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Ask the Editor provides answers, clarification and guidance on style issues that go beyond the pages of the AP Stylebook. Before posing a question to AP editor David Minthorn, search the accompanying style archives for your topic. With thousands of questions and answers on file, your topic has very likely been covered. For typical style questions and responses, visit Ask the Editor FAQ.

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Ask the Editor questions from the past week:

Q. For a city that stands along in a dateline, does that extend to its county as well, assuming it is the same name as the city? In this instance, I'm referring to "San Diego County." Does that need to be followed by "Calif."? – from San Francisco on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Within the story, San Diego County would be clear.

Q. I know the rule for capitalization for agencies is as follows: "State and Justice must resolve their differences." But: Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state. Is it also true that the U.S. Navy would be lowercase in this instance?: %uFFFFHe manages programs through the deputy assistant secretaries of the navy for ships and unmanned systems.%uFFFF It looks strange for the Navy to be lowercase there. Thank you. – from Washington on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Navy is always capitalized when referring to U.S. forces.

Q. Should "well versed" contain a hyphen in the following sentence? "Our professionals are well versed in complex auditing services." – from , on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Yes, hyphenate well-versed.

Q. Should "chip card" be hyphenated in the following: ...pushed back the deadline for installing chip card readers...? Thank you! – from Denver on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Consider it a noun phrase: chip card readers.

Q. Want or wants? Only about 1 in 4 people in the United States wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor's health care law that extended coverage to millions, according to a poll. – from Washington, D.C. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Try rephrasing: Only about 1 person in 4 wants President-elect Donald Trump ... (The U.S. polling sample should be understood.)

Q. what's the correct grammar - i've seen it multiple ways, lack on consistency. Do you say - in the iTunes Store or on the iTunes store when referring to a podcast you can find there. And ditto for on Google Play or in Google Play – from New York on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. The headline atop AP's weekly list: The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store. Also, on Google Play seems to be slightly preferred to in Google Play in AP news archives.

Q. Hello. In the issue of the prefix non, the rule is no hyphen when forming a compound that "does not have special meaning." Could an example be given about what a "special meaning" entails? – from Bowling Green, Ohio on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Examples include names with proper nouns: Non-Aligned Movement, non-Euclidean geometry, non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Q. Should Fantastic Beasts, used as shortened version of the full title of this 2016 JK Rowling movie, be capped and in quotes? Thank you – from Gainesville, Fla. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Yes, but use the full capitalized title in quotes on first reference.

Q. Hi, I've looked around and can't find the proper abbreviation for the Saudi Arabian Riyal. Would it be SAR or SR ? For 99 Riyals, would it be SAR99, SR99, SAR 99, or SR 99 ? Thanks. – from Jeddah , XX on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. AP stories spell out the currency name, as in: A new gas project will be worth more than 50 billion Saudi riyals ($13.3 billion) when complete in 2019.

Q. We're referring to a list of things that start with e as "the four Es." Would it be the four Es or the four E's? – from Encinitas, Calif. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. The four E's, using guidance in the SINGLE LETTERS section of the "plurals" entry.

Q. A recent headline had it: How DirecTV Now compares to other online TV services Is that correct style for "compares to" or should it be "compares with"? I think the latter but see it the other way all the time. – from Chicago on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. If the story illustrates differences, the headline should use compares with, as explained in the Stylebook entry.

Q. The entry for "Indian" says to follow the person's preference for whether you use Indian or Native American. I'm writing a story and I interviewed multiple Native people who have different preferred terms %uFFFF what should I do throughout the story if I want consistency? – from Evanston, Ill. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. You could note high in the story that the subjects use various terms to describe themselves. Then cite the preference when each is quoted.

Q. How would you write four pounds 11 ounces in a story, as in "The baby was four pounds and 11 ounces"? – from Scottsdale, Ariz. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Use figures for the measurement. The baby weighs 4 pounds, 11 ounces.

Q. how do you abbreviate master of philosophy degree? – from Decatur, Ga. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. M.A. in philosophy. See "academic degrees" for guidance on when the abbreviation is acceptable.

Q. Is it first quarter results or first-quarter results? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. AP business stories generally hyphenate the modifier: first-quarter results.

Q. Hi. Would you need a comma in this series: ... from PCs to TVs to mobile devices. Thanks! – from New York on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. No comma needed.

