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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've read the AP "cyber" entry. However, I'm asking specifically is it "cyberthreat" or "cyber threat" – from Rockford, Ill. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Sticking with recommendation of the one-word spelling from previous Q&A's at this site. Admittedly, not all news stories adhere.

Q. Has AP changed its rule on punctuation outside quotation marks to be more logical? (i.e., The word meant "harsh", not "flexible".) The rule regarding punctuation usage in quoted statements remains the same, i.e., James said, "I am happy to clarify the meaning of the word." – from Westminster, MD on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Commas and periods are placed within quotes, per guidance in the Stylebook's Punctuation Guide.

Q. Does the "word" Brexit stand on its own, or must it be enclosed in quotation marks? Thanks – from Flagstaff, Ariz. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. The shorthand term for Britain's referendum on EU membership is written various ways in AP stories: the so-called Brexit, the "Brexit" vote and Brexit without qualifiers.

Q. Should central be capitalized in central New York? – from Syracuse, N.Y. on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. It's central New York state referring to the region.

Q. Would you please reconsider your response to this question? It's not always possible to do as you suggest. For example, in reporting on a survey, we don't want to keep saying "people on the verge of retirement" over and over as we report results, when "preretirees or pre-retirees" describes the group in fewer words. Here's original question and your answer Q. I'm having trouble finding information on whether or not "pre" and "retirees" should be hyphenated (pre-retirees or preretiree?). Which would you suggest? %uFFFF on Tue, Apr 07, 2015 A. Better avoid this odd term, which isn't in the dictionary. Instead, a person nearing retirement or on the verge of retirement – from Clarksville, MD on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. Hyphenate pre-retirees.

Q. Would you capitalize the first letter of acronyms in mid sentence? i.e.: A diverse range of exhibitors from space; civil; defense; manufacturing technology; rotary; and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industries. Would it be capped Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul? – from San Diego on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. The three words are correctly spelled lowercase. Also, AP doesn't follow a term with an abbreviation in parentheses. However, without a verb, the sentence as written is a fragment. Use commas rather than semicolons for the individual items in the list.

Q. I know you would hyphenate "first-grade student," but what about "he is in first grade" ? Hyphenate? – from , on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. No hyphen in that usage. He is in first grade.

Q. Which is preferable between "role-playing game" and "roleplaying game"? How about "role-play" versus "roleplay," both in the context of games and non-games (e.g. therapy or learning activities)? – from Seoul, South Korea on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary spellings: role-player (n.); role-playing (n.); role-play (v.); role-playing game.

Q. Should it be "The City in London" or "the City in London"? – from New York on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. The article is lowercase unless starting the sentence.

Q. Is it correct to refer to Mrs. Clinton as Secy. Clinton? Thank you. – from , on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. She's former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We don't abbreviate the title.

Q. A few years ago, someone earned their J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. This year, the school was renamed the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Do I use the original or the new name of the school when referring to their alma mater? – from Chicago on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. Use the name at the time the degree was awarded, and add that Pritzker replaced University in the school's name in 2016.

Q. Would you help with proper spelling and punctuation of "day-glo?" As in "day-glo orange." Thank you! – from Lisle, Ill. on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. The generic adjective is day-glo. There's also a hyphenated trademark name with D and G in capital letters.

Q. I had submitted a comment, advocating dropping the use of the term "rust belt," in late May or early June. In the interim I had a week off and in addition our email addresses were all changed. So if you answered comment, I wouldn't have received it. Could you please resend, to "" ? Thanks. – from Corpus Christie, Texas on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. The term is so widely used in political contexts that it wouldn't make sense to drop it. It's also a dictionary entry, as well as a Stylebook listing.

Q. I have what is probably a simple question. I am wondering if, when sending a thank you note, one writes it on a note card or a notecard. My real question is why, when I searched 'note,' I couldn't find this. How should I have searched. Thank you. I'm new to the Stylebook. – from Washington Island, Wis. on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. When a term isn't in the AP Stylebook or covered in Ask the Editor, consult Webster's New World College Dictionary. In this case, the dictionary entry is notecard.

Q. So I am editing this article about the new movie soon to be in theaters, The BFG. And the writer refers to the giant as BFG as if that is his name, but I don't think so. I think his name is the Big Friendly Giant and the name of the movie is The BFG. I am trying to determine this because I am wondering if I should be putting BFG in quotation marks every time it is mentioned, whether it is the giant's name or the movie. – from Orysia McCabe, Middletown, N.Y. on Sun, Jun 26, 2016

A. AP stories give the film title as "The BFG" in quotes. The abbreviation is then spelled out for the character as The Big Friendly Giant. Follow-ups referring to the character could be the giant or the BFG.

Q. What is AP style for handling postal addresses? The U.S. Postal Service regulations say not to use commas or periods in addressing letters or packages. So, should we follow those guidelines when including mailing addresses in stories? – from Lewiston, Idaho on Sat, Jun 25, 2016

A. See "addresses" entry for use of periods with abbreviations, such as Ave. and St. with a numbered location. See "ZIP code" entry for an example using the state postal abbreviations listed in the "state names" entry.

