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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. I just read the following sentence in a New York Times online post: "Four hundred and 23 of you %uFFFD about 10 percent %uFFFD made our finalists list." First of all, isnt' the use of "and" in the number incorrect? Secondly, should the beginning of the sentence been written as "Four hundred twenty-three of you..." or better yet, couldn't they have recast the sentence as "More than 400 of you..."? Thank you. – from Marietta , Ga. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. In a direct quote, the words are written as spoken.To avoid awkward numbers, a paraphrase and direct quote may be clearer, starting with an attribution: Smith said that 423 people, "about 10 percent, made our finalists' list."

Q. Is it the Cayman's or Caymans in a headline when referring to Cayman Islands? – from , Utah on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Caymans for the shorter form.

Q. Would Advanced Placement be capitalized or lowercase when saying "Advanced Placement biology class?" Thanks. – from Rosemead, Calif. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Advanced Placement is generally capitalized in news stories, using the spelling as you have it.

Q. In a story about the Mississippi Delta, would "Delta" get a lowercase "d" when it stands alone, as in "The delta is a place of extreme poverty"? – from Alex on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. Apparently some organizations are calling foods made from soy "soyfoods" - one word. Should we do the same? – from Washington , District of Columbia on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. With the exception of an industry group called Soyfoods Association, the generic term is better spelled as two words, soy foods.

Q. If you say "The tournament was led by golfer Phil Mickelson," golfer is lowercase as an occupational title, right? – from Raleigh, N.C. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Yes, golfer is lowercase as a job description.

Q. In the sentence "Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.", should "property" be singular or plural? – from San Francisco on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. While usually phrased as you have it, properties may be more precise for agreement.

Q. The Senate has been debating a human-trafficking bill recently. I've seen a lot of copy using the terms "human trafficking" and "sex trafficking" interchangeably but my understanding is that while sex trafficking is human trafficking, not all human trafficking is sex trafficking. Any plans to add an entry to make this distinction clear? – from Washington on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. A news story should make clear what type of trafficking is involved in a given situation.

Q. Hi there. Is it antifungal or anti-fungal? TIA. – from winchester Bay , Ore. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. It's antifungal in AP medical stories.

Q. Hi AP. I understand "$1 million" can be "1M" in a headline. What about when the dollar figure appears in a chart? The author is including a chart within his article. Should the column for dollar figures display just "M" or show "million" spelled out? Thanks! – from Madison, Wis. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Better spell out millions assuming there's space.

Q. For statistics, a 12/10/07 Ask the Editor answer says to use figures for large samplings (1 in 4 voters), but spell out numerals for finite numbers (six out of nine senators). My sentence: Infectious diseases constitute three/3 of the top 10 causes of death. The "top 10" is finite. Please explain if the guidance in "numerals" entry is to use figures for ALL statistics, regardless of sample size (large vs. finite). Or if the idea is to use figures only for large samplings and spell out finite examples. Thanks! – from Rochester, Minn. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. In this case, spell out the lower number: ... three of the top 10 causes of death. See the "numerals" section for ratios and other statistics expressed with figures.

Q. Do you bold punctuation directly after bold text? Similarly, do you italicize punctuation following a word that is italicized? – from Glen Rock, N.J. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Yes, though we don't use italics or boldface in news stories.

Q. Should I hyphenate the name of this program: Prescriber-Only Services or use Prescriber only Services? – from Madison, Wis. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. The hyphenated form makes it clearer, though the term wouldn't be capitalized in a news story.

Q. Please could you clarify the AP Style for the spelling of the Russian Defence Minister's name? Is it Sergei Shoigu or Sergey Shoygu? – from London, UK on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. In AP stories from Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Q. Can I assume "streetwear" is OK, in line with the entry on -wear? – from Tokyo on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. AP fashion stories use streetwear.

Q. If something is a menu item, such as a Vanilla Bean Frappucino, is that considered a product and capitalized? – from University Heights, Ohio on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. On a menu, first letters might be capitalized on a line-by-line list. Otherwise, lowercase items such as vanilla bean frappucino, though regional words are usually capped.

Q. I thought this was in the guide somewhere but I couldn't find it. On first reference, I know it would be "Gov. Jerry Brown." But on subsequent references, is he Gov. Brown or just Brown? (Basically, does it follow the same rule "president" follows?) Also, if it has been more than 5 paragraphs since he's been mentioned, do I need to reintroduce "Gov." again if it's the latter? – from Santa Cruz, Calif. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Gov. Jerry Brown on first reference, and Brown or the governor in follow-ups.

Q. I know we spell out a percentage at the beginning of sentence. In a quote would it be "Ninety-nine point nine percent of the...?" Or should it revert back to a decimal since it's not a whole number? Thanks. – from Reno, Nev. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Avoid the awkward spelled figure by beginning the sentence with an attribution: He said that "99.9 percent of the ..."

