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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. When do you spell out numbers? Is it 10 and under? – from Riverside, Calif. on Fri, Sep 30, 2016

A. The basic rule is to spell numbers below 10. However, there are many exceptions, so consult the "numerals" entry for guidance.

Q. Do song lyrics need quotes around them? – from Dallas on Fri, Sep 30, 2016

A. Yes.

Q. Is it housemade, house made or house-made when referring to a restaurants "house-made burger." – from Alpharetta, Ga. on Fri, Sep 30, 2016

A. In culinary references, it's often house-made as a modifier. However, some AP stories spell it housemade, along the lines of homemade, which is a Stylebook term.

Q. Would it be a twenty-five-year old man or a twenty-five-year-old man? – from San Antonio, Texas on Fri, Sep 30, 2016

A. He's a 25-year-old man.

Q. Do you italicize web page titles or put them in quotations? – from , on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

A. AP news stories don't use italics. Common names of webpages (note spelling) are lowercase and aren't enclosed in quotes unless special emphasis is needed.

Q. Is the use of the apostrophe correct in this sentence?: The new rule, he argued, violates homeowners%uFFFF protections against unlawful search and seizure. – from Los Angeles, California on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

A. In AP stories, it's generally homeowner protections, avoiding the possessive.

Q. The entry for the use of dashes looks as if it is using an m-dash. Is that what we are to use for lists, instead of bullets? Or should we use the 'dash-key' on the keyboard? Thanks, Susan – from Round Rock, Texas on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

A. In the ANPA specifications AP follows, there is no em or en dash. AP stories use an underscore with spaces on each side for a thick dash in a list format.

Q. Does AP consider the Caribbean to be part of North America? The sentence in question: "He performed analyses throughout North America, including the Caribbean" vs "throughout North America and the Caribbean". Thank you. – from Miami on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

A. Make it "throughout North America and the Caribbean."

Q. How would you write a sequence of Hours of Operation? Do you place commas after the days or the time? Ex: "Monday to Friday, 11 to 2 a.m., Saturday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday, noon to midnight"? – from New Brunswick, N.J. on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

A. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, noon to midnight.

Q. Isn't the rule to use courtesy titles "after first reference when a woman specifically requests it" sexist? What if a man "specifically requests it?" – from Chicago on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

A. That bit of guidance is currently under discussion by Stylebook editors.

Q. A debate is still raging among editors and writers about the preferred sequence for a calendar of community events which lists things like festivals, plays, art shows, crab bakes etc. Which does AP prefer or is there an AP rule? 1. Event name, description, venue and town, time, phone number. Or 2. Event name, venue and town, time, event description, phone number. Thank you very much for your help with this. – from Thurmont, MD on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. AP calendar items often list the event name, time, date and place in that order. Phone number isn't usually included but it could be the last item.

Q. Should the "the" in the names of musical groups be capitalized, such as "We went to the Rolling Stones concert" or "We went to The Rolling Stones concert"? – from Tokyo on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. In AP stories, the definite article with the group name is lowercase.

Q. Are e-terms capitalized at the beginning of a sentence? For example, if beginning a sentence with "e-book publishing is..." would it be "E-book publishing is..."? – from Bozeman, Mont. on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. Correct. Capitalize E-book at the start of a sentence.

Q. Is "Expected Family Contribution" really a proper noun? The US Dept. of Education treats it as such, and since that department "owns" the calculation, I followed their lead. Other college savings sites don't cap it. – from Houston on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. In AP stories, the term is spelled lowercase.

Q. What's the style for non-home rule community? – from Downers Grove, Ill. on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. Probably as you have it. The spelling has been used a few times in AP stories.

Q. "Theater to host auditions for Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol'" Dickens's or Dickens'? – from Crystal Lake, Illinois on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. The possessive is Dickens' by guidance in the SINGULAR PROPER NAMES ENDING IN S section of the "possessives" entry.

