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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. 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 ...

Q. cluster isn't included in your collective noun entry; Bernstein/Bremner: "A number of" takes plural verb. How would you edit "A cluster of family photos offer/s glimpses/a glimpse of" ? – from Cupertino, Calif. on Sun, Feb 22, 2015

A. A cluster of family photos offer glimpses of ...

Q. I love Ask the Editor -- don't know what I would do without you guys! Here's a capitalization question for you: The Grand Teton Music Festival hosts occasional fundraising dinners called "Signature Private Dinners." When referring to these dinners, should I capitalize Signature Private Dinners and/or put it in quotes? Thank you! – from Jackson, Wyo. on Sun, Feb 22, 2015

A. As an official event, the name could be capitalized without the need for quotation marks.

Q. tee ball? t-ball? T-ball? – from Marietta, Ga. on Sat, Feb 21, 2015

A. Use the dictionary spelling: T-ball.

Q. Would it be "central gas fireplace" or "central-gas fireplace"? – from Jackson, Wyo. on Sat, Feb 21, 2015

A. No hyphen needed.

Q. Should "square foot" be hyphenated when used in front of a noun. For example "a 100 square-foot covered porch..." – from thornton, Pa. on Sat, Feb 21, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. For a vendor we often refer to them as Third Party. What formats are acceptable...third party, Third Party, 3rd party or 3rd Party? – from Fort Lauderdale , Fla. on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. Make it third party spelled lowercase. It's not a proper noun.

Q. Up to date vs up-to-date -- sorry to be so confused by this -- would you please advise which is correct: "Your account is up to date." "Your account is up-to-date." Thank you! – from Louisa, Va. on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. Your account is up-to-date. The adjective is hyphenated.

Q. Policies in force is an insurance industry term for active policies. It's often abbreviated PIF on second reference. Would the plural abbreviation then be PIFs, like RBIs for runs batted in? – from Chicago on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. Which is correct: The 20-million-year-old scroll or the 20 million-year-old scroll? – from Tucson, Ariz. on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. The second, though prehistoric dates are better phrased without a compound modifier: an object estimated to be 20 million years old. That long predates humans so it couldn't be a scroll.

Q. In a composition title or headline, would you capitalize the second part of a hyphenated word (for example, Resources for [School-Age or School-age] Children)? – from , Corpus Christi, Texas on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. Not in an AP headline, but a composition title, such as a book, could capitalize both hyphenated terms.

Q. Up to date or up-to-date? In researching whether to hyphenate or not, I'm finding contradictory info on your site. I understood that when the phrase is an adjective, it should be hyphenated and when not, then no hyphens. However, below and elsewhere on your website I also saw the term hyphenated in every instance. (Please see last line; I've not included the whole article): "USING LISTS TO STAY ORGANIZED AND PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY Twitter Twitter lists are a powerful, convenient way to organize and find new people. ... If you are sharing a list with colleagues you should come back to it regularly to ensure it is always up-to-date." -- Please advise. Thank you! – from Louisa, Va. on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. An unhyphenated usage: We keep you up to date on the latest discoveries. A hyphenated usage: It's an up-to-date bungalow.

Q. Can you refresh me on the use of gerands? Are "-ing" words permissible in this form, e.g. awareness-building as an adjective? – from Washington on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. A gerund is a verbal noun, formed by adding "ing" to the root word. But in your example, building is the present participle of the verb build. It's hyphenated with the noun awareness as a compound modifier preceding a noun: e.g., awareness-building strategy.

Q. When will the Style Quizzes be updated? The last one in the list is from Sept. 2014. I use these quizzes in editorial meetings, and it would be great to have a few that are topical. Thanks! – from Boston on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. A new quiz was posted today.

Q. Is County capitalized when used in a series? ex: Loudoun Clarke, Frederick, Prince William and Fairfax counties or Loudoun Clarke, Frederick, Prince William and Fairfax Counties – from Falls Church, Va. on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. Lowercase counties in such plural uses.

