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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. Home in on or hone in on for the idiom meaning focusing on a target or objective? – from Charlotte, N.C. on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

A. Home in on means to guide or be guided by radar, etc., to a destination or objective.

Q. Do I have to spell out a cost in a quote? For example, here I did, but would like to use "$7" instead of "seven dollars," etc. %uFFFFBefore, if we didn%uFFFFt have it, we just rented it. Everyone can spend seven dollars a day, but at the end of the month that%uFFFFs two-hundred and twenty dollars and at the end of the year that%uFFFFs thousands of dollars. We stopped the bleeding and did a one-hundred and eighty degree turn-a-round. It helped us tremendously.%uFFFF Please advise. – from Chicago on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

A. ... $7 a day ... $220 ... that's thousands of dollars .. a 180-degree turnaround.

Q. What is the proper style for cap and trade in the context of climate change policies? It would seem as though cap-and-trade is always a compound modifier, but eve if used alone since it is implicitly referencing a program or policy. Clarification would be greatly appreciated. – from Boulder, Colo. on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

A. Standing alone, it's cap and trade. It's hyphenated as a modifier: cap-and-trade legislation.

Q. Should United States be written as such upon first reference or can you abbreviate it on first reference? – from Scottsdale, Ariz. on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

A. The abbreviation U.S. often suffices on first reference in news stories. But in some contexts or specific usages, the United States is written out, You can see some examples by searching for that name in this Stylebook.

Q. We follow Associated Press style at our university. On occasion, we receive an academic credential that we are not sure how to abbreviate -- how would you abbreviate DEdMin or doctorate in educational ministry. I think it would be better understood to spell out, however, it's not the style we use. Any advice appreciated. Thanks, Lorene – from Edmond, Oklahoma on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

A. AP would spell out this academic degree as an appositive following the individual's full name. It would be lowercase. See the "academic degrees" entry for usage of abbreviations.

Q. Is web developer one word or two? – from , on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

A. It's two words, web developer, in AP stories.

Q. When referring to more than one hole-in-one for golf would the correct format be holes-in-one or hole-in-ones? – from Sarasota,Florida on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A. In AP golf stories, multiple aces are holes-in-one.

Q. Is it necessary to use commas before a city or state when listed a location? For instance, which is correct: He went to Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro, Calif. He went to Fairmont Hospital, in San Leandro, Calif. – from Washington on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A. Generally not.

Q. Should the Global War on Terrorism or any of its variations (War on Terror, etc.) be considered a proper noun? – from Hypoluxo, Fla. on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A. AP spells these terms lowercase.

Q. In describing a suspect, police described a shirt reading I – from Chicago, Illinois on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A. AP uses a typographical representation within a story. The Stylebook's "emoticon" entry says the typographical cartoon or symbol is generally used to indicate mood or appearance, as :-) and sometimes looked at sideways. Also known as smileys.

Q. What is the proper way to write a blood type (with or without a hyphen)? For example, is it "O-negative" or "O negative"? Thanks! – from Woodbridge, Va. on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A. Type A, Type B, Type AB, Type O, Type O-negative.

Q. Do you capitalize "with" and "from" in a title? They are prepositions that have four letters, but it seems odd to me. – from Charlottesville, Va. on Thu, Jun 30, 2016

A. Capitalize with and from using "composition titles" guidance.

Q. Strip club hyphenated as a compound modifier?? – from North Providence, R.I. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. AP news archives don't hyphenate the term.

Q. Is there any circumstance in which you use ordinals for a date, such as June 29th? Or is it June 29 in every usage? – from Hartford, Connecticut on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Fourth of July or July Fourth are examples. In an event name or title, June 29th could be an ordinal. Otherwise, June 29 is the standard calendar date.

Q. This question is about sources with multiple titles. To refer to a military officer who is a medical doctor and also holds a civilian title, should you say, "Col. (Dr.) John Smith, a cardiologist and national director of the BlahBlah Institute" or "Col. John Smith, M.D., a cardiologist and director of the BlahBlah Institute"? Something else? – from Washington on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. The second but include the military branch before the rank if not specified earlier. While it's not wrong to use M.D. as an appositive after Smith's name, cardiologist should suffice to indicate he's a physician.

