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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. What are the rules for separating independent clauses on the front cover of a publication (think TIME magazine'esque layout)? I'm primarily concerned with the use of punctuation. – from JTF-PAO-GTMO, AP on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. Normal punctuation rules generally apply. But check various magazine covers to see how such clauses may be handled in that format.

Q. If there is more than one founder, should it be Founders Day or Founders' Day or Founder's Day? – from Rosemead, Calif. on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. Generally the descriptive Founders Day is used.

Q. Please advise how to use commas in a series of nouns joined by the word "and." Could not find this in search the questions feature. – from Ellicott City, MD on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. See IN A SERIES section of the "comma" entry in the Stylebook's Punctuation Guide.

Q. A performing arts school I edit for has listed a "lecture-recital" as one of its music events and a "lecture demonstration" as one of its dance events. I want to be consistent and correct. Should there be a hyphen between "lecture" and the following word, a slash, or just a space without any symbol? Thanks. – from NJ on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. Hyphenate both compounds to indicate nouns of equal importance.

Q. A vs. AN When referencing the name of an aircraft, such as the P-17, do you write a or an before the aircraft type. Ex. "...was the pilot of a/an P-17 aircraft." – from Arlington, Va. on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. ... a P-17 aircraft ...

Q. What is the difference in using nearly, barely, almost, (etc) when speaking about numerals? Ex. "The show had nearly/almost/barely 100 exhibitors." – from Lake Zurich, Ill. on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. It depends on the context. Almost or nearly 100 exhibitors suggests a satisfactory turnout. Barely 100 exhibitors implies a disappointing turnout or one short of expectations.

Q. Is it info graphic or infographic (one word or two)? – from Reston, Va. on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. It's one word, infographic.

Q. Endobetix received a U.S. patent for its %uFFFDpancreaticobiliary diversion device%uFFFD for use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Would you use quotation marks as I did above to specify the device that received a patent? – from , on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. You could enclose it in quotes as an unusual term. A follow-up sentence should briefly explain how the device works.

Q. Globes financial newspaper listed Fidmi Medical as the startup of the week Do I put startup of the week in exclamation marks? – from , on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. No exclamation marks! Probably no need for quotation (") marks, either.

Q. The news magazine program, "HOT Magazine in the North", featured several of the Trendlines Medical portfolio companies How do you write the name of a TV program? – from , on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. The name is enclosed in quotes. See "television program titles" entry for elaboration.

Q. The Korean Agriculture Ministry invited Trendlines Agtech , one of 15 Israeli companies, to exhibit at the sixth International AgriBio Expo in Seoul, South Korea. If I have 1 and 15 in the same sentence, do I spell 1 out and write 15 in numerals? – from , on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. Correct. But the reference isn't clear. One of 15 Israeli companies doing what?

Q. How do you write the phrase "red herring" (meaning the first prospectus on a company's IPO)? Do you use inverted commas or just write the word in lower case without changing anything? Also, how does one write the name of an online publication, e.g. The company was featured in the September issue of Informilo Thanks! – from , Jerusalem on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

A. ... a preliminary prospectus, or red herring, was issued in advance of the IPO.

Q. Would War on Drugs be in quotations? – from Santa Cruz, Calif. on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. In AP stories, war on drugs is lowercase and not enclosed in quotes.

Q. I checked several entries but couldn't find an exact answer to this: Do you spell out dollar amounts at the beginning of a sentence? I have it starting a quote, and it looks odd both ways (as $15 million and spelled out as Fifteen million dollars). Which way is correct? %uFFFD$15 million is still a significant investment for us.%uFFFD – from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. With the exception of years - e.g., 2015 -- spell out numerals starting a sentence. Another option is to reword the sentence so that $15 million falls within the text.

Q. AP's "transgender" entry clearly recommends use of a transgender individual's preferred pronoun. Recently, the subject of a story expressed a strong preference for "they." Even though singular "they" is bad grammar, is it acceptable (or even readable) in this context? And, if so, what about verb agreement? – from Salt Lake City on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. In such cases, if relevant to the news, an AP story might note that the individual expressed a preference for "they" as a personal pronoun. In follow-ups, the story might then use the individual's surname to avoid grammar or preference issues.