Q. We expect the project to be on-schedule, on-budget and on-time. Do we need the hyphens? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. No.

Q. Is it year to date or year-to-date? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. It's hyphenated as a modifier preceding a noun: year-to-date results. Standing alone, it's often without hyphens.

Q. In a retail setting, is point-of-sale always hyphenated? We do hyphenate when used as a modifier, as in "point-of-sale (POS) system". – from Portland, Ore. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Probably not in this usage: The point of sale is the location where a customer and a retailer complete a transaction.

Q. My team is torn: cost/benefit ratio or cost-benefit ratio? I saw a 2009 question asking whether it should be with or without the hyphen, but some people here are arguing for a /! – from New York on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. See the "slash" entry for guidance.

Q. In the sentence: A blood drive is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the post recreation center. Is a apostrophe and s needed to show possession between the post and the recreation center? Also is a comma needed after Saturday? – from Knightdale, North Carolina on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. No and no; on isn't needed, either.

Q. In the sentence: There has been a high demand for blood in recent weeks and this drive is one of many being held in the Greater Baltimore area to help replenish the supply Matthews said. Is a comma needed between supply and Matthews? – from Knightdale, North Carolina on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Yes, add comma before the attribution. Also, add comma before and joining two independent clauses.

Q. Abbreviate "e-commerce" to "e-comm" or "e-com?" – from CARDIFF, Calif. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Haven't seen either abbreviation for e-commerce. A short form could be confusing. Better spell it out.

Q. Can muscular dystrophy be abbreviated as MD in a headline? – from Athens, Ga. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. I don't see any uses of the abbreviation in AP stories, which spell out muscular dystrophy.

Q. So, I saw the answer with respect to "riot" and your saying it had "legal implications" and thus any use of the word should be attributed. The dictionary definition seems to fit mthe Nov. 30, 2016, story "Charlotte officer to face no charges in black man's killing," by Jeffery Collins and Tom Foreman Jr., and yet the AP writers are using the innocuous word "unrest," which certainly does not fit the bill. I have also seen "protest turned violent" used in similar stories. Webster's New World Dictionary's definition of "riot": "1 wild or violent disorder, confusion, or disturbance; tumult; uproar; 2 a violent public disturbance of the peace, by a number of persons (specified, in law, usually as three or more) assembled together ..." What sort of legal other legal implications are you inferring? – from MARYVILLE, Tenn. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Rioting is a crime, which can result in charges, so use of the term in a news story should be with proper sourcing -- law enforcement, prosecutors or other officials.

Q. In baseball, would you refer to the batter's box, batters box, batters' box or something else entirely? – from Cranberry Township, Pa. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. AP baseball stories use batter's box.

Q. I'm unsure how your presentation of lame-duck (as follows) is meant to suggest whether it's hyphenated or not. Can you clarify what putting noun before the term, and adjective after it, means? Many thanks. (n.) lame-duck (adj.) – from Mayfield Village, Ohio on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Unhyphenated noun in an AP story: "Any time you have an incumbent sitting there as a lame duck, an agency doesn't respond as effectively and it's harder to hire people and get them to stay." Hyphenated as adjective in an AP story: That would leave final spending decisions for the post-election lame-duck Congress.

Q. Please advise if the following sentence should have a semicolon after 'call volume', or if the current comma in place is appropriate. Also, would it be better to use 'and' instead of 'as well as', or does that cause confusion? Thank you for your assistance. "As one of two managers, she is responsible for managing and creating policies and procedures, staffing models, and call volume, as well as driving team performance." – from Omaha, Neb. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. No colon after call volume. The comma followed by as well as reads fine. However, if managing and creating doesn't apply to staffing models and call volume, add appropriate verbs before those terms.

Q. How would you transcribe a quotation that included a phrase what would, in all likelihood, be written with a forward slash in text? "... bringing two worlds together, which is the mobile/handheld and the usual console experience." (The person said "mobile handheld," but in this context, the two terms are connected as descriptors for a segment of the video game industry.) – from New York on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. AP technology stories have paired the terms without a slash. One example: Repetitive motion injuries, which have long afflicted desktop and laptop computer users, are invading the mobile handheld world.