Q. Does AP have a style for how to refer to the conflict in Ukraine? – from Milwaukee on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. The Ukraine conflict is correct. Stories specify that fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014 between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces after Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Q. How do I write 'Dog Days of Summer' in an article? What is proper punctuation? – from Nisswa, Minn. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. It's dog days referring to torrid weather in July and August. If you add summer, it's also lowercase.

Q. Am I understanding correctly that a hyphenated number with -fold would be done as thirty-sevenfold? It's in a quote I have to use. – from Washington on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Correct.

Q. Hello, looking for direction with capitalization of the term 'natural capital', referring to all aspects of the natural world that provide benefits to people. Simply put, natural capital is air, land, water, flora and fauna, and the direct and indirect services that these provide such as nutritional resources, drinking water, carbon sequestration, coastal resiliency and crop pollination. I've seen both initial capitalization and no capitalization - what is AP Style? thank you for your assistance! – from White Plains, N.Y. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. As a generic term, it's natural capital.

Q. I've read the AP "cyber" entry. However, I'm asking specifically is it "cyberthreat" or "cyber threat" – from Rockford, Ill. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Sticking with recommendation of the one-word spelling from previous Q&A's at this site. Admittedly, not all news stories adhere.

Q. Has AP changed its rule on punctuation outside quotation marks to be more logical? (i.e., The word meant "harsh", not "flexible".) The rule regarding punctuation usage in quoted statements remains the same, i.e., James said, "I am happy to clarify the meaning of the word." – from Westminster, MD on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Commas and periods are placed within quotes, per guidance in the Stylebook's Punctuation Guide.

Q. Does the "word" Brexit stand on its own, or must it be enclosed in quotation marks? Thanks – from Flagstaff, Ariz. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. The shorthand term for Britain's referendum on EU membership is written various ways in AP stories: the so-called Brexit, the "Brexit" vote and Brexit without qualifiers.

Q. Periods or no periods in U.K. Independence Party? Thank you! – from Brooklyn, N.Y. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. Periods with U.K. within texts, per the Stylebook guidance: U.K. Independence Party.

Q. What is the correct way to list specific dimensions such as the below? Would it be a five-feet by one-and-a-half-feet classroom tables or 5-by-1 1/2-feet classroom tables, or something else? – from Jacksonville, Fla. on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

A. ... classroom tables 5 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide.

Q. Should "early-onset dementia" be hyphenated?? – from Chattanooga, Tenn on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. It's generally hyphenated in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Q. Hi, Webster's says that we can use either "pizazz" or "pizzazz." There doesn't seem to be an AP declaration either way. Could you please give us a definite answer? Thanks – from Phoenix on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary's primary spelling: pizazz.

Q. Should central be capitalized in central New York? – from Syracuse, N.Y. on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. It's central New York state referring to the region.

Q. Would you please reconsider your response to this question? It's not always possible to do as you suggest. For example, in reporting on a survey, we don't want to keep saying "people on the verge of retirement" over and over as we report results, when "preretirees or pre-retirees" describes the group in fewer words. Here's original question and your answer Q. I'm having trouble finding information on whether or not "pre" and "retirees" should be hyphenated (pre-retirees or preretiree?). Which would you suggest? %uFFFF on Tue, Apr 07, 2015 A. Better avoid this odd term, which isn't in the dictionary. Instead, a person nearing retirement or on the verge of retirement – from Clarksville, MD on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. Hyphenate pre-retirees.

Q. Would you capitalize the first letter of acronyms in mid sentence? i.e.: A diverse range of exhibitors from space; civil; defense; manufacturing technology; rotary; and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industries. Would it be capped Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul? – from San Diego on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. The three words are correctly spelled lowercase. Also, AP doesn't follow a term with an abbreviation in parentheses. However, without a verb, the sentence as written is a fragment. Use commas rather than semicolons for the individual items in the list.

