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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. How does AP decide when a city should be upgraded to stand-alone status in a listing or dateline? I thought population was a factor? Austin, Texas, is now so large and widely known that it seems as if it could be ready. Will you consider? – from Austin, Texas on Tue, Aug 04, 2015

A. Because AP stories are transmitted globally, the recognition factor abroad for a U.S. city name is an important consideration. Most international datelines include the country name, but North American datelines do not.

Q. Is Kevlar capitalized in reference to military member wears a kevlar vest. – from Fort Belvoir, Va. on Tue, Aug 04, 2015

A. Correct for the trademark name.

Q. At work we have been discussing how more and more stories seem to be showing up using the firefighters' term "wild land fires" rather than "wildfires." Does AP have a rule on which of these two terms is preferable? – from Austin, Texas on Tue, Aug 04, 2015

A. Authorities sometimes used wildland in that connection, so it occasionally appears in AP stories on wildfires, which is still the more common term.

Q. Should youth or youths be used for the plural form? – from Elk Grove Village, Ill. on Tue, Aug 04, 2015

A. Generally youths is the plural spelling.

Q. What about for kilometers? 4-km-wide buffer zone? Thanks again – from Seoul, XX on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. See "kilometer" entry.

Q. If I've already used meter to refer to a distance earlier in an article, and am using meter again for a different figure, would the following be correct -- a 400-m-wide buffer zone? Thank you – from Seoul, XX on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. AP doesn't abbreviate meter. It should be a 400-meter-wide buffer zone.

Q. Does AP write 75th year or seventy-fifth year? – from Denver on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. Use figures for ordinals 10th and higher: 75th year.

Q. Would AP put a hyphen between media and scape to form the word media-scape? Or would AP say media landscape? – from Denver on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. I don't find the term used in AP news stories of recent years. Go with media landscape, which should be clearer in any case.

Q. Hello, I am creating a book, a presale guide for health care plans, and we have four dividers included. If we need the pages to be numbered, then are the dividers included? I would think not since they do not contain any information. Thank you. Christy Lambrecht – from OWINGS MILLS, MD on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. Assuming the dividers are blank, they wouldn't be numbered.

Q. When introducing someone as the "season one winner" of a television show, would "season one" be hyphenated? Such as, "season-one winner John Smith"? – from Midsouth on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. No hyphen needed in season one winner.

Q. In a dollar range such as $10-50 billion,should there be a second dollar sign: $10-$50 billion? – from Dallas on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. For clarity of the range, it's $10 billion to $50 billion. See the "billions, millions" entry.

Q. "Chicago-style deep dish pizza" or "Chicago-style deep-dish pizza"? – from Chicago on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. Probably the second, though from your Chicago address you should be able to determine the Windy City usage.

Q. Should this phrase be "As I listened to each of the winner%uFFFDs stories" or "As I listened to each of the winners' stories". Thank you. – from Woodstock, Ga. on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. ... each of the winner's stories ...

Q. When you indent a long quotation, are quotation marks necessary? – from Raleigh, N.C. on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. Generally yes. But see the "quotation marks" entry for details.

Q. We're posting a list of businesses and individual donors in a program. How should they be alphabetized? Still by last name and business name? – from , San Diego on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. That makes sense.

Q. In response to a question about hyphenation, you recently said the following sentence is correct: "Our product inventory includes all your favorites -- iced coffees, fresh-brewed teas, espressos and lattes." But I'm guessing that "fresh-brewed" is meant to describe not only the teas, but also the espressos and lattes. So would it be better to have an "and" after "iced coffees" instead of the comma? – from Arlington, Va. on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. Sure, you could do that.

Q. Is it moonbounce, moon-bounce or moon bounce for the popular kids' inflatable attractions. – from Waldorf, MD on Mon, Aug 03, 2015

A. It doesn't show in recent AP news archives. Check the preferred spelling online.

Q. Michelin Guides or Michelin guides to refer collectively to the different regional versions of this guide to the world's best restaurants? – from Tokyo on Sun, Aug 02, 2015

A. Check the company website. If the term isn't shown, lowercase guides following "capitalization" guidance on plurals of common nouns in names.

