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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. Non-negotiable or nonnegotiable? – from Boone, N.C. on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. It's nonnegotiable by the Stylebook's "non" entry and the Webster's spelling.

Q. Which is correct - the Third Annual Earth Day Fair or the 3rd Annual Earth Day Fair? – from San Diego on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. It's the third annual Earth Day Fair.

Q. Which is correct: "Take an approximately 30-minute walking tour," or "Take an approximate 30-minute walking tour." – from Cathedral City, Calif. on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. The first, or rephrased: Take a walking tour of about 30 minutes.

Q. Hello, In the following sentence, is it top 10 or top-10...The product of Valparaiso, Indiana, Patterson has seven top-20 finishes to her credit this season, including four in the top 10. Thanks! – from COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. Hyphenate the modifier.

Q. In headlines, are "1Q" and "Q1" acceptable abbreviations for "first quarter"? – from , Houston on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. In AP stories, business quarters are usually spelled out: first quarter, third quarter, etc. Q1, Q2, etc., may be used in headlines, occasionally in story texts.

Q. Fractions less than 1 should be spelled out, but dimensions should always use figures. So how would you write "The processor is about 2 inches by half an inch, while ours is 4 millimeters, or about a fifth of an inch" ? Thanks! – from Cleveland on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. As written, the dimensions are approximate, so the smaller measurements can be spelled for clarity. The processor is about 2 inches by one-half inch, while ours is 4 millimeters, or about one-fifth of an inch.

Q. Hello, How would you correctly punctuate "limited English speaking persons?" Is it limited-English speaking persons or limited English-speaking persons? – from Lanham, MD on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. The Stylebook's "people, person" entry says the word people is preferred to persons in all plural uses. In your example, try rephrasing: people with limited English, or people who speak limited English.

Q. Is it binging or bingeing? – from Delray Beach, Fla. on Mon, Apr 20, 2015

A. Indulging in an unrestrained manner is bingeing.

Q. How to correctly punctuate "30-second TV spot" and "one-minute TV spot" – from seattle, Wash. on Sun, Apr 19, 2015

A. As exact timings, use hyphenated numerals for 30-second TV spot and 1-minute TV spot.

Q. I think normally when we have a foreign word in an article we put it in quotes when the English follows, what about yoga poses like%uFFFDStart by putting your feet together, toes touching, heels slightly apart. Hang your arm from your sides, palms open. You may recognize this as "Tadasana," the Mountain Pose. – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Sat, Apr 18, 2015

A. No quotes needed in this case.

Q. Is the rule of thumb still "quote," name, title, said? If so, when is that not the case? – from Flagstaff, Ariz. on Sat, Apr 18, 2015

A. Generally that's the practice. Said would come first if the name is followed by an appositive.

Q. When ending a sentence with "U.S." should it just be "U.S." or is an extra period necessary "U.S.." ? – from Dallas on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. If U.S. ends the sentence, there's no additional period.

Q. Which is preferred: "We got your back," "We've got your back," or "We have your back"? Thanks. – from Duluth, Minn. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. All three are used informally, so it's your call.

Q. Have I punctuated this correctly? %uFFFDMore common,%uFFFD she said, %uFFFD %uFFFD and frankly, these make me shake my head and wonder %uFFFD are situations when someone absolutely knew better." Not sure how to handle the em dashes. (Well, they're em dashes in the document as I typed it, even though they don't show up here ...) Is there an alternate way to do it? Thanks. – from Houston on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. "More common -- and frankly, these make me shake my head and wonder -- are situations when someone absolutely knew better," she said. (See the Stylebook's "dash" entry.)

Q. Sorry if this seems frivolous, but: what are the plural forms for "whiskey and coke" and "scotch and soda"? Thanks! – from kansas city, Mo. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. Try pluralizing the mixer: whiskey and cokes and scotch and sodas.

Q. In reference to executive compensation policies, how is the term "claw back" rendered? In the example I am editing, it is an adjective, and I am inclined to hyphenate it, as "claw-back provisions." If it were used as a noun ("his claw back amounted to $X), would you recommend using it as two words or writing it solid? – from New Berlin, Wis. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. The dictionary spellings are identical: clawback (adj.) and clawback (n.). Two words for the verb: claw back.

Q. Should "at bat" be hyphenated, as in "Kris Bryant struck out in his first at-bat" or "he has one hit in his last 10 at-bats"? – from East Northport, N.Y. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. Yes, at-bat and at-bats in AP stories.

Q. What is AP's style for the name of an app? Some examples: Is it "Robot Commander" or Robot Commander, and what would you do with one that calls itself EV3RSTORM? – from Englewood Cliffs, N.J. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. We've evolved to this guidance: app titles are capitalized but not enclosed in quotes. We avoid all-cap spellings for titles or names: Ev3rstorm.

Q. We write a lot about St. Vincent de Paul. And, internally, in second reference, when we talk about him, we just say "Vincent." In writing, however, accding to AP, would we continue to refer to him as St. Vincent, or, just Vincent? – from Chicago on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. St. Vincent de Paul on first reference, Vincent in follow-ups.

Q. Just as double dollar signs are used for ranges of money, are the signs or names of other currencies doubled? For example, AP uses "$50-$60." Would AP use "Eur50-Eur60" or "Yuan 50-Yuan 60?" Thanks – from Richard Rubin on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. Usually expressed as 50 euros to 60 euros and 50 yuan to 60 yuan, accompanied by conversion to dollars. See "currency conversions" entry for examples.

Q. My client is a local bank. We are preparing a news release for release on Monday. My client insists that in the second reference the "b" in bank should be capitalized because it refers to a specific bank. I am just as insistent that the "b" should be lowecase. When I send the release, obviously, I want it to be correct. What say you? Thanks! Scott Fraser – from North Scituate, R.I. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. In AP stories, bank is lowercase in follow-ups to the capitalized name.

Q. I know the company is FedEx. But what if it's in a quote as Federal Express? Is it Federal Express or FederalExpress? – from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. Two separate words in the quote.

Q. Does the term "social media" take the singular or plural? I've seen it used both ways in major publications. Would it be: Social media is growing rapidly. Or: Social media are growing rapidly. Does it follow the same rules as the word "media" does? – from New York on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. Use the plural verb: Social media are growing rapidly.

Q. I know you don't use title case for headlines, so let's say in a composition title, what would you do with "aka" or "mph"? Just for example: "The 200-MPH Road Race," "The 200-mph Road Race" or "The 200-Mph Road Race." Thanks! – from Brooklyn, N.Y. on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. "The 200-mph Road Race" ... "Road Race Aka 200-mph Endurance Test"

Q. I noticed that you answered that "antifungal" was the correct form of the word. However, that seems to contradict the AP guideline to "Hyphenate all except the following words, which have specific meanings of their own:" (found on the entry for "anti-". As anti-fungal doesn't have its own entry in the list of exceptions, shouldn't it be hyphenated? Or should this list be updated or amended? – from Tiverton, UK on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

A. For antifungal, AP stories use the dictionary spelling. Medical terms using this prefix typically aren't hyphenated.

Q. I just read the following sentence in a New York Times online post: "Four hundred and 23 of you %uFFFD about 10 percent %uFFFD made our finalists list." First of all, isnt' the use of "and" in the number incorrect? Secondly, should the beginning of the sentence been written as "Four hundred twenty-three of you..." or better yet, couldn't they have recast the sentence as "More than 400 of you..."? Thank you. – from Marietta , Ga. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. In a direct quote, the words are written as spoken.To avoid awkward numbers, a paraphrase and direct quote may be clearer, starting with an attribution: Smith said that 423 people, "about 10 percent, made our finalists' list."

Q. Is it the Cayman's or Caymans in a headline when referring to Cayman Islands? – from , Utah on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Caymans for the shorter form.

Q. Would Advanced Placement be capitalized or lowercase when saying "Advanced Placement biology class?" Thanks. – from Rosemead, Calif. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Advanced Placement is generally capitalized in news stories, using the spelling as you have it.

Q. In a story about the Mississippi Delta, would "Delta" get a lowercase "d" when it stands alone, as in "The delta is a place of extreme poverty"? – from Alex on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. Apparently some organizations are calling foods made from soy "soyfoods" - one word. Should we do the same? – from Washington , District of Columbia on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. With the exception of an industry group called Soyfoods Association, the generic term is better spelled as two words, soy foods.

Q. If you say "The tournament was led by golfer Phil Mickelson," golfer is lowercase as an occupational title, right? – from Raleigh, N.C. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Yes, golfer is lowercase as a job description.

Q. In the sentence "Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.", should "property" be singular or plural? – from San Francisco on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. While usually phrased as you have it, properties may be more precise for agreement.

Q. The Senate has been debating a human-trafficking bill recently. I've seen a lot of copy using the terms "human trafficking" and "sex trafficking" interchangeably but my understanding is that while sex trafficking is human trafficking, not all human trafficking is sex trafficking. Any plans to add an entry to make this distinction clear? – from Washington on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. A news story should make clear what type of trafficking is involved in a given situation.

Q. Hi there. Is it antifungal or anti-fungal? TIA. – from winchester Bay , Ore. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. It's antifungal in AP medical stories.

Q. Hi AP. I understand "$1 million" can be "1M" in a headline. What about when the dollar figure appears in a chart? The author is including a chart within his article. Should the column for dollar figures display just "M" or show "million" spelled out? Thanks! – from Madison, Wis. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Better spell out millions assuming there's space.

Q. For statistics, a 12/10/07 Ask the Editor answer says to use figures for large samplings (1 in 4 voters), but spell out numerals for finite numbers (six out of nine senators). My sentence: Infectious diseases constitute three/3 of the top 10 causes of death. The "top 10" is finite. Please explain if the guidance in "numerals" entry is to use figures for ALL statistics, regardless of sample size (large vs. finite). Or if the idea is to use figures only for large samplings and spell out finite examples. Thanks! – from Rochester, Minn. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. In this case, spell out the lower number: ... three of the top 10 causes of death. See the "numerals" section for ratios and other statistics expressed with figures.

Q. Do you bold punctuation directly after bold text? Similarly, do you italicize punctuation following a word that is italicized? – from Glen Rock, N.J. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. Yes, though we don't use italics or boldface in news stories.

Q. Should I hyphenate the name of this program: Prescriber-Only Services or use Prescriber only Services? – from Madison, Wis. on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. The hyphenated form makes it clearer, though the term wouldn't be capitalized in a news story.

Q. Please could you clarify the AP Style for the spelling of the Russian Defence Minister's name? Is it Sergei Shoigu or Sergey Shoygu? – from London, UK on Thu, Apr 16, 2015

A. In AP stories from Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Q. Can I assume "streetwear" is OK, in line with the entry on -wear? – from Tokyo on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. AP fashion stories use streetwear.

Q. If something is a menu item, such as a Vanilla Bean Frappucino, is that considered a product and capitalized? – from University Heights, Ohio on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. On a menu, first letters might be capitalized on a line-by-line list. Otherwise, lowercase items such as vanilla bean frappucino, though regional words are usually capped.

Q. I thought this was in the guide somewhere but I couldn't find it. On first reference, I know it would be "Gov. Jerry Brown." But on subsequent references, is he Gov. Brown or just Brown? (Basically, does it follow the same rule "president" follows?) Also, if it has been more than 5 paragraphs since he's been mentioned, do I need to reintroduce "Gov." again if it's the latter? – from Santa Cruz, Calif. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Gov. Jerry Brown on first reference, and Brown or the governor in follow-ups.

Q. I know we spell out a percentage at the beginning of sentence. In a quote would it be "Ninety-nine point nine percent of the...?" Or should it revert back to a decimal since it's not a whole number? Thanks. – from Reno, Nev. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Avoid the awkward spelled figure by beginning the sentence with an attribution: He said that "99.9 percent of the ..."

Q. Follow up to: Q. When you are alphabetizing a list of names, how do you order people with two last names that are not hyphenated, such as Olivia Newton John and Jonathan Taylor Thomas? from Cambridge, MA on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 A. Alphabetize by the first of the two surnames. What if it is not clear as to whether it is a surname or a middle name? – from Cambridge, MA on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Ask the individual which surname to use.

Q. When issuing a joint press release what order do the company boiler plates take? Should the company issuing the release close with their boiler plate? – from atlanta, Ga. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. For the customary practice, check a publicity service such as PR Newswire:

Q. I hope you can settle an argument we are having. Should it be french vanilla or French vanilla when referring to the type of coffee or flavor of ice cream? – from Charlotte, N.C. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. French seems to be capitalized in brand names and as a generic flavor, though vanilla is lowercase.

Q. Re: Capitalization of common nouns when they are an integral part of the full name for a person, place or thing (ex: Democratic Party). But what about an event? (Mardi Gras Pancake Supper or Mardi Gras pancake supper?) Thank you! – from Middletown, Conn. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. One-time event names are often enclosed in quotes. The common noun elements can be lowercase.

Q. Hi AP. If used as an adjective, would "Assembly" still retain capitalization in that instance? The sentence in question: "Whether Assembly Democrats can pick up swing seats in the election is unknown." Thank you! – from Madison, Wis. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Yes, though Assembly may not be needed in that context.

Q. Regarding ride-sharing/ridesharing -- From the Stylebook: Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft ... They may also be called ride-booking services. Do not use ride-sharing. But what if you are discussing the apps themselves or the technology -- such as A number of popular taxi and ride-sharing apps are available. And topics such as legislation -- Georgia has become the first state to pass legislation to regulate the ridesharing businesses. If the bill says ridesharing, should the story say that or change it to ride-hailing or ride-booking? And would it be ridebooking as a noun and ride-booking as a modifier (ride-booking service)? – from New Jersey on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. AP uses ride-booking or ride-hailing to accurately describe these taxi services.

Q. When you are alphabetizing a list of names, how do you order people with two last names that are not hyphenated, such as Olivia Newton John and Jonathan Taylor Thomas? – from Cambridge, MA on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Alphabetize by the first of the two surnames.

Q. I know that lawn mower is 2 words, but what would AP do with the term lawnmower parent? Still 2 words? Hyphenated? – from Farmington, Maine on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Three words: lawn mower parent.

Q. Should it be Late Cretaceous Period or late Cretaceous period? – from , Belleville, N.J. on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. It's the late Cretaceous Period in AP stories, though period is sometimes lowercase.

Q. Is it acceptable in a news story to use the phrase "cut him a break" or "cut himself a break" or a facsimile thereof? It seems rather colloquial, but maybe it's part of standard American English now. – from New York on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. It's very informal, if not slang to be avoided. Why not substitute a more precise phrase, such as gave himself a break or a boost?

Q. In headline, shall I use & (ampersand) or and? It is not a formal name. e.g. covers apparel, accessories, footwear, underwear and swimwear. or covers apparel, accessories, footwear, underwear & swimwear. Many thanks. – from HK on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

A. Don't use the ampersand in a headline as a substitute for and. Confine the ampersand to familiar uses such as B&B or R&B.

Q. Is non-retirement hyphenated? – from , Bedford NH on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Not by the guidance in the Stylebook's "non" entry.

Q. Is it acceptable to use FKA in place of formerly known as? If so, should it be FKA in all caps, similar to DBA? – from Dallas, Texas on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Spell out formerly known as. The Stylebook does allow lowercase aka for also known as.

Q. This always confuses me. In a sentence like the one below, do you need a coma before "effective"? The plan is pleased to announce that it has selected a new service provider, effective July 1, 2014. – from Greenwood Village, Colo. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Not in this instance.

Q. Sentence cannot be restructured. "We are forecasting a or an? ~49% decline in revenues." – from Saint Petersburg, Florida on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. "We are forecasting a 49 percent decline in revenues."

Q. Would you hyphenate "health-conscious" here? "The restaurant caters to the health-conscious." Can't recast. Thanks! – from Kansas City, Mo. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Yes, hyphenate terms using the combining form conscious: health-conscious.

Q. The sentence must remain structured as shown. Should a dollar sign be used following the slash mark in the following sentence? Our 1Q15/2015 EPS estimates stand at $0.06/$0.20, which compares with our prior estimates of $0.11/$0.25, and the Street at $0.12/$0.43. – from Saint Petersburg, Florida on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. No, use 6 cents, 20 cents, etc. Use the $ sign and decimal system for amounts of $1.01 and above. If the slash is intended to indicate an estimated range of EPS, use a hyphen for 6-20 cents and the others.

Q. Hoping you can settle a debate for me. In the following sentence, would "hard to quantify" be considered a compound modifier and thus become hyphenated? "The FDA has issued warning letters on such subjective, hard to quantify matters as the appearance of actors, imagery and animation in commercials." Thank you! – from Woodbridge , N.J. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. No hyphens required.

Q. Is it "highlights of" or "highlights from"? For example, "Here are highlights of/from the State of the Union address." – from Chicago on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Either preposition is correct. Highlights from does avoid a repetition.

Q. re: Which is preferred: Weekend Warriors Welcome or Weekend Warriors Welcomed ? This phrase will be on a large banner and the phrase is to imply that weekend warriors are welcomed to come to a facility for treatment. – from Chandler, Ariz. on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. Welcome Weekend Warriors

Q. Which is preferred: 3D Shapes or 3-D Shapes? – from Orrville, Ohio on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

A. See "3-D" entry.

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