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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. Is a comma needed to introduce the title of a source material? For example: Listen to a conversation with Vincent Harding on the podcast, "On Being." – from New York on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. Yes, the title is an appositive set off by a comma.

Q. What is AP style for capitalizing Convention of States and Constitutional Convention? And does the rule change for plural references (i.e., Conventions of States and Constitutional Conventions)? – from Houston on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia is capitalized. Used in contemporary references, AP stories use lowercase spelling for a convention of states and a constitutional convention.

Q. What is a gender neutral way to refer to all Army National Guardsmen, Air National Guardsmen? – from Burlington, Vt. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. Both men and women are National Guardsmen. They are Army National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard airmen.

Q. In references to naval river forces, is it Brown Water Navy or brown water Navy? Thanks. – from Alexandria, Va. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. AP stories have used Brown Water Navy, which is the spelling used by the Naval Historical Foundation.

Q. What is AP's policy on starting and ending sentences with the word "however?" – from Salt Lake City on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. We adhere to standard usage. As a conjunctive adverb at the beginning or end of a sentence, however is set off by a comma.

Q. For magazine article titles, if there is a hyphenated word, such as Weight-Loss Surgery or Fellowship-Trained, is the word after they hyphen capitalized? – from Macungie, Pa. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. Does the magazine use an all-caps style for article titles? If so, capitalize both parts.

Q. I know that AP announced that the distinction between more than and over was no more (they are now interchangeable). Does the same go for under and less than? For example, "Here are 30 items for under $10." – from St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. The Stylebook guidance on "fewer, less" remains. However, dictionary definition of under (adv.) includes this definition: less in amount, value, etc. (costing $2 or under).

Q. Does AP use quotation marks around the names of journals, for example "Harvard Business Review"? Thank you. – from Hampshire, UK on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. No quotes.

Q. pre-dawn a word? – from Roslindale, MA on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. Yes, it's pre-dawn in AP usage.

Q. I've seen the word "tapestry" used in a plural sense, as in "Plaid, chenille and Navajo tapestry offer different textures ..." Is this a correct usage -- or should it be "tapestries" in this case? – from Jackson, Wyo. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. If these are three separate items, use the plural tapestries.

Q. Have or Got? Which is correct or preferred? Sentence Example 1: If you HAVE plans to head to Birmingham or If you GOT plans to head to Birmingham. Sentence Example 2: Two firefighters in Vestavia Hills got recognized today for helping save a family of five earlier this year. Should got even be used here? – from Birmingham, Ala. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. The first example in 1: is correct. In the second example, ... firefighters were recognized today ...

Q. How would you refer to members of an unmarried heterosexual relationship who nevertheless live together for years? Would it be common law wife or partner or what? – from Bethesda, Md. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. Does the couple have a preferred description? If not known, partnership or partners should be acceptable.

Q. Who are you using as the authority on the ruling of "qi gong" as two words? The National Qigong Association and most other sources appear to use one word. Your Q&A entry says it is one word but doesn't give a reason why. Thanks! – from The Villages, Florida on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. AP stories from China used the qi gong spelling.

Q. Is it smart glasses or smartglasses? – from New York on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. In AP stories, two words for smart glasses.

Q. Does the term day-in and day-out use hyphens? – from Corona, Calif. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. The dictionary spells the expression without hyphens: day in, day out.

Q. If you start a sentence with an amount of money, do you have to spell the number out or use figures? For example: $75 million was given to Cal State Fullerton this year. Thanks! – from Fullerton, Calif. on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. A dollar figure would be spelled out to start the sentence. That's very awkward, so the better strategy is to rephrase with the figure inside: Donors gave $75 million to Cal State Fullerton this year.

Q. I'm inclined to capitalize "Red Scare." What do you think? – from Boston on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. Generally capitalized in AP stories with a brief reference to the time period.

Q. What is the style on Afro Cuban? Hyphenated or non hyphenated? – from , on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. AP stories, including those from Havana, hyphenate Afro-Cuban for dual racial or cultural heritage.

Q. I am seeing inconsistency is the u/c and l/c of New Year's Resolution. Should it be u/c? Or should it be l/c like this -- new year's resolution? I have also seen New Year's resolution. How would AP format? Thank you. – from , Owings Mills, Maryland on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. It's lowercase r in New Year's resolution.

Q. Hi. Would you need a hyphen in this sentence. "... an apples to apples comparison ..." Thanks! – from New York on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. Yes, based on a majority of hyphenated spellings in AP stories.

Q. Is it Marcona almond or marcona almond? – from , Honolulu, Hawaii on Sun, Dec 04, 2016

A. It's lowercase marcona almond in a recipe in the AP news archive.

Q. AP style is to enclose a year with commas when used in conjunction with a month and date. AP photo captions appear to omit a comma after the year when describing a file photo or earlier photo. Is this an intentional exception or is this because in those contexts the full date is a modifier? Example: In this May 12, 1999 photo, .... – from St. George, Utah on Sun, Dec 04, 2016

A. Dropping that comma is incorrect. The photo caption format in the online Stylebook uses a comma after the year: In this Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, photo provided by ...

Q. Have or Has? If you or a member of your travel party has/have special needs... Thanks for your help! – from Cathedral City, Calif. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Use the singular verb in this formulation.

