--basic information including family, home town, education, occupation, likes-dislikes, hobbies, successes-failures
--brief physical description
EXAMPLES: "His mannerisms slightly resemble those of Woody Allen, although he is much taller and has much more hair."
--verification of claims. If a person claims to be a popular, well-respected professor, check with students, other professors.
-- Direct or delayed lead followed by a nutgraph summing up significance of profile then story.
--Should be organized thematically -- not in the order you discussed things with your subject in an interview.
--Avoid using questions in place of a strong transition. For example, instead of saying something like, "So why did he decide to join the Army?" Say something like, "After paying close attention to the news following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he felt a growing sense that he should DO something. Within weeks, he had approached the Army recruiter who often sits at a table in a far corner of the Campus Center."
--Keep the reporter OUT of the story. Don’t use first person.
--Avoid empty, generic, cliched, abstract language. Remember, SHOW, don’t TELL. Rather than describe a person as being a good leader, for example, relate an anecdote in which the subject of your profile is SHOWN to be a good leader. If a subject says something like, "I learned a leadership skills in the Army," ask him or her to give you an example of when he or she thought she demonstrated those skills. Ask someone who knows your subject to try to think of an example that demonstrates your subject’s leadership skills.
Instead of saying something like, "She was always interested in nature." Describe how your subject used to hunt butterflies as a child.
--Don’t be hagiographic – that is, don’t write the life of a saint or a public relations puff piece. Your reader wants to get to know your subject as a human being and doesn’t want to be “sold a bill of goods.”
--Use only QUOTEWORTHY quotes. A quote should be colorful or otherwise give your reader an idea of how your subject talks. Don’t quote run-of-the mill answers to your questions. Don’t use slang like “Wanta,” coulda,” “gonna,” etc.
NOT good quotation material:
"I grew up in Pittsfield and went to the University of Vermont," Carey said.
GOOD quotation material.
"Heath Hatch had a philosophy when he was going through schooling as a kid. "I knew to pass a course, you had to accumulate a grade of 50 percent, and if I got a 51 percent, I felt like I was wasting energy." (This also makes a good lead.)
--Remember -- after you mention your subject by full name, use last name only for the rest of your story.
--Commas and periods INSIDE quotation marks.
AP STYLE TIP
AGES: Always use figures. When the context does not require "years" or "years old," the figure is presumed to be years. Ages expresses as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens. A 5-year-old boy. The boy is 5 years old. The boy, 7, has a sister, 10. The woman, 26, has a daughter 2 months old. The law is 8 years old. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s. (NO apostrophe.)