Q. Should the word "company" be capitalized when referencing a client as "The Company" if you've used their full company name in the previous sentence? – from Middlebrook, Va. on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. No, it's the company in AP usage.

Q. Please advise on the correct phrase: "A matching gift is an easy way to double your donation to the organization, making an even bigger impact ON the fight against this disease" or " even bigger impact IN the fight against this disease" – from Chicago on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. The dictionary entry says impact is usually phrased with on.

Q. We're looking for guidance on whether or not we should hyphenate meal-kit delivery services. Thanks. – from Minneapolis on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. In the AP news archive, it's meal kit delivery without a hyphen.

Q. Are the names of newspapers and magazines italicized when written about/referenced in article copy? – from Richmond, Va. on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. AP doesn't italicize these capitalized names in news stories.

Q. Do you have guidance on using "her or his" instead of "his or her"? Our profession is predominantly female and an author has indicated preference for "her or his." Do you see this as a trend gaining momentum? It could be considered in line with the %uFFFFhis, her%uFFFF entry: %uFFFFDo not presume maleness in constructing a sentence.%uFFFF We have suggested revising the sentence as an option but seek input. – from , on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. In a largely feminine context, her or his would make sense for a specific reference. But it's not a trend. His or her is the common usage.

Q. Every state has a lemon law. So, Kentucky's would be the Kentucky Lemon Law.Right? But what about lemon laws in general? Should they be lower cased? And would an attorney who handles only one state's lemon law be a Kentucky Lemon Law attorney, or would that person be a lemon law attorney? – from Eagan, Minn. on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. Yes, if the formal name of the law capitalizes all three words. But lowercase lemon laws as a generic description and lemon law attorney.

Q. Would class action be hyphenated in this instance? "She reviewed class-action complaints against federal contractors in her former role with the government." – from Long Island, New York on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

A. Correctly hyphenated based on a clear majority of spellings in AP news stories.

Q. On first reference, is she Hillary Clinton or Hillary Rodham Clinton? – from washington state on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. The "Clinton, Hillary" entry added to the 2016 AP Stylebook says Clinton no longer routinely uses the full name Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Q. Is it OK to use Navajos? As in a headline: Many Navajos born at home lack document – from Phoenix on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. Yes. Navajos is the primary plural spelling in the dictionary. The plural Navajos is also used in AP stories.

Q. In regard to initial-capping "to," you advised: Q. Is the word "to" capitalized in a composition title? %uFFFF from Canton, Conn. on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 A. It's lowercase as a preposition within the title, but capped as the first word of a title. My understanding is that "To" is also initial-capped in a composition title when it is a helping verb: "It's a Sin To Tell a Lie." Correct? Thanks. – from Clemmons, N.C. on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. Correct. Verbs are capped as principal words in composition titles.

Q. Does the use of province and country in the sentence below follow AP Style? The sentence is within the body of the story. Or, should the reference be to a city, Ontario; or only Canada? My college Copy Editing class and I are having trouble finding an entry that fits this scenario. The plaintiff, a native of Ontario, Canada, %uFFFF – from Littleton, Colo. on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. Specify the city of residence along with Ontario.

Q. I'm afraid I was unclear in my previous question. Should you use the abbreviation "i.e." or use the phrase "in other words"? The same question using the abbreviation "e.g." or "for example". I had read that it is better to use the words rather than the abbreviation. Which do you prefer--words or abbreviations? – from Plano, Texas on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. Words are preferable in most cases.

Q. We are having a discussion here about using fender bender as an adjective. The reporter wants to use like this fender bender-type accidents. I think it should be fender-bender-type since the terms fender bender and just hyphenating bender-type doesn't make sense to me. Any thoughts? – from Orysia McCabe, Middletown, N.Y. on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. It's spelled fender bender in the dictionary, so one hyphen in fender bender-type accidents.