Q. As a noun, is it "jump start" (as it appears in dictionaries) or "jump-start" (as in an earlier Ask the Editor submission that did not specify part of speech but called for hyphen)? – from Bedford, N.H. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Webster's NWCD, Fifth Edition, the Stylebook's main reference, hyphenates both verb and noun forms: jump-start.

Q. I've always been told to spell out the first word of a sentence. For example if the sentence begins with an age "Ten-year-old boy" "December 2 was the coldest day of the year." Is this correct? – from Tucson , Ariz. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Yes, with a few exceptions. In citing a year to start a sentence, use the numeral: 2016 is coming nearing an end. Your first example should start with an article: A 10-year-old boy ... The 10-year-old boy. The other option uses a name: Ten-year-old Bobby Smith .. In your second example, the month is abbreviated with the calendar date: Dec. 2 was the coldest day of the year.

Q. I am not sure how to write managers as both possessive and/or plural for these to instances: 1) Please take a few minutes to complete the U.S. People Managers%uFFFF Meeting survey 2) Dear U.S.-based People Managers, – from Colorado Springs, Colo. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. You don't need a possessive in the first example. The second looks OK. If U.S. People Managers Meeting is the formal name of the event, it could be capitalized. However, people managers isn't a formal title, per se, so AP would lowercase it in the salutation.

Q. What's the correct style for this TV show: "Hawaii Five-O" (with the letter O) or "Hawaii Five-0" (with a zero)? – from Philadelphia on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. The show's website uses 0, or zero on a standard keyboard: "Hawaii Five-0"

Q. When quoting a source who has responded to a question by email, does the subject "say" something in an email or "write" something in an email? e.g. The weather was fine day, Joe Smith said in an email. OR The weather was fine that day, Joe Smith wrote in an email. – from Bloomington, Ind. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. While both formulations are used in AP stories, said in an email is used much more often.

Q. Is it correct to say: We've seen a 53 percent increase in the number of individuals under the age of 54 who need end-of-life care. or We've seen a 53 percent increase in the number of individuals younger than age 54 who need end-of-life care. – from Waukesha, Wis. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. ... individuals under age 54 who need ...

Q. If there is a hashtag over for example #BlackLivesMatter can you put quotes over it within a story? – from Fullerton, Calif. on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. AP stories don't enclose a term preceded by a hashtag in quotes. See the Stylebook's "hashtag" entry for an example as it would appear in a story or social network.

Q. Should "partner" be used as a verb? The dictionary says it is both a noun and verb but it seems overused as a fancy way of saying hired or joined or worked with. – from Washington, D.C. on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. The verb form of partner shouldn't be used as a catchall, such as for the situations you cite.

Q. AP's guidance on capitalization of composition titles states, "Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters," but doesn't specify what is meant by "principal words." It has been my understanding that all verbs should be capitalized, regardless of their length; however, I have encountered some opposition from co-workers who believe that verbs consisting of less than four letters should be lowercased. If the composition title is "Each Problem Is an Opportunity," should "is" be capitalized or lowercased? – from , on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. Yes, verbs are principal words and thus should be capitalized.

Q. Referring to the award for the best military academy football team, is it: A) Commander-in-Chief Trophy; B) Commander in Chief Trophy; C) Commander-in-Chief's Trophy; D) Commander in Chief's Trophy? – from San Antonio on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. In AP stories, it's the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, recently awarded to the Air Force Academy as the top military academy football team

Q. When using the initials of academic degrees after a name, how does the AP treat academic degrees or fellowships from outside the U.S. For example, how would AP punctuate FRCPath? – from Wilmington, N.C. on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. AP avoids abbreviations that aren't familiar to general audiences. Better to write out fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists, or fellowship examination if that's the precise reference.

Q. Relaunch or re-launch? – from Thornton, Colo. on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. The first is correct: relaunch.

Q. Hairbrained, hair-brained, harebrained, or hare-brained? It's in a quote: "I don%uFFFFt know where we get these hare-brained ideas..." – from Juneau, Alaska on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

A. It's harebrained (adj.) in the dictionary's preferred spelling.

Q. We're writing about the Philippine cities Davao City and Baguio City. Does the AP capitalize the first letter of "city" for these names? – from Gorham, Maine on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. AP uses lowercase city in those names.