Q. I have two examples of EN-dashes in military designations, and I couldn't find any rulings or examples in the stylebook. I'll copy this sentence from an Army news release, and you'll see the two terms. Is there a way AP would render this, or would we just go with how the Army wrote it? The sentence: Maj. Gen. James Rainey assumed command of the U.S. National Support Element %uFFFD Afghanistan and duties as the U.S. Forces Afghanistan, Deputy Commanding General - Support from Maj. Gen. Mike Murray during a change of command ceremony today. – from Hinesville , Ga. on Sun, Aug 02, 2015

A. Military ranks are capitalized only when directly preceding a full name. Also, AP would use a hyphen without spaces for the terms: Maj. Gen. James Rainey assumed command of the U.S. National Support Element-Afghanistan and duties as the U.S. Forces Afghanistan, deputy commanding general-support, from Maj. Gen. Mike Murray during a change of command ceremony today.

Q. If someone is referencing a (hypothetical) hashtag in a spoken quote, should we spell out "hashtag" or use the number symbol. E.g., %uFFFDWe always say, %uFFFDhash tag: the struggle is real,%uFFFD because it is. Should it be #thestruggleisreal, or written as it was spoken. #firstworldeditorproblems – from East Northport, N.Y. on Sun, Aug 02, 2015

A. See the "hashtag" entry, which allows the symbol.

Q. Regarding the hyphenation rules for compound modifiers preceding nouns, the stylebook entry quite clearly says, "use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in -ly." But many answers here state that if leaving out the hyphen would not cause confusion, then leave it out. Which rule prevails? – from Jamaica Plain, MA on Sat, Aug 01, 2015

A. Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. Use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense. But the fewer hyphens the better; use them only when not using them causes confusion.

Q. Kris Taylor has been patient long enough. OR Kris Taylor has been patient for long enough. – from seattle, Wash. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Generally the first is used in casual speech.

Q. Hello - The company I work for produces instructional materials for teachers. I frequently come across instructions to the teacher to have the kids say things. My question is, would the following sentence need a comma after "say" since it's an instruction and not someone speaking? Here it is: Encourage your hiding child to pop up and say "Here I am!" The manuscript has a comma, but I'm thinking a comma here and in similar sentences isn't necessary. Thanks for the help! – from Loveland, Colo. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Use a comma to introduce a complete one-sentence quotation within a paragraph. Though short, your quote is a complete sentence.

Q. For percent ranges, you have two different examples. Underneath percent, you have the use of "to," "12 to 15 percent." But under ranges, you have a hyphen, "12-15 percent." Which one is right? – from Seattle on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Both are correct.

Q. Is it crowd-funded or crowdfunded, the latter following AP's rule on crowdsourced. – from new york, n.y. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. While not in the AP Stylebook, crowdfunding is generally used in AP stories. By that model, crowdfunded would be the choice.

Q. Is it live streaming or live-streaming as either noun or verb. – from new york, n.y. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Generally hyphenated as live-stream or live-streaming in AP stories.

Q. I know AP does not use brackets, but whether it's brackets or parenthesis, when using a quote and the person uses an acronym that may not be familiar to all readers, do you keep the acronym and spell out the organization, item, whatever is mentioned following the acronym or do you delete the acronym and replace it with the full name in brackets/parenthesis to indicate this is replacing something. Same thing for when you are replacing a pronoun -- do you keep the he/she/it or just replace with the name? "When I was driving down the road it (the deer) ran out of the woods..." or "When I was driving down the road (the deer) ran out of the words." Thanks! – from New Jersey on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. A quote shouldn't be altered. If an acronym or abbreviation is involved, spell out the name following the quote. Same for pronouns. See "parentheses" entry for elaboration.

Q. Would you keep the comma after in-depth in the following sentence? The journalist will use either client data or complete at least several hours of in-depth, original research. – from Orlando, Fla. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Yes.

Q. How do we treat "lay," as in layman or layperson, for similar uses not in the dictionary? You did not answer the question last time. Example: "Lay public." Such misuses may appear in a quotation and have to be used. – from St. Paul, Minn. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. The dictionary lists lay (adj.) for laity or nonprofessional people, so the lay public is correct if somewhat unusual or dated.