Q. My company often uses "mini" in our marketing materials as part of a 3-word phrase. One example: "Put a mini loan officer in your wallet" (advertising for a credit card). What is AP standard when using "mini" with a 3-word phrase? (The phrase cannot be recast.) – from Costa Mesa, Calif. on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. The Stylebook's "mini" entry says terms formed with the prefix are generally written without a hyphen. Thus, miniloan officer

Q. Which sentence is correct? The backup system failed. In the end, the newspaper's digital inventory of 15 years of stories and 7 years of photojournalism were gone forever. The backup system failed. In the end, the newspaper's digital inventory of 15 years of stories and seven years of photojournalism were gone forever. My colleague said he thought 7 should be a numeral so it fits with the 15 otherwise it might throw off the reader. I think it should be spelled out. What does AP say? – from Columbia, Mo. on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. AP would spell out seven in this sentence using the under 10 guidance. Also, for correct subject-verb agreement, inventory takes the singular verb was.

Q. Is it Safe Harbor Agreement, safe harbor agreement or Safe Harbor agreement? – from New York on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. The generic term is safe harbor agreement, which includes such topics as digital data and wildlife conservation.

Q. ETS is the military acronym for End of Tour of Service, so would End of Tour of Service be capitalized? – from Stafford, Va. on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. Lowercase the full term. The abbreviation could be used in follow-ups, particularly for readers who may have experienced the glorious day.

Q. Your entry on dog sledding says to refer to Webster's two-word spelling. However, Webster's website has it as one word, dogsled. Can you update your entry accordingly? – from St. Paul, Minn. on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

A. Mushing on with dog sled, two words, the primary entry in Webster's NWCD, Fifth, the printed edition.

Q. What's the correct usage for the hyphen in this example, and why? "six to nine months prior" vs. "six-to-nine months prior" – from Rolling Meadows, Ill. on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. ... six to nine months prior ... Not compound modifiers so don't hyphenate.

Q. Should than be lowercase in a headline? Or uppercase? – from Rosemead, Calif. on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. In an AP headline, the first word and proper nouns or names are capitalized. So than is lowercase. Other headline styles capitalize main words, which could include than.

Q. Should it be mac and cheese or mac-and-cheese? Ie. The person became angry over being denied mac and cheese. His mac-and-cheese quest ended with an arrest. – from NY on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. It's not hyphenated in online uses, such as recipes.

Q. When listing bullet point entries, do you capitalize the second part of a hyphenated word? For example: Each course is: - Self-Paced. - Fully facilitated. - 10 hours long. In this instance, should the first entry be "Self-Paced" or "Self-paced"? Thanks. – from Buffalo, N.Y. on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. Lowercase paced. Also, spell out ten as the first word in the bullet point.

Q. For dosages measured in tablets, capsules, or packets, would you recommend we use numerals or spell out numbers less than 10? Examples: Take two to four tablets twice daily. Take the contents of one packet twice daily. – from Milwaukee on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. Spell figures under 10 in this context.

Q. Is it "finely grained sandpaper," "fine-grained sandpaper" or "fine-grain sandpaper"? The fate of thousands of do-it-yourselfers hangs in the balance! – from Chicago on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. In online retail ads, fine grain or, for example, 220 grit fine advanced sanding sheets.

Q. Is energy-efficient always hyphenated as in "the house was energy-efficient" and as a modifier, the "energy-efficient house?" Thanks. – from Rosemead, Calif. on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. Correct by the dictionary spelling of the modifier.

Q. I just started working at a military school. For the first six weeks cadets are here they are referred to as "New Boys." Once they graduate from this training they are "Old Boys" for the rest of their lives. Should we use quotations and/or capitalization? – from Salina, Kan. on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. The school website uses New Boy and Old Boy without quotes.

Q. When using the name of an organization that is typically named by its acronym, it feels awkward to not include "the" prior to the full name, but normal with the acronym. For example: "The National Precast Concrete Association conducted a study ..." feels awkward without "the" leading the sentence. "NPCA conducted a study ..." feels right without "the." Which use is correct? – from Carmel, Ind. on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. NPCA is an abbreviation, rather than an acronym, which is a word formed from the first letters of the term. Use an article with the full name or the abbreviation in most instances.

Q. How does AP write the following in a singular reference: headquarter or headquarters? – from Atlanta on Tue, Oct 06, 2015

A. The Stylebook spelling of the noun is headquarters for both singular and plural uses.

Q. Are the hyphens needed in "a digital-service-enabled experience"? – from san francisco, Calif. on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. No, and it reads like jargon. Try rephrasing: a feature of digital service.

Q. Would you use a hyphen in this instance? "He grew up in south-central Indiana." – from Elkhart, Ind. on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. Yes.

Q. There's a new sport fad called spikeball. Do we capitalize or keep it lower case? A member was asking. I see that it's registered trademark as well. – from Seattle on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. Better capitalize it as a trademark novelty game.

