Ask the Editor

Forgot your password? | Lost Username?

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.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Not a subscriber? AP Stylebook Online subscribers can:

  • View the entire archive -- 21,621 answered questions and counting!
  • Submit questions to Ask the Editor
  • Search the complete Ask the Editor archive
  • View listings by categories (such as abbreviations, capitalization, figures, numerals, titles, etc.)

Annual subscriptions start at $26/year for individuals. Subscribe now or learn more.

Ask the Editor questions from the past week:

Q. Do you italicize the name of an online-only news source, such as the Religion News Service? – from Spokane, Wash. on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. No. See "italics" entry.

Q. I am copy editing an article about a breed of dog I don't know Lagotto Romagnolo. I know Romagnolo should be capped. It is a region in Italy, but Lagotto is "lake dog." So should I lowercase Lagotto? – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. Not listed in the dictionary, so I'll defer to breed spelling list at the American Kennel Club website: Lagotto Romagnolo

Q. What is the opposite of enroll? Un-enroll? Unenroll? Disenroll? – from , on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. Got a dictionary handy? It's unenrolled in the "un" prefix listing.

Q. I think there was a misunderstanding of my question about cutlines. I'm not referring to ages. I was referring to jersey numbers. "So and so (15) goes to the basket as So and So (27)" defends or "So and so, left, scores as basket as so and so, right, defends." I could have sworn that in this case jersey numbers were set off with parentheses and directions were set off by commas. Is it commas for both? In the photo cutlines that I see on AP Exchange it is written in that way that jersey numbers are set off with parentheses and directions are set off with commas. – from Midland, Texas on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. OK, use parentheses for jersey numbers and use commas to set off the position in the photo.

Q. For the following phrase "marketing materials in both print and online formats" is "both print and online formats" the correct way to express this? I am not sure if "print" should be "printable" or "printed" and whether "formats" is the correct word in this situation. Thanks so much. – from WOODSTOCK, Ga. on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. Probably in both printed and online formats for the two distinct versions.

Q. I've checked the Ask the Editor archives but didn't find a listing for rig site or rigsite. Do you have a viewpoint? Energy industry publications (and the Society of Petroleum Engineers) are ambivalent. Same question for job site and well site. Thanks! – from Houston on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. AP stories generally use two words for each: rig site, job site and well site.

Q. What is the appropriate version for this headline? The Four D's of Diversification" OR "The Four Ds of Diversification" Thanks! – from University City, Mo. on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. The first because the plurals of single letters take apostrophes.

Q. I've reviewed the archive as well as the Stylebook and don't seem to find an answer to the question of when "the" should be capitalized in a title, such as in "The New York Times." I often see in articles an inconsistency with the word "the" in titles--sometimes capitalized and sometimes lowercase within the same article. Just wondering if there is a rule? – from North Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. Check the Stylebook's "newspaper names" entry for handling the definite article. The "composition titles" entry explains many other situations.

Q. Would I write 'supply-demand dynamics'? Or 'supply/demand dynamics' in a fiscal context? Thanks. – from London, England on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. Use the hyphenated spelling. The Stylebook's "slash" entry explains its very limited uses.

Q. Is this correct? "How about you to witness the glory of mountains?" Does this mean "How would you like to witness the glory of mountains?" Thanks – from Kathmandu, XX on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. The first sentence isn't clear. The second is phrased clearly.

Q. Is it patient identified data or patient-identified data (hyphen). Similarly, patient de-identified data or patient-de-identified data? – from New Delhi, XX on Mon, Mar 02, 2015

A. AP stories have occasionally used used the phrase patient identifying information. Does the second term mean that a patient's personal information is being withheld? If so, that would be clearer than using officialese.