Q. What is the preferred style for this nickname of old Route 66? Would you use The Mother Road, "The Mother Road," the mother road, or some other combination? – from Oklahoma City on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. Route 66 is nicknamed the Main Street of America or the Mother Road.

Q. Would you capitalize World Heritage Site if you are referring to a place that is included in UNESCO's World Heritage List? – from MIAMI, Fla. on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. Yes, that formal designation is normally capitalized.

Q. Following AP style, upon 2nd reference, The Cleveland Clinic ought to be simply lowercase 'clinic.' However, in reply to a Baseball Hall of Fame question, an AP editor stated as "a nationally revered institution," capitalized Hall of Fame is OK on second reference. Could an institution such as the Cleveland Clinic fall under the same "reverance" guideline and be the Clinic on 2nd mention? – from North Ridgeville, Ohio on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. It's frequently the Cleveland Clinic on second and subsequent references in AP stories. However, the clinic alone is lowercase.

Q. Which is correct as an adjective phrase: triple board-certified surgeon or triple-board-certified surgeon? – from Dallas on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. The first, though it could be too much shorthand for such an achievement. You could rephrase as a surgeon board-certified in three specialties, adding the specifics.

Q. Hi! Would it be 'winter-hater' or 'winter hater'? I've seen 'fun-lover'. Would it follow the same rule? – from Salt Lake City on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. In rare uses in AP stories, it's not hyphenated: winter haters.

Q. The Editor's answer whether to capitalize cognac was unclear. It said that if cognac were used as a synonym for brandy, it should be lowercase. My follow up question is: If Cognac refers to brandy made in and around the town of Cognac, would we capitalize it, as we would capitalize wines and other foods such as Burgundy, Champagne, and Chianti that are named after a region? – from New York on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. No. Neither the dictionary nor the Stylebook capitalizes cognac.

Q. What is the style for use of register marks and trademarks. First reference only or subquent references as well? Thank you. Rick Harris – from Atlanta on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. AP doesn't use registry marks. Trademark names are capitalized

Q. Is it honeybees or honey bees? – from St. Paul , Minn. on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. We defer to the dictionary spelling: honeybee, adding s for the plural.

Q. Is Chronic Wasting Disease capitalized? – from St. Paul , Minn. on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. It's spelled lowercase: chronic wasting disease.

Q. Need an answer immediately, if you could Confectioners' sugar or confectioner's sugar -- there are conflicting answers in your column – from Chicago on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. Go with the plural possessive, which is the dictionary spelling.

Q. Would an organization's mission or directional statement be capitalized? Example One: The Sisters of the Presentation Directional Statement encourages all to reverence relationships. Example Two: Employees justice issues centered around the passions of the Presentation community that are addressed in their Directional Statement. – from Dubuque, Iowa on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. AP wouldn't capitalize directional statement.

Q. I wanted to check the way to proper way to say one in this sentence: "After winning their semifinal, they lost a hard fought match against the No. 1 doubles team in the finals." I wasn't sure if number one should be spelt out as "number one" or "No. 1". Any guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks! – from San Martin, Calif. on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. Use the abbreviation. See "No." entry.

Q. How do you handle making a city/state layout possessive. For instance, "in the renovation of Buffalo, New York%uFFFFs F.N. Burt Company Factory..." would you add the comma after "York's" breaking it up from "F.N."? – from Charlotte, N.C. on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. Avoid that phrasing. Two options: the Buffalo, New York-based F.N. Burt Co. factory; or, the F.N. Burt Co. factory in Buffalo, New York.

Q. Q. I asked a question a week or so ago and my question was answered partially. The answer I received was that a scripture should be cited like this: Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." But, how is it cited if I want to put the chapter and verse at the end of the quote and it's within a paragraph? I've seen other responses that a period would go inside the quotation mark but to me this looks odd. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." : Philippians 4:13. Could you provide more guidance? Thanks! – from Charlotte, N.C. on Mon, Nov 28, 2016

A. AP stories have put it this way without the colon. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13.

Q. Should Small-Business Saturday be hyphenated? Following the style of small-business man/woman? Thanks! – from , Lancaster, Pa. on Sat, Nov 26, 2016

A. The formal name isn't hyphenated by the originators, and AP stories use Small Business Saturday.

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