Q. How should Hall of Fame be referred to in second reference? Lower case hall or upper case Hall? – from Corpus Christie, Texas on Sat, Jun 25, 2016

A. A nationally revered institution such as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., is the Hall on second reference. Others on a local or regional level would be the hall on follow-ups to the capitalized full name on first reference.

Q. Would I say "of varying size" or "of varying sizes" in a sentence like this? "Biotech and medical device companies of varying size..." Thank you! – from New York on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. Of varying sizes.

Q. When writing about a university that uses "The" as part of its name, is it proper to capitalize The in the middle of the sentence? Example: She earned her degree at The George Washington University. – from Allentown, Pa. on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. AP doesn't use the capitalized article in such names: She earned her degree at George Washington University.

Q. Is it acceptable to begin a sentence with "And"? – from Lafayette, Colo. on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. Yes, occasionally.

Q. Now that we're on the boring everyday internet instead of the sparkly exciting Internet, do smart homes use the internet of things, the internet of Things, or the Internet of Things? Thanks! – from Chicago on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. It's the internet of things by extension.

Q. Is this punctuated properly: mid-to-late summer? Thanks! – from New York, New York on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. Yes.

Q. RE: grassroots. Your last "Ask the Editor" answer to this was in 2012, and it's now 2016. Are we still using "grass-roots" instead of grassroots? – from Hagatna, Guam, Ala. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. The dictionary spellings are unchanged: grass roots (n.), grass-roots (adj.).

Q. Masters or Master of Jurisprudence – from Renton, Wash. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. A master's degree (or master's) in jurisprudence.

Q. Life-change or life change? Example: Get a tour, ask questions and hear stories of life-change. – from Grand Rapids, MI on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. AP stories don't hyphenate life change.

Q. I've researched AP Stylebook and have come to several conclusions, which have brought me to question all solutions. So, in a title, would all words be capitalized for "Side-By-Side Meetings" and "One-On-One Meetings?" Although "by" and "on" are less than four letters, they are part of a bigger phrase. Your guidance is greatly appreciated. – from Bloomington, Ill. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. These look like labels rather than composition titles, which are capitalized and enclosed in quotes. If you use an all-caps style, all the words could be capitalized. Alternatively, cap only the first word: Side-by-side meetings

Q. Should "smart manufacturing" be capitalized? – from Arizona, Ariz. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. The common term is spelled lowercase in AP usage.

Q. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards ( has a process for teachers to become certified. The organization's website refers to these teachers as National Board Certified Teachers (NCBTs). Would the capitalization be correct in all uses? Or would it be correct to say National Board certified teachers? – from Royal Oak, MI on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. AP stories often capitalize National Board Certified Teacher. If the plural is used, National Board Certified teachers. The abbreviation is avoided. In a shortened form, stories sometimes hyphenate and lowercase the modifier: a board-certified teacher.

Q. Your section on composition titles covers the use of Facebook (capitalized without quotes), but what about the names of Facebook pages? For example: The runner updates on her Facebook page, "Running Running." – from Omaha, Neb. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. Facebook page names are sometimes capitalized but not enclosed in quotes. Often a generic description spelled lowercase suffices. She updates her running page.

Q. Are you planning to publish topical guides on the Rio Olympics and the 2016 US election? – from Kansas City, Mo. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. Yes. In the works.

Q. We're getting a lot of questions on the "no fly/no buy" list. My thinking is that no-fly should be hyphenated, since there's already a no-fly list, but if there's not an actual "no-buy" list, the second one shouldn't be hyphenated. – from St. Paul, Minn. on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

A. AP stories refer to proposals to strengthen background checks and prevent people on the no-fly list from getting guns.

Q. Which is correct? " a helpful, cost-saving solution." or " a helpful, cost-savings solution." Thank you – from Brentwood, Tenn. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. The first.

Q. When someone uses the phonetic alphabet in a quotation, how does one handle it? Example: "...they"ll use our 88 Mike truck driver video." Should it be 88M or 88 Mike, since the military uses Mike to designate the letter M. – from New Market, MD on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. In a direct quote, render the words as spoken -- either 88 M or 88 Mike.

Q. After-hours' deliveries or after-hours deliveries? – from Portland, Ore. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary spelling: after-hours (adj.) modifying deliveries.

Q. Triathlete - Can you provide any guidance on usage of this term, which is used by the race industry? Should it be "triathlon athlete," or is "triathlete" acceptable. – from 28270, N.C. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. AP stories prefer triathlete for a competitor in a triathlon.

Q. In business writing, what is the correct spelling of the informal abbreviation used for "recommendation", reco or recco? – from Austin, Texas on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. I've never seen either form. AP uses recommendation.

Q. Does AP prefer combatting or combating? – from Gilbert, Ariz. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. The Stylebook spelling is combating.

Q. Just FYI, as of today you've corrected the entry names for "internet TV" and "internet radio," but the word "internet" is still capitalized in the body of these entries. Thanks – from Washington, D.C. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. Those spellings have been updated. Thank you.

Q. How would you capitalize/abbreviate the following: former general and president U.S. Grant; former General and President U.S. Grant; former Gen. and President U.S. Grant or something else entirely? – from Malone, N.Y. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. Civil War general and former President Ulysses S. Grant.

Q. When writing about articles in the Constitution, is it Article V? – from Monroe, Ga. on Wed, Jun 22, 2016

A. Correct.

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