Q. With the new state abbreviation rule, what do political party affiliations look like? Formerly, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; now . . . ? Sorry if this is somewhere and I missed it. Thanks. – from Trinidad, Calif. on Sun, Mar 01, 2015

A. Unchanged: Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. See "party affiliation" entry.

Q. How does the AP handle company and brand names with ampersands, like the grocer A & P, the television network A & E, or the aircraft maker B & F? Are they rendered with or without spaces (i.e., "A & P" or "A&P")? – from Columbia, S.C. on Sun, Mar 01, 2015

A. No spaces in A&P. See the "Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc." entry.

Q. Considering ... Q. What is the style on the word powwow from Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii on Aug 03, 2007 A. One word as you spelled it. However, proper names of some American Indian gatherings use two words, pow wow. ... When proper name is two words, how do you handle general references to the pow wow/powwow in the story when not part of the proper name? – from Oconto Falls, Wis. on Sun, Mar 01, 2015

A. See the "Native American" and "Indians" entries for the customary spelling.

Q. When using numbers to describe something, do we hyphenate? For example is it 120-room hotel or 120 room hotel? Likewise is it two-story building or two story building? – from Sharjah, XX on Sun, Mar 01, 2015

A. It's a 120-room hotel and a two-story building. The compound modifiers are hyphenated.

Q. I could have sworn that AP's style in sports cutlines was to separate numbers with parentheses and separate directions with commas. For example "Shallowater%uFFFDs Carlie Breckel (15) and Morgan Bennett (23) celebrate a win against Wall in the Region I-3A semifinal match Saturday at Chaparral Center" or "Idalou%uFFFDs Carli Fulcher, left, passes while being covered by Jim Ned%uFFFDs Savannah Heath, right, in the Region I-3A semifinal game Saturday at Chaparral Center." We recently had a discussion about this in our newsroom and I was looking for something on AP Stylebook, but I guess I didn't know where to look and I couldn't find it. Am I wrong that numbers should be set off with parentheses instead of commas? – from Midland, Texas on Sat, Feb 28, 2015

A. Use commas, not parentheses, to set off ages, e.g., 15, and positions, left to right, of individuals in photo captions. Models are in the Stylebook's Photo Captions chapter.

Q. How do I format a schedule of events in news? This would include location, times, and people to attend. – from Fort Meade, MD on Sat, Feb 28, 2015

A. AP calendar items often list event, time, date and place in that order.

Q. Communication technology or communications technology -- is one preferred over the other? Thanks – from Virginia, XX on Sat, Feb 28, 2015

A. Usually the plural is used.

Q. I've reviewed the archive and couldn't find the answers I was looking for regarding commas. Is the comma placement correct in these two sentences? "John Smith, of Myrtle Beach, was named father of the year." "It is located at 1234 Bird Ave., in Miami." Finally, I have a capitalization question that I've tried finding the answer to in the archive as well as the style book. When is "the" capitalized with a title. I often see within the same article, an entity beginning with "the" going from being capitalized and then lowercase, such as "The New York Times." – from North Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Sat, Feb 28, 2015

A. Correct as punctuated: John Smith, of Myrtle Beach, was named father of the year. It is located at 1234 Bird Ave., in Miami.

Q. In an ask the editor Q and A: Q. The Stylebook says do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in "s" when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: a Cincinnati Reds infielder. What about this: The Reds front office is the worst in baseball. Is that possessive or descriptive? If it's possessive, do you need the apostrophe? And what if you substituted "Red Sox" for Reds? Source: Ask the Editor A. The Reds' front office ... the Red Sox's front office. What is the difference between a Reds infielder and the Reds' front office? Would it be the Reds'right fielder? Thank you. – from st. paul, Minn. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. Use the possessive with an apostrophe: The Reds' front office is ... the Red Sox's front office. The definite article indicates possession: The Reds' right fielder.

Q. When referring to grades, does the plural form include an apostrophe (He received all A's and B's) or not (He received all As and Bs)? – from Kalamazoo, MI on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. For plurals of single letters, use apostrophe-s: He receieved all A's and B's. See "plurals" entry.

Q. I am confused by your response, below. Should I use the singular "kid's" with the plural "lives"?: Q. In an article about a children's hospital, would it be "Saving Kids Lives" or "Savings Kids' Lives"? In other words, would "kids" be descriptive or possessive in this case? %uFFFD from Towson, MD on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 A. In AP stories, the phrase is spelled as a possessive: saving kid's lives. Whether it's capitalized or enclosed in quotation marks depends on the usage. – from Towson, MD on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. Correction: I meant to write the plural possessive: saving kids' lives.