Q. Your "Chamber of Commerce" rule reads: "U.S. Chamber of Commerce: On second reference, the Chamber is acceptable. Lowercase when referring to a local chamber of commerce: the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, but the chamber on second reference." Wouldn't the Seattle chamber, in relation to the U.S. chamber, be considered a "local chamber of commerce," and if so, why isn't it lowercase in the example presented? – from Arlington, Va. on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. Capitalize Chamber in follow-ups to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meaning the national-level organization. For local groups, use the capitalized formal name on first reference, the chamber (lowercase) in follow-ups.

Q. When expressing a range of amount, is it "$500%uFFFD750" or $500%uFFFD$750"? Thanks. – from Ellicott City, MD on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. By the "range" entry, $500 to $750. The hyphenated version with dollar signs is also acceptable.

Q. Do you need to use the modifier "former" or something similar when referring to an erstwhile nation? Example: The couple emigrated from Czechoslovakia and are now living in Ohio. We lack further information that would allow us to say Czech Republic or Slovakia specifically. – from Cleveland, Ohio on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. Lacking the year of emigration or other details, the former Czechoslovakia looks right in this case, assuming that fact can be attributed.

Q. Sometimes verb forms of trademarks appear in quotations. 2012 and 2014 Ask the Editor entries say to lowercase "tased" in a quotation, but between those, a 2013 entry says to uppercase "Photoshopped." Taser style entry also says to lowercase. Is a standard for all trademarks established? – from St. Paul, Minn. on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. The company website objects to verb or noun forms of the trademark name Photoshop. Hence, better to confine photoshopped (lowercase) to direct quotes only. So it's case-by-case on usages of other trademarks

Q. Maybe I'm just missing it in the numerals entry, but I'm not seeing anything that would address my question. What would you do here? Would you keep to rule about spelling out numbers under 10? There's one instance here of "7 in 10" and another "3 in 5" so what's the best way to handle it? %uFFFDAbout three-quarters of consumers say ..., and 7 in 10 say they%uFFFDre more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally sourced ingredients over one that doesn%uFFFDt,%uFFFD Stensson says. %uFFFDIn addition, 3 in 5 consumers say availability..." – from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. Use figures for ratios. The model is 1 in 4 voters in the "numerals" and "ratios" examples.

Q. "Most answers aren't one-size-fits-all." Without rewording, are the hyphens correct? Thank you! – from Mount Prospect, Ill. on Mon, Oct 05, 2015

A. The American Heritage Dictionary hyphenates this adjective.

Q. When referring to Vetrans' Affairs as an abbreviation is it the VA or just VA. an example should it be%uFFFDEmotions ran high at the hearing as advocates for veterans strongly disagreed with representatives of the VA on the way veterans' claims are processed, and on the efficacy of two bills that the committee is considering%uFFFDS.901 and S.681%uFFFDwhich the veterans' organizations strongly support. Or should it be%uFFFDEmotions ran high at the hearing as advocates for veterans strongly disagreed with representatives of VA on the way veterans' claims are processed, and on the efficacy of two bills that the committee is considering%uFFFDS.901 and S.681%uFFFDwhich the veterans' organizations strongly support. – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Sun, Oct 04, 2015

A. It depends on the formulation. A recent AP story reported: VA Secretary Robert McDonald has denied that he or anyone else at VA had hidden or downplayed its budget problems. He said the VA is facing a crisis because of a sharp increase in demand for health care.

Q. In formal business letter writing, should the recipient's name include a suffix where applicable? Or should it be left off (i.e. Dear Mr. John Smith II or Dear Mr. John Smith). – from Fort Collins, Colo. on Sun, Oct 04, 2015

A. The notation II is rarely used in a salutation. The usual form: Dear Mr. Smith,

Q. In our local newspaper, Times Record, Fort Smith, AR, changes in editorial habits have caused the words Lord and Savior to be printed in lowercase in obituaries in which the client and funeral home have capitalized these words. The editor's response to queries has been, 'We are just following the AP standards.' I have searched pages: 40, 467, 480, 478, 29 114 of AP Sylebook to no avail. I have read page 470 under "Jesus". Are you asserting that the word savior is a personal pronoun? NV – from Fort Smith, Ark.omment: In our local newspaper, Ti on Sat, Oct 03, 2015

A. In references to God or Jesus, capitalize L in the Lord. The Stylebook reference is "A.D.," meaning the year of the Lord. The Stylebook spells savior lowercase in all references. See "Jesus" entry in the Religion Guidelines.

Q. It is GOP Establishment, or GOP establishment? – from Belleair Bluffs, Fla. on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. It's lowercase establishment.