Q. Hi, I see that others asked about time zones and were advised to visit the time zones section, however, I was unable to get clarity on my question after doing so. I hope you can help set the record straight! Can you please tell me when CST should be used versus CDT. When exactly does it change - I've ready conflicting info online that it changes in winter, summer etc. and it looks like right now we should be using PDT and CDT. I read that CDT will be observed until Nov 6, 2016 at 2 a.m, and at that time will switch over to CST and PST. Can you please confirm? Thank you in advance! – from THE WOODLANDS, Texas on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. On Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 a.m. in each time zone, clocks will be set back one hour to standard time. That means Central Daylight Time or CDT becomes Central Standard Time or CST.

Q. Should there be comma after the quotation mark in the following? %uFFFFWhat Would Yale Do If It Were Taxable?%uFFFF CFA Financial Analysts Journal, July/August 2015 – from Winsted, Minn. on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. No comma after the question mark and close quote.

Q. Which is preferred? i.e. or in other words; e.g. or for example – from Plano, Texas on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

A. These Latin expressions have different meanings and aren't interchangeable. The term i.e., or id est, means that is, not in other words. The term e.g., or exempli gratia, means for example. Both are followed by commas.

Q. Is the word "to" capitalized in a composition title? – from Canton, Conn. on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

A. It's lowercase as a preposition within the title, but capped as the first word of a title.

Q. Do you capitalize "who" in a title? – from Boston on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

A. Capitalize the pronoun who as a principal word in a title.

Q. What is the correct abbreviation for audio-visual? AV, A-V, or A/V? – from Portland, Ore. on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

A. It's audiovisual by the dictionary spelling, or AV as an abbreviation on second reference.

Q. Is it light bulb or lightbulb? – from Portland, Ore. on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

A. It's now lightbulb, one word, in Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition. The previous edition used light bulb, two words.

Q. Hi AP. I want to confirm the proper way to hyphenate age ranges. The sentence in question is: "The state will experience a drop of workers in the 25- to 54-year-old workforce population." Please advise. Thank you. – from Madison, Wis. on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

A. Ages correct as written.

Q. Would local national be hyphenated as a modifier? Ex: Local-national employees – from AE, AP on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

A. No hyphen in AP spellings of the term.

Q. What's the best term for when you take two or more photos and put them together to form a single photo, such as you take a photo of a person and use a different photo for the background? Also, what's the best term when you add computer-generated images to a photo, such as a graph next to a politician? – from Boston, XX on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

A. That's called alteration or manipulation of a photo, which is strictly banned in AP news images.

Q. When making reference to the issues regarding slave-owning and non-slave-owning states in U.S. history, would there be a hyphen between slave-state and free-state or are they two seperate words? – from Burlington, Vt. on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

A. No hyphen in slave state and free state.

Q. Why, out of the blue, are AP stories adding metric measurements that have to be taken out of stories for our readers? – from Williamsport, Pa. on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

A. AP stories transmitted internationally require metrics as standard measurements. See "metrics" entry in the Stylebook for elaboration.

Q. Should a comma be placed just before the quote in this text? At the time, E&P companies were preaching the mantra %uFFFFwe will spend within cash flows%uFFFF, so... – from Saint Petersburg, Fla. on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

A. ... companies were preaching the mantra of "We will spend within cash flows," so ...

Q. Is the name of the city of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, abbreviated as "TorC" or "T or C" (when appropriate to shorten)? Thank you! – from San Jose on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

A. Use the second with spaces, though the abbreviation would be rare in a news story, probably only in a direct quote.

Q. There is an editor's answer from 2009 very generally stating if there is no hyphen then go without it. Flash forward to 2016 and the overuse of the term "game changer." I am wondering if it would be considered a modifier (as it is a predicate adjective here), "Joining the U.S. Coast Guard was a game-changer for me." vs. "Joining the U.S. Coast Guard was a game changer for me." (Thank you for all your good work!) – from Mount Laurel, N.J. on Sun, Sep 25, 2016

A. The term is frequently hyphenated in AP stories in similar formulations. I agree it's overused, especially in sports contexts.

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