Q. Is the sentence below correct? Or, should it be fresh brewed rather than fresh-brewed. Our product inventory includes all your favorites %uFFFD iced coffees, fresh-brewed teas, espressos and lattes. – from Charlotte, N.C. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. if a company name is all lowercase, for example esri or tvsdesign, should you capitalize the first letter at the beginning of a sentence or at anytime when referring to it? – from thornton, Pa. on Fri, Jul 31, 2015

A. Yes, see "company names" for elaboration.

Q. Stove-top or stovetop? Webster's New World College Dictionary uses the hyphen, but the AP Stylebook's entry for "saute, sauteed, sauteing" includes "stovetop" as one word. – from Los Angeles, California on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. We favor stovetop as one word.

Q. Does Taliban take a singular or plural verb? – from Reading, Pa. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. Taliban normally takes plural verb in AP stories, as in: The Taliban have fled the Pakistani army's advance.

Q. Hello. I noticed a typo on this page: Home > Webster's New World College Dictionary > Chapter M > -making -making (m?k%uFFFDi?) comnining form forming adjectives[Chiefly Brit.] creating a (specified) state or condition [shy-making, angry-making] comnining form forming adjectives ==> combining also, it seems a "for" is missing combining form FOR forming adjectives – from San Francisco on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. My online version seems to have fixed the issue: -making (m%u0101k´i%u014B) Chiefly Brit. creating a (specified) state or condition [shy-making, angry-making]

Q. The AP style rule is "adviser," not "advisor." However, what do we do when an individual uses "advisor" as part of his or her official title at a company or organization? – from West Sacramento, Calif. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. If it's a formal title conferred by the company, use the "or" spelling.

Q. How do we treat "lay," as in layman or layperson, for similar uses not in the dictionary? – from St. Paul, Minn. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. The dictionary spellings are layman and layperson, referring to someone who isn't a member of the clergy or a nonprofessional person.

Q. Would you hyphenate "live online course"? Along the same lines, which is better: "a live, online training" or "a live online training"? – from san francisco, Calif. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. Perhaps better phrased as a course live online, or training live online.

Q. Is it correct to say "she holds a bachelor's degree" or "she earned a bachelor's degree" or does it matter? – from springfield, Ill. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. Both are acceptable with the field of study included. She earned a bachelor's degree in Russian history. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting.

Q. How do you spell "bench mark" when used as a noun (one word or two?) Also, how is it punctuated when used as an adjective, as in "bench-marking report"? And is it correct to use a gerund form (benchmarking)? Thanks! – from Reston, Va. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. Webster's NWCD, Fifth Edition, says bench mark (two words) is a standard or point of reference in judging quality, value, etc. The noun is often written benchmark, the dictionary says. As an adjective it's benchmark report

Q. Should it be "human resource professionals" or "human resources professionals" in the following sentence: "This annual seminar, geared toward employers, managers, human resource professionals" ... – from , on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. Generally written as human resources professionals.

Q. Would you write 9-months or nine-months? – from , Washington on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. It's nine months. Hyphenate only as a modifier: nine-month limit.

Q. How do you handle Frist Names or nicknames within a quote? For example, if I'm writing a story about Jim Perry and a coworker is quoted as saying, "We couldn't get anything done without Jim's assistance" or "Jimmy just has a great attitude." – from Powhatan, Va. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. If Jim Perry has been named earlier in the text, both quotes are clear. If not, add his name after the attribution: We couldn't get anything done without Jim's assistance," she said, referring to office manager Jim Perry.

Q. Does AP have a preference/rule about indenting (or not) the first paragraph of an article? Some publications seem to indent all new paragraphs and others indent all new paragraphs except the first one. Thanks! – from Albany, N.Y. on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

A. Paragraphs of AP news stories are indented three spaces.

Q. Singular or plural? "It is a story that shows how the work we accomplish, and the people who help us, improve(improves) our environment." Thanks. – from Clemmons , N.C. on Wed, Jul 29, 2015

A. ... the work ... improves ...

Q. Is it service-dog or service dog? – from Herndon, Va. on Wed, Jul 29, 2015

A. No hyphen in service dog.

Q. Should the word subregion be written as "subregion" or "sub-region?" – from Boston on Wed, Jul 29, 2015

A. No hyphen in subregion.

Q. Should Health Care Providers (in the general sense) be capitalized? – from Middletown, N.J. on Wed, Jul 29, 2015

A. The generic term is lowercase: health care providers.

Q. Is the Asian hot sauce sriracha capped? When I did a Web search it doesn't look like a name brand but I'm not sure. – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Wed, Jul 29, 2015

A. The Stylebook caps Sriracha in the Food Guidelines for the city in Thailand where the hot sauce originated.

Q. The event to be held in Beijing on Friday or the event in Beijing on Friday -- Does the addition of 'to be held' change anything and is one way preferred over the other? – from Virginia, XX on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. The first phrasing emphasizes the future; the second phrasing is terser. One might be more appropriate than the other depending on the context.

