AP style rules for commonly confused words

To decrease stress, consider ‘laying’ down your smartphone and ‘lying’ on the beach. However, if your concern is the ‘effect’ of not knowing the correct terms to use, this guide can help.

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Using the wrong word in your copy can be embarrassing, but it’s a mistake to which many communicators can relate.

In a recent Twitter chat, AP Stylebook editor Paula Froke set the record straight about many terms that are often used incorrectly.

If you don’t know whether your latest PR campaign is “complimenting” or “complementing” your organization’s marketing efforts, consider these AP style guidelines for commonly confused words:

Effect vs. Affect

“Effect” means to cause (if using as a verb) or the result (if using as a noun). As a verb, “affect” means to influence. Most communicators should avoid using the latter as a noun.

Affect, as a verb, means to influence: The game will affect the standings. Effect, as a verb, means to cause: He will effect many changes in the company. Or: To effect change, you must affect people. #APStyleChat (1/2)

— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) March 13, 2019

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