Q. Is it remote-control aircraft, or remote-controlled aircraft? – from Lewiston, Idaho on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. Generally it's remote control aircraft, though sometimes hyphenated as remote-controlled aircraft.

Q. I am quoting a news article that contains a quote within it. The complete paper quote is three short paragraphs, with P2 containing a quote from a story source. I used the multi-paragraph quote punctuation with open quotes on the end of graphs 1 and 2 BUT, we did not use the last part of the quote within the quote. Do I need an ellipsis there? It transitions directly back into the article from there. EX: "Newspaper verbiage from P1 here. (BREAK w/ open quote) "Newspaper verbiage P2 here 'Quote within the quote,' attribution here. (BREAK w/ open quote) (there was initially a second piece of quote here that we did not use so this is where I need to know proper punctuation) "Newspaper verbiage P3." – from Sparks, Nev. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. For the quote within, use a single quotation mark to open it and an ellipsis and single quote to end it. Then transition to the third paragraph of the complete quote, which is opened with double quotation marks.

Q. When do I capitalize the word union, when referring to t=an organization? ex. This is a win-win situation for both the hotel and the union (or Union). – from Orlando, Fla. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. ... for both the hotel and the union.

Q. What is the proper way to type the abbreviation of an Assembly Bill... AB20 AB 20 AB-20 – from Sun Prairie, Wis. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. AP stories from Wisconsin have occasionally used this format under a dash below the story: The Assembly bill is AB 590. More often a description of the Assembly bill within the story suffices without citing a number.

Q. RSVP vs R.S.V.P. An archived submission from 2006 states that you've taken the periods out of RSVP. However, a tagline states: "Note: This is an archived submission and is no longer be a current style guideline." Please interpret. What is the 2014-15 style guideline - periods or no periods? Our policy is to use the acronym as a noun only. Does this impact the punctuation? Thanks. – from Jacksonville, Fla. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. No periods in the abbreviation RSVP, per the Stylebook entry.

Q. How do you properly spell the word split-off (hyphenated or not)? This refers to reorganizing an existing corporate structure in which the stock of a business division, subsidiary or newly affiliated company is transferred to the stockholders of the parent company in exchange for stock in the latter. – from Radnor, Pa. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. In AP business stories, the noun is hyphenated: split-off. The verb is two words without a hyphen: split off, splitting off.

Q. What is AP style on entities that use all caps? Eg. the union UNITE-HERE. – from Washington on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. In AP stories from Atlantic City, it's the Unite-HERE casino workers' union.

Q. In Chapter Filing guidelines (, we are advised to always include "http://" when providing URLs. Should this style also be followed in editorial content? – from Chicago on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. The Stylebook's "Internet" entry states: When a story prominently mentions a specific website or Web service, include within the text the full Internet address with http:// and set it off with commas.

Q. How do you use warmup as an adjective? Warmup stretch? Warm-up exercise? – from Houston on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. The online Stylebook's Sports Guidelines lists warmup (n.) warm up (v.). The one-word spelling also works as a modifer.

Q. In an article about a children's hospital, would it be "Saving Kids Lives" or "Savings Kids' Lives"? In other words, would "kids" be descriptive or possessive in this case? – from Towson, MD on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. In AP stories, the phrase is spelled as a possessive: saving kid's lives. Whether it's capitalized or enclosed in quotation marks depends on the usage.

Q. How do you cite international publications? Halifax Chronicle Herald (Canada) ... or Halifax (N.S.) Chronicle Herald (Canada)? – from San Diego on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. The Chronicle Herald of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Q. For video game titles, should we use quotation marks (e.g. Call of Duty Xbox Tournament or Super Smash Bros)? – from Piscataway, N.J. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. Video game titles are enclosed in quotes.

Q. Is the comma needed in the below sentence, or can it be omitted because the subject is the same for each clause. He graduated from the school in Charleston, and currently is a member of its Foundation Board of Trustees – from gillespie, Ill. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. No comma when the subject is shared for both clauses.

Q. Why does the AP's online New World Dictionary not show suggested hyphenation? I often have to fix word splits from line to line in text. – from Chapel Hill, N.C. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. Please send an example so our tech guru can take a look.