Q. I know you would hyphenate "first-grade student," but what about "he is in first grade" ? Hyphenate? – from , on Tue, Jun 28, 2016

A. No hyphen in that usage. He is in first grade.

Q. Which is preferable between "role-playing game" and "roleplaying game"? How about "role-play" versus "roleplay," both in the context of games and non-games (e.g. therapy or learning activities)? – from Seoul, South Korea on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary spellings: role-player (n.); role-playing (n.); role-play (v.); role-playing game.

Q. Should it be "The City in London" or "the City in London"? – from New York on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. The article is lowercase unless starting the sentence.

Q. Is it correct to refer to Mrs. Clinton as Secy. Clinton? Thank you. – from , on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. She's former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We don't abbreviate the title.

Q. A few years ago, someone earned their J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. This year, the school was renamed the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Do I use the original or the new name of the school when referring to their alma mater? – from Chicago on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. Use the name at the time the degree was awarded, and add that Pritzker replaced University in the school's name in 2016.

Q. Would you help with proper spelling and punctuation of "day-glo?" As in "day-glo orange." Thank you! – from Lisle, Ill. on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. The generic adjective is day-glo. There's also a hyphenated trademark name with D and G in capital letters.

Q. I had submitted a comment, advocating dropping the use of the term "rust belt," in late May or early June. In the interim I had a week off and in addition our email addresses were all changed. So if you answered comment, I wouldn't have received it. Could you please resend, to "manderson@gannett.com" ? Thanks. – from Corpus Christie, Texas on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. The term is so widely used in political contexts that it wouldn't make sense to drop it. It's also a dictionary entry, as well as a Stylebook listing.

Q. I have what is probably a simple question. I am wondering if, when sending a thank you note, one writes it on a note card or a notecard. My real question is why, when I searched 'note,' I couldn't find this. How should I have searched. Thank you. I'm new to the Stylebook. – from Washington Island, Wis. on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

A. When a term isn't in the AP Stylebook or covered in Ask the Editor, consult Webster's New World College Dictionary. In this case, the dictionary entry is notecard.

Q. So I am editing this article about the new movie soon to be in theaters, The BFG. And the writer refers to the giant as BFG as if that is his name, but I don't think so. I think his name is the Big Friendly Giant and the name of the movie is The BFG. I am trying to determine this because I am wondering if I should be putting BFG in quotation marks every time it is mentioned, whether it is the giant's name or the movie. – from Orysia McCabe, Middletown, N.Y. on Sun, Jun 26, 2016

A. AP stories give the film title as "The BFG" in quotes. The abbreviation is then spelled out for the character as The Big Friendly Giant. Follow-ups referring to the character could be the giant or the BFG.

Q. What is AP style for handling postal addresses? The U.S. Postal Service regulations say not to use commas or periods in addressing letters or packages. So, should we follow those guidelines when including mailing addresses in stories? – from Lewiston, Idaho on Sat, Jun 25, 2016

A. See "addresses" entry for use of periods with abbreviations, such as Ave. and St. with a numbered location. See "ZIP code" entry for an example using the state postal abbreviations listed in the "state names" entry.

Q. How should Hall of Fame be referred to in second reference? Lower case hall or upper case Hall? – from Corpus Christie, Texas on Sat, Jun 25, 2016

A. A nationally revered institution such as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., is the Hall on second reference. Others on a local or regional level would be the hall on follow-ups to the capitalized full name on first reference.

Q. Would I say "of varying size" or "of varying sizes" in a sentence like this? "Biotech and medical device companies of varying size..." Thank you! – from New York on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. Of varying sizes.

Q. When writing about a university that uses "The" as part of its name, is it proper to capitalize The in the middle of the sentence? Example: She earned her degree at The George Washington University. – from Allentown, Pa. on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. AP doesn't use the capitalized article in such names: She earned her degree at George Washington University.

Q. Is it acceptable to begin a sentence with "And"? – from Lafayette, Colo. on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. Yes, occasionally.

Q. Now that we're on the boring everyday internet instead of the sparkly exciting Internet, do smart homes use the internet of things, the internet of Things, or the Internet of Things? Thanks! – from Chicago on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. It's the internet of things by extension.

Q. Is this punctuated properly: mid-to-late summer? Thanks! – from New York, New York on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

A. Yes.

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