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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. The punctuation entry does not address my question: How do I punctuate a possessive proper business name when I'm referring to two of its outlets? The store name is Lappert's. I want to refer to both-- i.e., "this is happening at the local Lappert's' stores" Is it Lappert's'? Lapperts'? Thank you. – from Palm Springs, Calif. on Fri, May 27, 2016

A. As a plural, the local Lappert's stores.

Q. Good Day, when noting time of day in a publication, should I use "5 a.m. and 6 a.m.," or would it more properly be "5 or 6 a.m.?" Thanks. – from Phoenix on Fri, May 27, 2016

A. Use a.m. with both: 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Q. I've been unable to find the answer to my question in either the archive or in Webster's New World. Should the "c" in "capitols" be in lowercase when referring to "state capitols"in a sentence? Many thanks, Gayle Vance – from Albuquerque, N.M. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. Yes, lowercase the plural usage. See the PROPER NAMES section of the Stylebook's "capitalization" entry for guidance.

Q. OK, this is why Ask the Editor is the source of so much angst. I submitted the following question, and you responded as shown below. Q. Why don't you just remove the Ask the Editor question about punchline (answer for which says two words) when below it says it should be solid per the dictionary?%uFFFF from Chicago, on Tue, May 24, 2016 A. In the only Q&A, it's punch line, two words, as spelled in the dictionary. But on the AP site, if you look, it shows below the only Q&A you noted: Webster's New World College Dictionary results: punchline (Source: Webster's New World College Dictionary) punch %uFFFF l?n %uFFFF n. the climactic line, typically the last line, of a joke or humorous anecdote So, what gives with your response? – from Chicago on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. I now see that Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, changed the spelling to punchline, one word, from punch line, two words, in its Fourth Edition, which was the primary go-to reference before 2015 when the spelling first came up. Generally AP defers to the current NWCD dictionary spelling when a term isn't in Stylebook. Thanks for pointing it out.

Q. Regarding businesses, I understand the rule to not use all-capital-letter names unless the letters are individually pronounced: BMW. What about private or non-profit entities, such as theater groups, i.e. STAGES St. Louis? – from St. Louis, Mo. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. Using guidance in the CAPS, PERIODS section of the "abbreviations and acronyms" entry, it would be Stages St. Louis. Use only an initial cap and then lowercase for abbreviations and acronyms of more than five letters, unless listed in the Stylebook or Webster's NWCD.

Q. In this example, is "ABCD" considered an appositive that requires commas? "Members will partner with the non-profit organization ABCD to support the cause." – from Towson, MD on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. The name is essential information so it shouldn't be set off. Also, it's nonprofit by the Stylebook spelling.

Q. How should one refer to the historical Hewlett-Packard companies? Like, for example, a story is referring to HP as a longtime customer; the old Hewlett-Packard Co. was a customer, and the new HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise remain customers. But an explanation of their history isn't really relevant to the story. Would "the Hewlett-Packard companies" work? – from Boise, Idaho on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. The formal name is now HP Inc. on first reference. If an additional explanation is needed, formerly named the Hewlett-Packard Co.

Q. I have a 70-page publication that has small paragraphs set apart throughout that start with the word NOTE: in all caps and bold for emphasis, but the rest of the text is normal, not bold. I am being asked to italicize each full note. Is the use of italics frowned upon for entire paragraphs? Our readers are at a 6th-grade reading level on average. – from Madison, Wis. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. That's a typographic design decision. AP doesn't use italics in news stories because of transmission issues. However, the printed AP Stylebook uses italics for examples within the individual entries to contrast with regular body type.

Q. Would a chain headquartered in Canada be "Canada-based" or "Canadian-based"? (I see "British-based" in a stylebook entry, but I wouldn't describe something based in Texas as "Texan-based.") – from Memphis, Tenn. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. Yes, Canada-based is the more precise term. In the AP news archive, stories using Britain-based far exceed the other form.

Q. If you have two consecutive dates, would you use a hyphen or the word and between them? For example, May 26 and 27, 2016, or May 26-27, 2016? – on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. The year is rarely needed with calendar dates within the same year. May 26-27 suffices.