Q. If used in a sentence this way (as a modifier): The Indiana Basketball Slam-Dunk Championship was held...Is slam dunk still not hyphenated? Thanks. – from Annapolis, MD on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. If it's hyphenated in the official name, probably you should use that spelling.

Q. Hello. Could you please clarify if this is correct? The word "do" would be lowercase in a composition title because it's less than four letters, unless it's the first or last word in the title. Thank you. – from Gainesville, Fla. on Fri, Feb 27, 2015

A. Primary words in composition titles are capitalized, including the verb do.

Q. I need to refer to specifically to "man-made" space objects in Earth's orbit, but have been advised to find a non-gender related term. I think this term is correct. Does AP have an alternate suggestion? – from Richmond, BC on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. Objects launched by humans in Earth orbit.

Q. Is pay-off hyphenated when I write, "I received your message requesting the final pay-off amount for your loan? But, do I not use a hyphen when I write, "To pay off your loan, please pay $X,XXX. – from San Antonio on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. ... the final payoff amount ... to pay off your loan ...

Q. Should the word "too" always be surrounded by commas because it will always be nonessential? For example, we believe in helping middle-distance runners, too. Another example: I, too, would like some ice cream. – from Portland, Ore. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. The adverb too for emphasis rarely needs to be set off, including in your two examples.

Q. What would the AP style be for indicating the location of a university, say Stanford. There is a unincorporated, census-designated place called Stanford, but the actual town where Stanford University if located is Palo Alto. So Stanford, Calif., or Palo Alto, Calif., for location of Stanford? Other large universities have the same quirk. – from Chicago on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. The Stanford University's website says that the university has its own ZIP code %u2014 94305 for Stanford, Calif. %u2014 but it calls the city of Palo Alto its home.

Q. Can you explain why in an article about the new video game "Risk" based on the board game Risk, the former requires quotation marks while the latter does not? We understand the rule but not the reasoning. And what about lesser-known board games? – from Salt Lake City on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. To differentiate between computer games and board games, the former are enclosed in quotes and the latter are capitalized but not enclosed. This applies to all such games. To avoid repetition, phrase it this way: The new video game "Risk" is based on the board game of that name.

Q. Is this a correct use of commas and parentheses: %uFFFDThere's a long-standing assumption, especially in the U.S., that cemeteries are creepy and depressing, (and that anyone who enjoys visiting them is morbid).%uFFFD – from Evanston, Ill. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. The commas are correct, but the Stylebook counsels against parenthenticals, which are jarring to readers. The last clause follows the logic of the sentence, so it doesn't need to be in parentheses. As a whole, it's a rather sweeping statement, and likely to be challenged.

Q. In the sentence "The country hopes to operate fossil fuel free by 2020," should there be hyphens in fossil-fuel-free"? – from Washington , District of Columbia on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. Wow. Which country is that? On your question, make it fossil fuel-free ... or rephrased, without fossil fuel ...

Q. Can "pullout" be used as an adjective, as in a "pullout trash can"? Or would you hyphenate it, "pull-out"? – from Jackson, Wyo. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. Use it as a noun phrase without a hyphen: pullout trash can.

Q. Can I abbreviate high school to H.S. upon second reference? – from Savannah, Ga. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. AP sports stories use HS in headlines and sometimes in lists: e.g., Lincoln HS or HS playoffs. But within stories, it's Lincoln High School on first reference, Lincoln thereafter.

Q. In the following blurb (we know it's not a complete sentence), should the verb be "provide" or "provides"? "One of the nation's few online XYZ programs that provide/s more than X clinical hours of hands-on experience. – from Northridge, Calif. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. One of the nation's few online XYZ programs that provide ...

Q. Hello! What is AP's take on "thank you"? We're using it as a noun: 1. Several students planned a special thank-you for staff. 2. Many faculty were in the process of planning a cookie thank-you. 3. Gifts included stocking hats and a poster-size thank-you with student signatures. Are the hyphens in each example correct? – from Exeter, N.H. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. Correct based on the dictionary entry: thank-you (n.)

Q. I've reviewed the stylebook and Ask the Editor archives and am still confused on when "committee" when used in reference to local government is considered a "formal name." For example, each of our local governments (city, village, school district) has a Finance Committee, Buildings and Grounds Committee, Administrative Committee, etc. Are these considered generic or formal? Thanks. – from Oconto Falls, Wis. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. AP stories generally lowercase generic committee names on a local level. In a legislature or in Congress, the formal names are capitalized: the Senate Finance Committee.