Q. When using a range of numbers in a sentence, is the rule of spelling out 1-9 omitted? (i.e. It happened for about 5-10 seconds.) – from Liverpool, N.Y. on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. As a time range, about 5-10 seconds.

Q. Hi there, I just looked up "tourbillon" because in a watch article I'm proofing they capitalize it, and the WNWCD lists it as tourbillion. I think this is a spelling error. Is it possible you can fix your entry? See below. Thank you! Webster's New World College Dictionary results: not favorite tourbillion (Source: Webster's New World College Dictionary) – from Belleville, XX on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. The watch brand name Tourbillon is capitalized. The common noun tourbillion, meaning whirlwind, derived from the French tourbillon, is lowercase. AP defers to the dictionary entry because it's not a Stylebook term.

Q. For clarification of earthquake magnitude. Is the hyphen used both in writing a 6.7-magnitude earthquake hit and when writing a magnitude-6.7 earthquake hit. Is one or the other preferred as to the placement of the word magnitude. I realize no hyphen when not used as a modifier (the earthquake registered at 6.7 magnitude or magnitude 6.7) And if there is a range mentioned -- would it be written as: in the event of a magnitude-7 to 7.9 earthquake. Or magnitude-7-7.9? I think I like the word to better, otherwise, too many hyphens. – from New Jersey on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. Suggested rephrase to avoid hyphenitis: in the event of an earthquake of magnitude 7 to 7.9, ...

Q. In the phrase "more than 60-year-old policy" (as in the policy has existed for more than 60 years), should "more than" also be hyphenated: "more-than-60-year-old policy"? – from Washington on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. ... more than 60-year-old policy. Or, policy for over 60 years.

Q. Do you capitalize the second half of a hyphenated word when it appears in a headline or title? e.g., Best-Selling Author or Best-selling Author – from Salt Lake City on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. Usually capitalized in a title, such as the name of a book or song. Headlines depend on the publication's style -- all-caps or a mixture. In an AP headline, assuming the term starts the headline in a news story: Best-selling author ...

Q. For unique course titles, is the second part of a hyphenated word capitalized? For example, is it Learning-Focused Feedback or Learning-focused Feedback? – from Dallas on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. Likely capitalized in a course title by the school or organization.

Q. "His personality shined through" or "His personality shone through" Which is correct? – from , on Fri, Oct 02, 2015

A. The first.

Q. You've written that "first responder" generally isn't hyphenated in AP stories. Does that apply to the term's use as an adjective as well as its use as a noun? Thanks. Q. Is it first responders or first-responders? Example: "First responders comprised 10 of the dead." from Salina, Kan. on Apr 19, 2013 A. Generally not hyphenated in AP stories. – from Richardson, Texas on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. Yes.

Q. What do you do with "in training"? For instance, The company brought six dogs in training to the event. Would it be dogs-in-training? dogs in training? dogs in-training (seems weird)? We paraphrase when we can but sometimes it's not possible. Thoughts? – from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. The company brought six dogs in training to the event.

Q. Does AP have a style on the use of surnames when you're identifying parents and children? How would you handle this? Would you just use the first name, or would you say Ann Smith? Julie Smith is the most popular kid in her school. %uFFFDShe's a wonderful, active, friendly child," says her mother, Ann. – from Shepard, Indiana on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. From the "names" entry: When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, generally use the first and last name ... In stories involving juveniles, generally refer to them on second reference by surname if they are 16 or older and by first name if they are 15 or younger.

Q. Can QR code and 2-D barcode be used interchangeably and if not is one preferred over the other? QR seems to have become part of the vernacular but I have read that it refers to a specific type of 2-D barcode (similar situation to common use of Kleenex to refer to all tissues). – from Oshkosh, Wis. on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. Generally written QR code and two-dimensional bar code. A technical reference book should have the answer to your questions about interchangeability and preference.

Q. Is it acceptable to use the acronym CF for cystic fibrosis on second reference? – from Atlanta on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. The abbreviation may be used in headlines when space is tight. Otherwise, AP tends to spell out cystic fibrosis within news stories.

Q. How would AP handle #2s? Garmin and Nike as distant #2s in terms of current ownership. – from St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. ... distant No. 2s ... or, a distant second ...

Q. Which is correct as a heading on our city website: "Parks Rentals" or "Park Rentals"? There are multiple parks available to be rented, but I believe a singular adjective should be used, ala "freshman team" rather than "freshmen team". Right? – from Wylie, Texas on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. Either spelling. Alternatively, rent a park.

Q. In discussing a Proposal to be on the state ballot, is Proposal Three or Proposal 3? – from Littleton, Colo. on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

A. Use the official name as printed on the ballot.

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