Q. Follow up to: Q. When you are alphabetizing a list of names, how do you order people with two last names that are not hyphenated, such as Olivia Newton John and Jonathan Taylor Thomas? from Cambridge, MA on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 A. Alphabetize by the first of the two surnames. What if it is not clear as to whether it is a surname or a middle name? – from Cambridge, MA on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Ask the individual which surname to use.

Q. When issuing a joint press release what order do the company boiler plates take? Should the company issuing the release close with their boiler plate? – from atlanta, Ga. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. For the customary practice, check a publicity service such as PR Newswire: http://www.prnewswire.com/

Q. I hope you can settle an argument we are having. Should it be french vanilla or French vanilla when referring to the type of coffee or flavor of ice cream? – from Charlotte, N.C. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. French seems to be capitalized in brand names and as a generic flavor, though vanilla is lowercase.

Q. Re: Capitalization of common nouns when they are an integral part of the full name for a person, place or thing (ex: Democratic Party). But what about an event? (Mardi Gras Pancake Supper or Mardi Gras pancake supper?) Thank you! – from Middletown, Conn. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. One-time event names are often enclosed in quotes. The common noun elements can be lowercase.

Q. Hi AP. If used as an adjective, would "Assembly" still retain capitalization in that instance? The sentence in question: "Whether Assembly Democrats can pick up swing seats in the election is unknown." Thank you! – from Madison, Wis. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Yes, though Assembly may not be needed in that context.

Q. Regarding ride-sharing/ridesharing -- From the Stylebook: Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft ... They may also be called ride-booking services. Do not use ride-sharing. But what if you are discussing the apps themselves or the technology -- such as A number of popular taxi and ride-sharing apps are available. And topics such as legislation -- Georgia has become the first state to pass legislation to regulate the ridesharing businesses. If the bill says ridesharing, should the story say that or change it to ride-hailing or ride-booking? And would it be ridebooking as a noun and ride-booking as a modifier (ride-booking service)? – from New Jersey on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. AP uses ride-booking or ride-hailing to accurately describe these taxi services.

Q. When you are alphabetizing a list of names, how do you order people with two last names that are not hyphenated, such as Olivia Newton John and Jonathan Taylor Thomas? – from Cambridge, MA on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Alphabetize by the first of the two surnames.

Q. I know that lawn mower is 2 words, but what would AP do with the term lawnmower parent? Still 2 words? Hyphenated? – from Farmington, Maine on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Three words: lawn mower parent.

Q. Should it be Late Cretaceous Period or late Cretaceous period? – from , Belleville, N.J. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. It's the late Cretaceous Period in AP stories, though period is sometimes lowercase.

Q. Is it acceptable in a news story to use the phrase "cut him a break" or "cut himself a break" or a facsimile thereof? It seems rather colloquial, but maybe it's part of standard American English now. – from New York on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. It's very informal, if not slang to be avoided. Why not substitute a more precise phrase, such as gave himself a break or a boost?

Q. In headline, shall I use & (ampersand) or and? It is not a formal name. e.g. covers apparel, accessories, footwear, underwear and swimwear. or covers apparel, accessories, footwear, underwear & swimwear. Many thanks. – from HK on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Don't use the ampersand in a headline as a substitute for and. Confine the ampersand to familiar uses such as B&B or R&B.

Q. Is non-retirement hyphenated? – from , Bedford NH on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Not by the guidance in the Stylebook's "non" entry.

Q. Is it acceptable to use FKA in place of formerly known as? If so, should it be FKA in all caps, similar to DBA? – from Dallas, Texas on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Spell out formerly known as. The Stylebook does allow lowercase aka for also known as.

Q. This always confuses me. In a sentence like the one below, do you need a coma before "effective"? The plan is pleased to announce that it has selected a new service provider, effective July 1, 2014. – from Greenwood Village, Colo. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Not in this instance.

Q. Sentence cannot be restructured. "We are forecasting a or an? ~49% decline in revenues." – from Saint Petersburg, Florida on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. "We are forecasting a 49 percent decline in revenues."

Q. Would you hyphenate "health-conscious" here? "The restaurant caters to the health-conscious." Can't recast. Thanks! – from Kansas City, Mo. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Yes, hyphenate terms using the combining form conscious: health-conscious.

Q. The sentence must remain structured as shown. Should a dollar sign be used following the slash mark in the following sentence? Our 1Q15/2015 EPS estimates stand at $0.06/$0.20, which compares with our prior estimates of $0.11/$0.25, and the Street at $0.12/$0.43. – from Saint Petersburg, Florida on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. No, use 6 cents, 20 cents, etc. Use the $ sign and decimal system for amounts of $1.01 and above. If the slash is intended to indicate an estimated range of EPS, use a hyphen for 6-20 cents and the others.

Q. Hoping you can settle a debate for me. In the following sentence, would "hard to quantify" be considered a compound modifier and thus become hyphenated? "The FDA has issued warning letters on such subjective, hard to quantify matters as the appearance of actors, imagery and animation in commercials." Thank you! – from Woodbridge , N.J. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. No hyphens required.