Q. How should one attribute a quotation or information from a webinar, when you don't know the name of its creator? – from , Kansas City, Mo. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. AP would determine the organizer of the webinar and verify the information or quotation before using.

Q. Should the "every day" clauses be separated with semicolons not commas in the below direct quote? Based on the semicolon entry in the punctuation guide I think technically they should be, but I think that takes away from the "I'm reminded..." part of the quote that they lead up to. Thanks! "Every day I pass through the gates, every day I see a beret out there, every day I see a patrol car out there; I%uFFFFm reminded of what we do." – from AE, AP on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. "Every day I pass through the gates. Every day I see a beret out there. Every day I see a patrol car out there. I'm reminded of what we do."

Q. Hello, when quoting written material from sources such as other magazines or newspapers, do you keep their capitalization? Your "Quotes Within Quotes" entry doesn't cover this per se, although it does say to follow standard writing style. But if another publication chooses to capitalize certain terms, such as "First Lady," for example, I feel that changing that to conform to style is changing their voice. But not changing it would be confusing if the term also appears in non-quoted material a different way. I'm sure you will say to just not do this, which is sensical and obvious enough, but it's not an ideal world, and sometimes it's unavoidable. – from Boston on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. You're probably referring to "quotations in the news," which advises Stylebook users to follow basic writing style. Because first lady isn't an official title, it's lowercase in AP news stories, including quotes. However, when quoting historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, AP would use those spellings and capitalizations.

Q. Hello, when saying that someone can be reached on Twitter at their twitter handle, do you say "at @twitterhandle," or do you leave off the first "at" and just say, "You can reach twitter handle @twitterhandle"? – from Boston on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Omit "at" before @twitter .

Q. In numerical ranking, of say, students, for example, should we follow the usual rules for numerals? "The top students who finished first and second received awards, but the ones who placed 10th and 11th were recognized, too." – from St. Louis, Mo. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Correct.

Q. I'm confused about the noun for time-share ... or is it timeshare or time share? Webster's seems to say it should be time-share -- which conflicts with what you've recommended in the past. Am I reading Webster's definition wrong? Thanks! – from Centreville, Va. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. In the absence of a Stylebook entry, we generally defer to the dictionary. Previous Q&A's here were based on Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, which listed time sharing and time share as nouns and time-share as the adjective. In the Fifth Edition, published in 2015, Webster's NWCD changed to time-share (n.) and added hyphenated verb forms: time-shared, time-sharing. This edition also has a separate entry for the American noun: time sharing.

Q. Is there any rule for how to abbreviate a plural with (s) [e.g., fellowship(s)] when the word ends in a -y [e.g., residency(s)]? Should is be residency(s), residency(ies) or just spell them out, residency/residencies? – from Orlando, Fla. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. The plural is residencies using WORDS ENDING IN Y guidance of "plurals" entry.

Q. Is making descriptors parallel writer's preference or an English rule? For example: "The girl was fetching, daring and full of charm" should be corrected to "fetching, daring and charming" to match present participle? Also, "Mary likes hiking, swimming and to bicycle" should be "hiking, swimming and bicycling." – from Atlanta on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Use the form that's clearest for the context. In the first sentence, "full of charm" seems more expressive than "charming." In the second example, the parallel form "bicycling" seems more natural than "to bicycle."

Q. The question regarding former and ex-Marine was not answered. (response here: Please answer the question. As a Marine veteran of 11 years, I take offense to the term "ex-marine", as it is only reserved for those who are expelled from our Corps. "Former Marine" is acceptable, however it's better to say "former active-duty Marine", to clarify that the individual is no longer active-duty. "Once a Marine, always a Marine." – from Shrewsbury, MA on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Yes, AP avoids ex- in this context. Generally AP uses retired for career Marines or former for those who served in the Marine Corps, in which active duty would be understood.

Q. non-swimmers%uFFFF pools or nonswimmers%uFFFF pools? – from AE, AP on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. The second.

Q. Could I shorten "... are adding 35 million to 40 million Takata inflators to the recall" to "... are adding 35-40 million Takata inflators to the recall"? Or perhaps "35 to 40 million"? – from Tokyo on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. OK to express this range as 35-40 million ...