Q. When 'hour by hour' stands alone, as in -- We watched hour by hour for him to come home -- would it by hyphenated? – from Chicago on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. No hyphens as used in your example.

Q. In a person's company bio, he is a writer "at" ABC Company,or he is a writer "for" ABC Company? Thanks. – from Greenwood Village, Colo. on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. Referring to a full-fledged employee, a writer for ABC Co.

Q. For someone who works at a pizzeria and makes pizzas, is he a pizza maker or pizza-maker? e.g. Joe Smith, a pizza maker (pizza-maker) at XYZ Pizzeria, rolls out pizza dough. – from New Jersey on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. Based on the Stylebook's "-maker" entry guidance, he's a pizza-maker.

Q. So if it's in a quote, highly pathogenic avian influenza should be lowercase and if the scientist refers to HPAI, that would be appropriate too? Just use bird flu for unquoted information, right? – from , on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. The entry for "bird flu" suggests that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza would be all lowercase. Is that correct and would that mean HPAI should never be abbreviated? – from Mississippi State, Miss. on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. That bird flu entry says that term is preferred to avian influenza, and gives examples of virus abbreviations. So bird flu is recommended over term you list and its abbreviation.

Q. How would you suggest I approach the large-scale farms known as "concentrated animal feeding operations"? Should the first letter of each word be capitalized, given that it's an EPA designation? Is it acceptable to use CAFO on second reference? – from Madison, Wis. on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. AP stories generally use animal feedlots for these operations, specifying the sizes. I don't find the bureaucratic term, or the abbreviation, in our news archives, though may have been used in some references.

Q. I wanted to follow up on my question concerning diameter and millimeter. At my company we follow the AP guidelines for all things related to website, product flyers and press releases. Since our computer systems can handle the diameter symbol and the symbol is necessary on our product flyers, how should we use the symbol? Once at the beginning of a range or on both sides of the spectrum? – from Leesburg, Va. on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. Probably once at the beginning, but check your industry's standard references for the customary placement.

Q. How should quotation marks be used, if at all, to set apart a word? For instance, in the following example, should the word percent be enclosed by single quotations, double quotations, or no quotations? Spell out the word %uFFFD%uFFFDpercent%uFFFD%uFFFD rather than using the percent symbol. Can you please point me to where this answer can be found online or in the stylebook? – from Denver on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. Quotes around single words are used for unfamiliar terms, such as foreign language words, or to indicate irony. Occasionally, a common term is enclosed for emphasis. But it's probably not needed in this situation. Enclosing it might even imply that the term is always enclosed.

Q. Another agreement conundrum: "A group of seniors has/have formed its/their own organization..." Is this determined by "group" or by "seniors"? – from Harrisburg, Pa. on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. The sentence subject is group, a collective noun that takes a singular verb and pronoun. If it seems awkward, rephrase making seniors the subject, a la: Seniors in a group have formed their own organization.

Q. I have a question concerning AP style when typing ranges of millimeters where diameter is concerned. For something like this should it be %uFFFD4.5 %uFFFD 8.5 mm or %uFFFD4.5 %uFFFD %uFFFD8.5 mm ? What should we do when we have the &/and? mm after both or just the second one? What about the diameter symbol? In front of both or only the first one? ex: %uFFFD4.5 mm & 4.7 mm or %uFFFD4.5 mm & %uFFFD4.7 mm – from Leesburg, Va. on Tue, Jul 28, 2015

A. AP wouldn't use a diameter symbol in a news story. Computer systems couldn't handle it. For weapons or film, we'd abbreviate millimeter: 4.5 mm to 8.5 mm in diameter. Otherwise, we'd write out millimeter on first reference: 4.5 millimeters to 8.5 millimeters in diameter. Our use of ampersand it very limited, per the Stylebook entry. Instead, write out the conjunction if used in this range.

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