Q. Is there a space before the period when ending a sentence with a website address? "I use ." Thank you. – from Plantsville, Conn. on Thu, Feb 26, 2015

A. No space. Another option is to place the website address earlier in the sentence set off by dashes to avoid a period.

Q. Is "dash cam" acceptable for "dashboard camera?" – from austin, Texas on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. AP stories generally use dashcam for the shorthand version.

Q. Is it largest-equal solar farm or equal-largest solar farm? (Or without the hyphens...?) – from Tokyo on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. The term doesn't appear in AP new archives. There are online references without a hyphen in largest equal solar farm.

Q. Preparing animals for experimentation, he sedated, shaved, sliced, sawed and/or bored into their skulls, and positioned them onto the procedural gurney and wired them onto a series of monitoring devices and screens. Is it SKULL or SKULLS? – from Santa Ana, Calif. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Use skulls with the plural pronoun their. For clarity to avoid a run-on sentence, put a period after skulls. The second sentence would start: He positioned them on the ...

Q. In response to a question last month, you wrote: Foreign language film nominees: "Ida"; "Leviathan"; "Tangerines"; "Timbuktu"; "Wild Tales." No hyphen with foreign language as a modifier. In another question, it is hyphenated. Could you please settle on which is preferred? – from Chicago on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Customarily written without a hyphen, though some writers slip one in.

Q. Are headlines without verbs and punctuation where you have a noun and then a description immediately following it acceptable? Ex: Apple top tech company in 2014 Thanks for all the help answering my questions over the past two years – from Virginia, XX on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Rather than dropping the verb, make it: Apple is top tech company in 2014

Q. Several websites use "your account" , "your favorites" etc. and some, like this one, use "my account" , "my stylebook". Are both correct or is one preferred? What are the guidelines for deciding which to use? – from Santa Fe, N.M. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. It depends on how the website is presented or introduced, either in the second person (your account) or first person (my account). That's an editorial decision for the website owner.

Q. Do things happen 'at the conclusion' or 'during the conclusion' of the event? – from Ames, Iowa on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. At the conclusion implies at the very end: e.g., as the curtain fell. During the conclusion suggests a somewhat longer period: as the event was wrapping up.

Q. How do you feel about using Delhi instead of New Delhi – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. The shorter form is sometimes used after the full name, including in a dateline. One example in an AP story: Most members of the nearly 100 wedding bands that operate in and around Delhi come from villages in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state, and many are related by blood or marriage.

Q. Is it Aesop%uFFFDs fable or Aesop's Fables uppercase? Or is it something else? Thanks. – from Rosemead, Calif. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Aesop's Fables is customary when referring to a collection of stories attributed to an author in ancient Greece.

Q. I am editing a corporate training book. We have several terms that have typically been capitalized - such as Primary Factors Behavioral Interview Questions what is a rule of thumb to determine when company specific language should be capitalized? – from Wellesley Hills, MA on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. You probably cap those terms as section summaries, subheads or topic intros. That would be your call in a company publication.

Q. If you say Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is national parks upper or lowercase in this usage? I guess I'm wondering if it's the same as the usage for counties, where of course it's uppercase if it stands alone as in Los Angeles County but lowercase if two or more as in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Thanks. – from Rosemead, Calif. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Lowercase national parks in that formulation.

Q. In referencing a website in attribution, do I capitalize the website's name each time? Example: ".... Smith told" – from Cincinnati, Ohio on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Correct, though it could also be described as a blog post.

Q. I see AP has zip line as two words. I would think zip-line accident would be hyphenated, but what about a verb form? Or the "sport"? John Doe was killed when he tried zip-lining (or ziplining)? People have been zip-lining since the 1700s? Did you ever try to zip line? Or zipline? Or zip-line? – from New Jersey on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. The 2011 Stylebook settled on zip line, two words, no hyphen. The forms should follow that model: zip line accident; he tried zip lining; did you ever try to zip line?