Q. Is 123 Main St., Apt. 456 still the recommended structure for an address with an apartment or suite? Or should it be 123 Main St. Apt. 456? – from Winston-Salem, N.C. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. The first is correct with a comma.

Q. okay, my editing colleagues and I have looked everywhere for this but don't want to trust anything unless and until you, the editor of the AP Styleguide, agree. Is it over insure, over-insure or overinsure? – from Kettering, Ohio on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Using the Stylebook's "over-" guidance for the combining form, overinsure as an unhyphenated compound.

Q. For a city that stands along in a dateline, does that extend to its county as well, assuming it is the same name as the city? In this instance, I'm referring to "San Diego County." Does that need to be followed by "Calif."? – from San Francisco on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Within the story, San Diego County would be clear.

Q. I know the rule for capitalization for agencies is as follows: "State and Justice must resolve their differences." But: Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state. Is it also true that the U.S. Navy would be lowercase in this instance?: %uFFFFHe manages programs through the deputy assistant secretaries of the navy for ships and unmanned systems.%uFFFF It looks strange for the Navy to be lowercase there. Thank you. – from Washington on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Navy is always capitalized when referring to U.S. forces.

Q. Should "well versed" contain a hyphen in the following sentence? "Our professionals are well versed in complex auditing services." – from , on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Yes, hyphenate well-versed.

Q. Should "chip card" be hyphenated in the following: ...pushed back the deadline for installing chip card readers...? Thank you! – from Denver on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Consider it a noun phrase: chip card readers.

Q. Want or wants? Only about 1 in 4 people in the United States wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor's health care law that extended coverage to millions, according to a poll. – from Washington, D.C. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Try rephrasing: Only about 1 person in 4 wants President-elect Donald Trump ... (The U.S. polling sample should be understood.)

Q. what's the correct grammar - i've seen it multiple ways, lack on consistency. Do you say - in the iTunes Store or on the iTunes store when referring to a podcast you can find there. And ditto for on Google Play or in Google Play – from New York on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. The headline atop AP's weekly list: The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store. Also, on Google Play seems to be slightly preferred to in Google Play in AP news archives.

Q. Hello. In the issue of the prefix non, the rule is no hyphen when forming a compound that "does not have special meaning." Could an example be given about what a "special meaning" entails? – from Bowling Green, Ohio on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Examples include names with proper nouns: Non-Aligned Movement, non-Euclidean geometry, non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Q. Should Fantastic Beasts, used as shortened version of the full title of this 2016 JK Rowling movie, be capped and in quotes? Thank you – from Gainesville, Fla. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Yes, but use the full capitalized title in quotes on first reference.

Q. Hi, I've looked around and can't find the proper abbreviation for the Saudi Arabian Riyal. Would it be SAR or SR ? For 99 Riyals, would it be SAR99, SR99, SAR 99, or SR 99 ? Thanks. – from Jeddah , XX on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. AP stories spell out the currency name, as in: A new gas project will be worth more than 50 billion Saudi riyals ($13.3 billion) when complete in 2019.

Q. We're referring to a list of things that start with e as "the four Es." Would it be the four Es or the four E's? – from Encinitas, Calif. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. The four E's, using guidance in the SINGLE LETTERS section of the "plurals" entry.

Q. A recent headline had it: How DirecTV Now compares to other online TV services Is that correct style for "compares to" or should it be "compares with"? I think the latter but see it the other way all the time. – from Chicago on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. If the story illustrates differences, the headline should use compares with, as explained in the Stylebook entry.

Q. The entry for "Indian" says to follow the person's preference for whether you use Indian or Native American. I'm writing a story and I interviewed multiple Native people who have different preferred terms %uFFFF what should I do throughout the story if I want consistency? – from Evanston, Ill. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. You could note high in the story that the subjects use various terms to describe themselves. Then cite the preference when each is quoted.

Q. How would you write four pounds 11 ounces in a story, as in "The baby was four pounds and 11 ounces"? – from Scottsdale, Ariz. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Use figures for the measurement. The baby weighs 4 pounds, 11 ounces.

Q. how do you abbreviate master of philosophy degree? – from Decatur, Ga. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. M.A. in philosophy. See "academic degrees" for guidance on when the abbreviation is acceptable.

Q. Is it first quarter results or first-quarter results? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. AP business stories generally hyphenate the modifier: first-quarter results.

Q. Hi. Would you need a comma in this series: ... from PCs to TVs to mobile devices. Thanks! – from New York on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. No comma needed.

Q. We expect the project to be on-schedule, on-budget and on-time. Do we need the hyphens? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. No.

Q. Is it year to date or year-to-date? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. It's hyphenated as a modifier preceding a noun: year-to-date results. Standing alone, it's often without hyphens.

Q. In a retail setting, is point-of-sale always hyphenated? We do hyphenate when used as a modifier, as in "point-of-sale (POS) system". – from Portland, Ore. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Probably not in this usage: The point of sale is the location where a customer and a retailer complete a transaction.

Q. My team is torn: cost/benefit ratio or cost-benefit ratio? I saw a 2009 question asking whether it should be with or without the hyphen, but some people here are arguing for a /! – from New York on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. See the "slash" entry for guidance.

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