number ten (10). By following the AP style, time should be written in numbers instead of words. For example, you should write “3 p.m.” instead of “three o’clock in the afternoon.”


When it comes to dates, there are a few rules to memorize. Firstly, you should use numbers to write dates. Secondly, the abbreviation applies only for months that are more than five letters long. 


We know that there are a lot of attractive fonts to use but stick to standard ones. Editors will not be impressed with this type of experiment, especially if they follow standard AP style rules. Times New Roman is the standard font that you should use. AP style press release format sets the rules for font size too. The font size is also standardized and can be one point apart in size. If your headline is 14, the subheadings should be 13. The body of your text would then be size 12.


Never use a first-person perspective in your article; you are a journalist, not a bard. AP style requires news and articles written in third-person only. 


AP style headline capitalization means that all headlines and subheadings have to be written in the title case. 

How to write an AP style press release

Before starting to write a press release, make sure that you know five W’s or five questions all journalists must be able to answer. These questions are the core of any news piece, and if you know how to ask and answer them, you may rest assured that you are providing adequate information to your audience. The answers to these questions summarize what your piece is about, and you should answer them in the first paragraph of the text. After that, you can add details to flesh out your press release. 

These are the questions to answer: 

Who is involved

The answer should include information about the topic of the article. When writing news, writers should establish the subject (individual, company), and if it’s a press release, it should be about the company doing the press release.

What happened?

Explain what the piece is about briefly. For example, if your business is launching a new product, write about it. 

When did it happen?

AP press news should provide information about the timing of the event – when did the event you are writing about happen, or when will it happen?

Where did it happen?

As with time, readers should be told where the event that’s talked about is happening/has happened/will happen.

Why did it happen?

It is a straightforward question, but sometimes it can be challenging to answer. You need to explain why your news is important for your readers. 

Answer these questions briefly but accurately so your audience will get all the necessary information in the first paragraph. It is important to be short and direct in this first paragraph because many readers won’t read the rest of the article. 

Identify Your Audience 

Another thing you need to do is identify who your AP press release readers are. Once you find out who your target audience is (that means not only editors and journalists but your customers or followers), you need to find a way to grab their attention. See what your readers are interested in, what their values are, what businesses they trust. You also need to research the demographic of your audience, including their age, gender, location, etc. 

As you can see, creating a press release involves more than just getting the press release formatting right. For this reason, many businesses use press release distribution services. Aside from disseminating your news through the most popular media outlets, press release distribution companies will create and edit your press release, too.

Provide Press Release Instructions 

Your AP style news release should include the time and date when you want your news to be published. If your story is ready for publishing, type the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” On the other hand, if you have an embargoed press release (a release that is not ready for immediate publishing),  write  “EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL,” followed by the time and date when you want it published.

Include Contact Information 

When it comes to formatting a press release, don’t forget to include the contact details (name, phone number, email address) of the person who can provide more information about the press release content. Write your AP style press release dateline in the top left corner of the press release. 

Write the Press Release Headline

The next thing you need to do is to write a headline. The press release headline is positioned at the top center of the page, and it shouldn’t be more than 80 characters long. It has to be eye-catchy to grab the readers’ attention. The subhead is located below the headline. It can be longer than the headline and may include up to 120 characters that explain the content in your headline.

Both the AP headline and subhead should include keywords that boost the visibility of your press release. There are also other things that you can do when writing an Associated Press style press release headline. For example, you can search for a story already in the news and connect it with your piece somehow. This practice is also called “newsjacking.” Our advice is to use the present tense when you write the headline. It will attract your readers if the headline is exciting and catchy-sounding.   

The Lead 

The lead has to be short and to the point but still interesting. It’s the first paragraph of your press release, and it should be at least 60 characters long. You should also add the date when you want your press release to go live and the location your release originates from. This is an example of the date and location information for the press release (format AP): 

Phoenix, Ariz. (October 20, 2021) 

The date and location have to be bolded, and you need to use AP style for the state abbreviation. 

The lead is the first thing journalists will read, so it has to summarize the most important things about the news you want to share. In this part of your press release, you need to answer the five W’s.

Write Your Boilerplate

The boilerplate or the “about” section is another important part of the standard press release format. It’s placed at the bottom of the statement and includes information about your business, such as your company history and values, awards, further plans, and anything else that is relevant for your audience. If you follow the AP format for the press release, this section shouldn’t be longer than 100 words. For example, if your business offers legal services, the boilerplate should talk about your company’s years in business, awards, and any of the company’s accomplishments.    

Choose the Media Outlets That You Want to Send Your Press Release 

After you finish your press release creation, you need to decide where you want to send it. You will be in a position to choose among hundreds of media outlets, and sometimes it can be really difficult to decide where to publish the press release in AP style. You should choose wisely because media outlets receive hundreds of press releases daily, and not all of them will publish yours. Also, pick those media outlets that target your audience. For example, if you’re opening a pet-friendly restaurant, send your press release to food and beverage and pet magazines. 

Choose How You Want to Distribute Your Press Release 

The distribution of your press releases is the next step after you format them in accordance with the AP style. There are several ways to spread the AP press release. For example, you can send the press release to journalists, bloggers, and influencers with whom you are already connected. Aside from the direct outreach, you can send the news to numerous media outlets to get wider media exposure. To do this, you will need to use press release distribution services. Alternatively, you can try to send your press release to journals and magazines on your own, but there’s no guarantee that they will publish it.

It’s always a good idea to publish your press release on your website. This will increase the overall visibility of your company. Some website creators offer the option to add the press release page and publish the AP press release format with a few simple clicks. Also, don’t forget to share your media statement on social media channels so your followers can see it.


Do press releases use AP style?

Generally, press releases should be written per the AP style guidelines. Media outlets and editors will not publish your press release if it doesn’t follow the rules set by Associated Press. Even though some newspapers created their own rules for publishing articles, like The New York Times, every journalist should be familiar with the AP style.

How do you write a press release in AP format?

If you want to craft the press release and format it AP style, there’s a stylebook published by Associated Press that you can download on the internet. The book is regularly updated, so make sure that you always have the newest version when writing your press release. The book sets the criteria for any text you want to write, including text formation criteria, punctuation rules, and grammar rules.

What is AP style press release?

An AP style press release is a press release or statement for the media written in accordance with the Associated Press style guide book. Every year, AP publishes the stylebook that becomes available for journalists, editors, and writers. The book contains everything you need to know about the AP style paper format – from technical things like formatting the text to grammar and style rules.

Why is AP style important?

There are various style guidelines, but if you want to work in print media, it is essential to know the AP style guide. It’s a widely accepted style guide that sets the rules for formatting press and news releases. Usually, editors will not accept a story that doesn’t meet the AP style guide rules, except if the magazine you want to publish your article in uses another style guide. For example, The Guardian, New York Times, and BBC all have their style guides.

How do you format a press release?

It’s best to use the AP style for press releases. AP’s style guide is the most commonly used document for news and journal articles that businesses use to publish some news about the company’s services, an event, or a new product. The AP stylebook contains all you need to know about press release formatting – from creating the body of your press release to which grammar rule to follow. Of course, if you find press release creation to be stressful or time-consuming, you can delegate it to press release distribution companies. Many of them provide complete press release writing and editing services and can help you craft a press release format in AP style.

How long should a press release be?

Generally, a press release shouldn’t be too long. An ideal length is between 300 and 400 words, which is enough to inform your audience about everything they need to know.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top