Q. What is the plural of sing-along - would it be sings-along or sing-alongs? – on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. AP uses the dictionary's compound spelling: singalong. Add "s" for the plural.

Q. Will you please confirm the formatting of heads up? Webster's New World seems to hyphenate in both adjective and noun forms, but an Ask the Editor answer from 2012 lists it without the hyphen when used as a noun. Has this changed? Or does AP just break from Webster's in this situation? Thank you! – from Mount Prospect, Ill. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Indeed, Webster's NWCD uses heads-up for adjective and noun forms, with the exception of the unhyphenated exclamation: heads up!

Q. Is "Dr. Friedman, MD, medical director of obesity" capitalized or left as is? – from Chicago on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. Dr. XXX Friedman, medical director of obesity (adding his given name on first reference). You don't need M.D. following the name when using the Dr. title.

Q. For the title of an article, should it be "Ten tips for ..." or "10 tips for ..."? I'm not sure which guideline to apply to the numeral. Thanks! – from Roanoke, Va. on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. For a headline, use the numeral 10.

Q. Is slam dunk hyphenated? – from Fort Meade, MD on Wed, Feb 25, 2015

A. AP sports stories spell it slam dunk (two words, no hyphen).

Q. Dear editor, we would like to know how to spell the name of the prime minister of the Western-backed government in Libya: Abdullah al-Thinni or Abdullah al-Thani. Thanks you. – from New York on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. In the most recent uses, AP stories spelled the name Abdullah al-Thinni.

Q. I am trying to find whether or not Stage 3 Melanoma is capitalized or if it is stage 3 melanoma or if you use Roman Numerals III for the 3? I have looked through my stylebook with no luck. – from sumas, wa on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. It's stage 3. However, AP stories about melanoma treatments refer to early stage, midstage and late stage or advanced stage.

Q. I remember hearing that "according to" shouldn't be used as a substitute for "said" and serves as an attribution for a report or data, not a person. What's the AP's stance on this? – from Texas on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. According to is a useful expression when information needs to be attributed to an agency, institution, document or statement, rather than a named individual.

Q. Can you use 'also,' when the verb is the same but the modifier is different? For example: Electricity prices jumped 3 percent on-year, while gas prices also rose 5 percent. – from Virginia, XX on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. Yes, but on-year is ambiguous. Do you mean during the year?

Q. I'm stumped by a compound title. Should it be: %uFFFDchief assistant to the Secretary of State%uFFFD or "Chief Assistant to the Secretary of State?" Thank you! – from Washington on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. Better to use the lengthy title lowercase following the individual's name: John Doe was named chief assistant to the secretary of state.

Q. Is borough capitalized? – from , on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. Capped in some titles: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Otherwise, it's lowercase: The New York City borough of Queens.

Q. The entry for "blond/blonde" states that "blond" should be used for all adjective references of the word. However, one of the ask the editor questions indicates "blonde ale" is acceptable. Allowing the "blonde" version to be an adjective, wouldn't it thus be a "blonde moment" (however crass the expression)? – from Saint Louis, Mo. on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. The sarcastic expression is spelled as you suggest.

Q. Is this sentence punctuated correctly or do I need commas after doctor and pharmacist: By transmitting orders directly from the doctor to the pharmacist to the nurse who administers the medications, many potential errors can be avoided. – from Encinitas, Calif. on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. It's correctly punctuated as you have it.

Q. Hello. Does AP have any suggestion for style consistency (as far as the sequence/order) with using the adverb "also" in relation to the verb? IE: The legislature will also consider property tax legislation %uFFFD OR %uFFFD the legislature also will consider property tax legislation. Thank you! – from Madison, Wis. on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. Also modifies the part of the sentence that's closest to the adverb. Try moving also around within the phrasing to get the proper placement. This seems natural: The legislature will also consider property tax legislation

Q. In a simple list of attributes of people that our company values, we include "results driven" and "detail oriented." They are not used in sentence form and are simply in a bulleted list. Should these terms be hyphenated or not? – from Danbury,CT on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. Not hyphenated.

