It’s Buses not Busses

AP Style is something that every reporter needs an understanding of. It’s taught in college, thankfully, but only to some degree. When you are working full-time, it becomes a hassle, at times. Words and phrases I used in college aren’t allowed now at the Chronicle. It takes trial and error, but knowledge of AP Style as a whole is still key.

The book isn’t expensive and should be owned by all of us. They even have an on-line version for those that don’t like ink on their hands. The catch is they update it each year, which makes you buy it again and again to make sure you keep up with the subtle and sometimes annoying changes.

For some background on AP Style go here.

This all came about from a story I wrote last week, where I used the word “busses.”

I used the word about five times in the story. I thought nothing of it. I told Mike the story was in and right away he was busting me about it.

I looked at him puzzled, because I know the plural form can be busses and buses. I chose busses for whatever reason. I learned my lesson because we use buses. End of story.

Everyone had a good laugh, including me. Each time he came to a “busses” he would overreact like it was the worst thing I had ever done. It was actually pretty funny. We all had a good time with it.

Getting put on the spot like that helps me to learn from and remember my mistakes. It’s not ideal to learn that way for everyone, but for me it helps to stick in my head, so when the word comes up again, I’ll know not to use busses.

I wouldn’t call myself lazy on that one, but I could have asked before filling my story with the wrong word.

This post is to remind myself and every reporter that it doesn’t hurt to check the unusual, uncommon words, as well as the common words once in a while. It’s a good habit to get into and, trust me, it’ll make you a better writer.

It’s something I have to work on, as well. I’m not perfect and I could use a refresher on my AP style guidelines.

Jonathan

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