Q. Should it be "Farm to Table" or " Farm-to-Table" as a stand-alone subhead in an article? – from Orysia McCabe, Middletown, N.Y. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. The Stylebook entry is farm-to-table.

Q. Is English as a Second Language capped, or is it English as a second language? I've been lowercasing it, but I more often see it capped when spelled out. Thanks. – from Bohemia, N.Y. on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. English as a second language on first reference, then ESL may be used on follow-ups.

Q. Does AP recommend deep-seated or deep-seeded (as in, "take on deep-seated social issues")? – from Waltham, MA on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary listing: deep-seated.

Q. Is self-published hyphenated as a verb? In Webster's New World College Dictionary it has the term hyphenated but does not specify whether thats as a verb or as an adjective. – from AE, AP on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. Yes, the adjective and verb forms are hyphenated.

Q. Would AP cap bhakti yoga or the practice of kirtan? – from Farmington, Maine on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. In a single use in the AP news archive, Bhakti yoga was capitalized. A few uses of kirtan were spelled lowercase.

Q. Are teams capitalized or not? Should it be "The Thunderbird Rodeo Team is proud to compete." OR "The Thunderbird rodeo team is proud to compete."? What about the Thunderbird Women's Basketball Team OR the Thunderbird women's basketball team? – from Casper, Wyo. on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. An AP story would capitalize Thunderbird, the team name, but generally lowercase the sports type, such as rodeo team or women's basketball team.

Q. I just saw this question and answer in the "Ask the Editor" section: Q. I know that degree names are not capitalized. EX. master of science in nursing administration. But a program title is. EX. Georgetown University's Master of Science in Nursing Administration Program. But what about a specific degree? Is that a proper noun? EX. Georgetown University's Master of Science in Nursing Administration degree. Are my examples correct? %uFFFF from Farmington, Conn. on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 A. In an AP news story, the degree would be written Master of Science in nursing administration. Of course, George Washington University is also capitalized. I was under the impression that if the word degree were added then the subject of the degree would be capitalized as well:Georgetown University's Master of Science degree in Nursing Administration. Is this wrong? – from Casper, Wyo. on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. The degree specialty is lowercase unless it includes a proper noun: e.g., master's degree in English literature.

Q. In the situation of describing a purchase, should it be full-price purchase or full-priced purchase? – from Mason, Ohio on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. Customarily it's full-price purchase.

Q. What is your feeling regarding the use of "American" vs. "U.S. resident"? I have instructed writers to use the latter, since naturalized citizen certificate numbers are likely not requested when gathering stats about how many people have wallpaper in their homes, but it sometimes sounds awkward: "Nine out of every 10 U.S. residents has impacted wisdom teeth." But we can't call them Americans, can we, since we don't know the circumstances of their birth or their immigration status? – from Silver Spring, MD on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. When that information isn't known, there are various formulations to use: e.g., nine of 10 people in the U.S. or nine of 10 U.S. households.

Q. A few months later Nancy had a successful surgery. %uFFFFNurse Jill made my 3-day hospital stay a breeze,%uFFFF she raved. Is it "3-day" or "three-day"? – from Kalamazoo, MI on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. Spell out three-day hospital stay.

Q. Is AP OK with HQ in a hed? – from Mount Pleasant, S.C. on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. Yes, HQ is a frequent abbreviation in AP headlines.

Q. In the sentence "Two-time Academy Award winner Jessica Lange has been cast in a new series," is a hyphen between Award and winner necessary? – from Portland, Ore. on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. No hyphen needed in that particular usage.

Q. In the following sentence, individuals need to do one thing, then another. Which of the following is the proper punctuation? 1. Clear your responses, then try again. 2. Clear your responses; then, try again. 3. Clear your responses; then try again. Thank you for your help. – from Bloomington, Ill. on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. Go with the first example per the dictionary entry: following the comma, then (adv.) with conjunctive force.

Q. In describing types of pollution, experts refer to "point-source pollution" and "nonpoint-source pollution." Have I punctuated these correctly in AP Style? – from Midland, MI on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. Those spellings look right, although AP news stories have varied in the past.

Q. Different dictionaries list correct spelling as either night-light or nightlight. Which is AP style? – from Jackson, MI on Sun, May 22, 2016

A. It's night light, two words, in Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, the Stylebook's primary reference.

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