Q. As its websites abbreviates the tour, would you leave it as UCI Tour, or would you write out Union Cycliste Internationale Tour? – from Boston on Tue, Feb 24, 2015

A. In AP cycling race stories, UCI suffices.

Q. When referring to an elementary school, is the word school necessary? Can you just write Kennedy Elementary? – from Springfield, Mo. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. Generally school is included on first reference when part of the formal name.

Q. If I am writing an article about a campaign, and want to cite something somebody said in the YouTube video for the movement, how would I go about doing that? , X said in a YouTube video? Or if I didn't know the name, "a member said in a YouTube video? – from New York on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. Authenticate the video by confirming that the person is credible, especially if he or she claims to represent a point of view. The group should be able to help on the identification if the person isn't available.

Q. Is it proper to abbreviate RPG or should it be spelled out Rocket Propelled Grenade? – from AP, AP on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. It should be spelled out lowercase on first reference. Or if the abbreviation comes first, such as in a quote, spell out the weapon promptly.

Q. Are commas correction positioned here? Thank you. His words were spoken directly to me and the man standing next to me, to whom I had just been introduced. – from seattle, Wash. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. Correct as punctuated.

Q. Should "are" be capitalized if using title case? For example, "Where Are the Women?" – from new york, N.Y. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. Yes, principal words including verbs are capitalized in a title.

Q. Are the names of bacteria italicized and the first name capitalized? For example, Shigella flexneri. – from Houston on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. The first letter of the first word is capitalized, as you have it. AP doesn't use italics in news stories because the typeface won't transmit through all computer systems. We do use italics for examples in the AP Stylebook.

Q. In an effort to improve inconsistencies on my site related to date ranges, can you please tell me which of the following is correct: Monday-Friday, Monday to Friday or Monday through Friday? And here's the complete example: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time Monday %uFFFD Friday – from Bowie, MD on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. Within a sentence: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday. Condensed format: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday. See "time of day," "times" and "time zone" entries in the Stylebook for elaboration.

Q. On Feb. 22, you advised the use of a plural verb with "cluster": "A. A cluster of family photos offer glimpses of ..." Do you want to reconsider? Try this sentence: "A cluster of homes in the Acme subdivision was approved by the zoning board." (I have a whole quarter riding on the correct verb form being singular.) – from Clemmons , N.C. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. The dictionary gives bunch as a synonym for cluster. By substituting, the plural senses of both terms are apparent.

Q. Is it decision maker or decision-maker as an unmodified noun phrase? – from Falls Church, Va. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. Hyphenate decision-maker.

Q. Is there a specific reason the use of OK is preferred over ok or okay? – from NE on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. OK is the primary spelling in Webster's New World College Dictionary, the AP Stylebook's main reference.

Q. I don%uFFFDt see the difference between the two questions below about the use of Main Street / main street when writing about generic small-town businesses. Upper case or lower? With or without quotes? Q. When describing a bank as a "Main Street" bank, do I use quotations marks? from Fort Wayne, Ind. on Jan 21, 2015 A. Lowercase and in quotes: a "main street" bank. Include a brief explanation. Q. "In Iowa, we are very familiar with what's happening on Main Street." Since this source is referring to all such streets in the state, and not a formal street name, would "main street" be capped? Thanks! from Washington DC, District of Columbia on Sep 27, 2011 A. Yes, capitalize Main Street used in that sense. – from New Jersey on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. You're correct. AP business stories use Main Street bank, capitalized without quotes. It's spelled uppercase in the dictionary in referring to the principal street of any small town.

Q. When to hyphenate a compound modifier and when not to still mystifies me. Would you hyphenate "custom home client"? – from Jackson, Wyo. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. No, it doesn't require a hyphen. While not a term in AP news archives, custom home client is the usual spelling in various online references.

Q. Should it be mayor's charity ball or Mayor's Charity Ball? Organizers, of course, have it capped. – from Charleston, Miss. on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. As the formal name of an event, the Mayor's Charity Ball can be capped.

Q. In the sentence, "He's made an impact through community service work," should there be a hyphen between community and service? – from Washington , District of Columbia on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. No hyphen in community service work.

Q. In the following sentence, "Until 1990, the bridge carried both east- and westbound traffic," is this the correct usage of a hyphen? Thanks. – from Austin, Texas on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

A. ... carried both eastbound and westbound traffic ...

All contents © copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved.