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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. 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. 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. 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.

Q. Is it esports or e-sports? – from Portland, Ore. on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

A. It's hyphenated as e-sports.

Q. I see AP is still preserving hyphenated nationalities such as African-American, whereas the rest of the world seems to have dumped the hyphen, including the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Ditto for Chinese-American, and so forth. Many people consider the hyphen demeaning and inextricably linked with the concept of "hyphenated Americans." Can you tell us whether such a change is in the offing in the near future? – from Washington on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

A. The Stylebook's long-time guidance is to use a hyphen to designate dual heritage. African-American is also the primary spelling in the dictionary.

Q. Which is correct: "We have been in negotiation with..." or "We have been in negotiations with..."? What about, "As a result of our (negotiation/negotiations)..."? – from Irving, Texas on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

A. While the dictionary entry is negotiation, the definition notes that the term is often plural.

Q. I need to provide a list of politically correct terms for a variety of ethnicities, sexual orientations, disabilities, etc. Can you lead me to where I might find those terms used? Much appreciated. – from Franklin, Ind. on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

A. You might check the various entries in the AP Stylebook. The terms and definitions aim for precision and balanced language rather than political correctness, though.

Q. Hello. Should the following numeric ruling be %uFFFFthe committee meets two to three times per semester%uFFFF or %uFFFF2-3 times per semester%uFFFF? Thanks – from Iowa City, Iowa on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

A. ... two to three times ... or, two or three times ...

Q. Is it acceptable to shorten "Cayman Islands" to "Cayman Island" when it's used as an adjective? For example: "A group of Cayman Island funds filed a lawsuit Friday..." Thank you! – from Brooklyn, N.Y. on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

A. Stick with the formal name of the group of three islands, which is Cayman Islands.

Q. Hello, Our staff has stumbled upon a bit of a conundrum. When shortening "St. Edward's University" to "St. Edward's" should the possessive drop from Edward's? It is right to say "Hannah teaches at St. Edward's University" with a possessive because the university belongs to St. Edward. But how should we handle possessives in an example like this: "Hannah, a St. Edward's teacher, is great" or is it "Hannah, a St. Edwards teacher, is great." Please help! 100% important question. Much thanks, Hilltop Views newspaper – from Austin, Texas on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. Retain the possessive in the shortened form of the formal name.

Q. Normally, one does not include the year when writing a date in the current year. But what if one is posting an article on the web, where the article may be around a year from now, if the publication date will not necessarily appear on the page, or might appear but be updated if the article is edited later? – from San Francisco on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. Search engines invariably show the posting date and year of the article. If the article is subsequently updated, include an editor's note with both dates so readers are aware it was amended.

Q. When listing a time on a flyer or invitation, is it appropriate to list like this: 1:00 - 2:30 pm or 1 - 2:30 pm I'm trying to figure out if :00 is okay to list. Thank you. – from Riverside, Calif. on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. In AP usage, the clock range is 1-2:30 p.m. without :00 in the first time.

Q. We have interviewed two people with the same last name for an article. How do we refer to them upon second reference? Do we use both their first and last names throughout the article? – from Bay Village, Ohio on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. Use both first and last names throughout to avoid confusion.

Q. How are you supposed to treat data table titles? Quotation marks, italics, or just leave it alone? For example: NIBRS' Crimes Against Persons data shows that of the 1,093,466 incidents reported in 2014, 562,104 (51.4%) were between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. – from Earth City, Mo. on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. Suggested edit: NIBRS' Crimes Against Persons data shows that of the 1,093,466 incidents reported in 2014, some 562,104, or 51.4 percent, were between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Q. Merino wool %uFFFF capitalize Merino or not? Thanks! – from NY, N.Y. on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. It's merino wool in the dictionary spelling.

Q. Just a quick question here. What's your take on using the word "occurred" versus "happened?" Is it just in my own head that most of the time, "happened" is a better word to use? I see reporters more and more saying things are "occurring" instead of just "happening." Any thoughts? – from , Gillette, Wyoming on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. Dictionary entries list each as a synonym for the other. The happen entry also lists several other verbs with nuanced meanings. In news stories, occurred is probably used more frequently, though.

Q. I came across the words "U.S. Senators" in a sentence in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Is this in keeping with AP Style (to have "senators" upper case in conjunction with the modifier "U.S.") or is this one of the WSJ's many deviations from AP Style? I looked under the legislative titles entry, among others, and I find no clear answer. Thank you for any clarification you can provide. – from Ingleside, Ill. on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. The plural senators is lowercase in AP news stories, including when preceded by U.S. As a title preceding a name, it's Sen. But we use Sens. when preceding more than one name. My somewhat dated copy of the WSJ stylebook gives similar advice under the legislative titles guidance. You might check directly with the newspaper on that op-ed usage.

Q. What is AP's stance on left-aligned text versus justified text? Thanks. – from Florida on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

A. We generally describe AP text as justified or left justified.

Q. If a newspaper name capitalizes "the," is the capitalization retained in shortened versions of the name? Eg. The Washington Post and The Post. – from Joplin MO on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

A. It's the Post in a shortened version of the full name.

Q. Is it "four-hour drive" or "four hour drive?" – from Norman, Okla. on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

A. It's a four-hour drive.

Q. We are having a debate. Is it tapped to lead or tabbed to lead? – from Denver on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

A. The dictionary lists to designate or select for both verb forms. As an American term, tapped may be in wider usage.

Q. Must we write Ohio State as "The Ohio State University," with the "The" in there? There are several other universities that have conceits like this in their names as well. I suspect the correct usage is to call the institution whatever it officially calls itself. Is this correct? – from College Park, MD on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

A. AP news stories generally don't include the capitalized definite article in a school name, so it's generally written Ohio State University.

Q. I have a question on capitalization when writing about two state routes. Should it be "state Routes 24 and 241" or "state routes 24 and 241"? My instinct is to lowercase both words as when writing about multiple streets, states, etc. – from Yakima, Wash. on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

A. By guidance in the "capitalization" entry, lowercase common noun elements of names in plural uses: state routes 24 and 241.

Q. Hi I'm looking for the AP spelling of Babi Yar or Babyn Yar. thanks for your help best Rob – from , Bonn on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

A. Babi Yar is the ravine outside Kiev, Ukraine, where thousands of Jews were shot by Nazi German troops in 1941.

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