March Madness Writing Style Showdown

March Madness Writing Style Showdown

By Alyssa Zinar

March Madness is back! The buzz of brackets is in full swing, so we’ve decided to get off the bench and into the game. Now, you may be thinking, “What does a PR agency know about college basketball?” It’s more than you would think – just ask our resident college basketball enthusiast Kevin Shinkle (#BearDown). But we’re more interested in creating a writing style showdown.

The art of writing can be very subjective, and everyone tends to defer to their own style. Yes, we know, there are rules to proper grammar and guides to help PR pros, journalists and other writers stay consistent, but sometimes there are things we just don’t want to give in on – we’re looking at you, Oxford comma lovers.

This March, we want to once and for all (or at least until next year’s tournament) crown the single most important rule for writing … the Champion of Style and Grammar Writing if you will. We’ve collected 16 of the most debated style and grammar rules and built a bracket for you to vote on your favorites. We will be posting polls on our LinkedInTwitter and Instagram accounts starting March 17 to keep track of which rules of writing reign supreme.

Check back in throughout the week to learn which grammar and style standards will be moving on to the next round and which are old habits that need to be broken.

Update from first round

Following last week’s tip off for our Writing Style Showdown bracket challenge, we’ve moved on to the Elite Eight matchups! One of the biggest upsets came from the Oxford comma debate, where to D+P’s surprise more pros are in favor of using the Oxford comma.

Check out which grammar and style rules and preferences are going head-to-head in our next round, and be sure to pop over to D+P’s LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to cast your vote for which contender is more important to you when writing.

Elite Eight Matchups

  • use the Oxford comma vs. using one space after a period
  • starting sentences with conjunctions vs. writing date before time before place for event details
  • using % vs. email
  • writing out one – nine vs. only capitalizing titles before names
  • advisor vs. donut
  • like vs. toward
  • a.m. & p.m. vs. dates back
  • more than vs. it (when referring to organizations)

Take a look at this season’s contenders, and start voting on your preferred social platform here: LinkedInTwitter or Instagram.

First up is the AP Style division:

  • writing out percent vs. using %
  • spelling out numbers one-nine vs. using 1-9
  • capitalizing titles only before a name vs. capitalizing all titles
  • email vs. e-mail


In the spelling/word choice division, we have: 

  • adviser vs. advisor
  • doughnut vs. donut
  • like vs. such as
  • toward vs. towards


Next is the stylistic writing choices division:

  • using the Oxford comma vs. omitting the Oxford comma
  • using one space after a period vs. using two spaces after a period
  • time before date before place vs. date before time before place (when writing out event details)
  • starting sentences with conjunctions vs. never starting sentences with conjunctions


And lastly, a division of all the things that couldn’t fit into a neat category:

  • a.m. & p.m. vs. am & pm
  • dates back vs. dates to
  • more than vs. over
  • it vs. they (when referring to organizations)
Alyssa Zinar

Alyssa Zinar

In her role as Associate Vice President and Senior Digital News Producer, Alyssa provides client strategy and support, manages social media pages, and engages in media outreach, strategic communications, event planning, in-depth research and video content creation.