Q. Is it "highlights of" or "highlights from"? For example, "Here are highlights of/from the State of the Union address." – from Chicago on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Either preposition is correct. Highlights from does avoid a repetition.

Q. re: Which is preferred: Weekend Warriors Welcome or Weekend Warriors Welcomed ? This phrase will be on a large banner and the phrase is to imply that weekend warriors are welcomed to come to a facility for treatment. – from Chandler, Ariz. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Welcome Weekend Warriors

Q. Which is preferred: 3D Shapes or 3-D Shapes? – from Orrville, Ohio on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. See "3-D" entry.

Q. What's the AP Stylebook rule for "live-tweeting"? Hyphen or no hyphen? – from Longview, Wash. on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. The Stylebook's Social Media Guidelines hyphenates verb forms: live-tweeting, live-tweeted, live-tweet.

Q. Are the terms "full-change model" or "full-change version" or "full-change car" acceptable for a completely redesigned model? – from Virginia, XX on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. Why not stick with redesigned model, new model or updated version, specifying what's new. The "full-change" descriptions read like automotive hyperbole.

Q. Which is preferred: Weekend Warriors Welcome or Weekend Warriors Welcomed ? – from Chandler, Ariz. on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. How is the phrase being used?

Q. 6-8:30 a.m. or 6 to 8:30 a.m.? – from Chicago on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. The first is preferred.

Q. How do we spell the name of Yemen's president? I've seen it as "Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi" in one AP story. – from New York on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. In AP stories from Yemen and elsewhere, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Q. As a title, would you say "Journalism Major (name) or make it lower case? Thank you! – from College Park, MD on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. Spelled lowercase.

Q. I have read your entry about using the day of the week versus "today" or "tonight." But in news releases with datelines, this rules seems a bit redundant when the time element is used in the first paragraph. Should you still avoid using "today" or "tonight" even when the time reference immediately follows a dateline? – from Raleigh, N.C. on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. The news story dateline refers to the locality rather than than time element or date. For clarity, the day of the week is generally specified in the first paragraph of text.

Q. On first reference would you use Special Forces and then Green Berets afterward? Could Green Berets be used on first reference and throughout, with no mention of Special Forces? Thanks – from Alexandria, Va. on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. If you use Green Berets on first reference, specify in a follow-up that the troops belong to the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Q. Would you write section-by-section or section by section? – from Anna Maria, Fla. on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

A. She read the document section by section. It was a section-by-section reading.

Q. Hi, Is it real time or real-time? Thanks. – from Malaysia on Sun, Apr 12, 2015

A. It happened in real time. It was a real-time event.

Q. I am using a foreign word with quotes and explanation on first reference. What is the style for using that same foreign word on second reference? – from Washington on Sun, Apr 12, 2015

A. No quotes around the foreign word when using it again.

Q. What would AP's spelling of Muhammad be in the case of the Mohammed Ali mosque in Cairo? Guidance is not very clear on this point, where the spelling would not depend on a personal choice. – from Berkeley, Calif. on Sat, Apr 11, 2015

A. In this context, transliterations from the Arabic generally prefer the Muhammad spelling.

Q. Is it RN or R.N. please? – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Sat, Apr 11, 2015

A. Spell out registered nurse on first reference. In follow-ups, RN could be used.

Q. Does the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention take a singular or plural verb. Is it, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has or have made an announcement? – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Sat, Apr 11, 2015

A. Singular verb for the full name and CDC in follow-ups.

Q. Baseball question: How should I write a player's hits vs. at bats. For example: "Lind is six for 10 with two doubles and a home run," or "Adam Jones had a four-for-four night." Hyphens? Figures? Thanks! – from East Northport, N.Y. on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

A. See the "numerals" section of the Sports Guidelines: Lind is 6 for 10 with two doubles and a home run. Adam Jones had a 4-for-4 night.

Q. Is this the right usage of the word affect: "The speed limit change will take affect once signs are posted." Seems like it should be the word effect. Please advise. – from Pollok, Texas on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

A. ... will take effect ...

Q. Is there any scenario where "first" should be spelled out in a headline as a rule? For instance: "Panetta plane incident more serious than first disclosed" Or should it be "Panetta plane incident more serious than 1st disclosed" – from Washington on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

A. Spell out first in that headline as a casual usage.

Q. Hello, we're trying to nail down a style on Hezb-i-Islami. We've seen it other ways, including Hezb-e-Islami. Has AP settled on a style? Thank you – from Washington on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

A. Not entirely. Both spellings have been used from Afghanistan. Hezb-e-Islami seems was used more recently.

Q. NOT A QUESTION I looked on Google, and it says Princeton is in Elizabeth, New Jersey. – from , Ft. Meade, MD on Fri, Apr 10, 2015

A. Check this website for the school's location in Princeton, New Jersey: http://wws.princeton.edu/about-wws/location

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