Q. Division of Academic Affairs; General Education Program. Without the full name: Academic Affairs or academic affairs: "It is the practice of Academic Affairs/academic affairs to review all copy first"? General Education or general education: "All students must complete their General Education/general education requirements"? Thanks. – from Orchard Park, N.Y. on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. See the INTERNAL ELEMENTS section of the "organizations and institutions" entry. By that guidance, Academic Affairs could be capped and general education left lowercase.

Q. Is it Guinea-Bissau or Guinea Bissau? It's hyphenated in AP stories but not in the African Union entry in the stylebook. – on Fri, Feb 20, 2015

A. Guinea-Bissau is correct. The Stylebook spelling will be amended. Thanks.

Q. Can you please clarify what AP considers to be a simple series vs. a complex series? You have previously referred inquiries of this kind to the "IN A SERIES" portion of your entry for commas. This entry instructs readers to "use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases," but what constitutes a series as complex is not defined. ... further guidance on simple series vs. complex series would settle a lot of disputes where clarity is open to interpretation. – from Newport Beach, Calif. on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. From a previous Ask the Editor query, an example of correctly using a comma before the last item in a complex series: There are photos of employees overlooking the Grand Canyon, taken at a golf tournament, on a Mexican cruise, and more. Another example (Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style) of a final comma to ensure clarity: The book treats the traditional usage bugbears, such as disinterested, lay and lie, and impact.

Q. Is Master of Public Health its own degree, or is it a Master of Science in public health? – from Gary, Indiana on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. AP generally uses master's degree in public health or Master of Science in public health.

Q. Regarding lists, what if the items in a list are just single words. So, for example, I like the following fruits: -- apples -- oranges -- strawberries Would each of these have the first letter capitalized, or none? Would each be followed by a period, or would only the last one be followed by a period, or none at all? Thanks. – from Boston on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. The guidance is to capitalize each item and follow each with a period. You might consider using another format for such a simple list. There are other options.

Q. Is it correct to say a "historical" house rather than a "historic" house? This is just an old home, not one where something significant happened. (This is not a question about "a" vs. "an".) – from Wylie, Texas on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. Yes, but it might be read to mean significant house. There are other options, such as period house, or 19th-century house.

Q. In the business and engineering worlds, "five 9s" appears to be a common term. Does "five 9s" match AP style? -- In computers, 99.999 (often called "five 9s") refers to a desired percentage of availability of a given computer system.-- Thanks. – from Richardson, Texas on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. The term doesn't show in AP news archives. However, writing the "five 9s" in quotes on first reference, followed by the explanation, would be clear for a general audience.

Q. Is "early bird" hyphenated when used as a modifier, as in "early-bird discount"? – from St. Louis on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. It's clear without a hyphen though some write it that way.

Q. Is it deductible or deductable? – from Spartanburg, S.C. on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. The first.

Q. Would "what-ifs" be hyphenated? – from Kansas City, Mo. on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. What if isn't hyphenated in the dictionary.

Q. Is it the National Airspace System or the national airspace system? – from Neenah, Wis. on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. AP stories quoting statements from the FAA don't hyphenate national airspace system.

Q. I work for a health resort and we generally follow AP style, with some exceptions. We've been told by lawyers for a sports equipment company that use of its name requires all caps, Times Roman font, and the (R) mark. We'll go along with the R mark, but I am opposed to the first two requirements. What is AP's stand on this issue? – from , Tucson, Arizona on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. AP news stories capitalize just the first letter of brand names and trademarks. Stories don't use symbols like the (R) mark or company-specified fonts.

Q. If "brain wave" is used as an adjective to modify a noun, how should it be written? For example, to describe "frequencies," is it "brainwave frequencies" or "brain-wave frequencies" or "brain wave frequencies"? – from Orlando, Fla. on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. No hyphen in the noun phrase: brain wave frequencies.

Q. Is "around the clock" hyphenated? – from Atlanta on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

A. It's around-the-cloud (adj., adv.).

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