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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. Has AP changed its take on the "plug-in" vs "plugin" debate? The latter seems to be the norm in the industry now (Think "Wordpress plugins"), and the last update from you on this was back in 2011, so I wonder if you've reconsidered your stance on this? Thanks. – from San Francisco on Sat, Dec 10, 2016

A. AP stories are sticking with plug-in.

Q. Sorry, is it US' or US's for a possessive? Thank you! – from New Bern, N.C. on Sat, Dec 10, 2016

A. The first for a headline, though the possessive abbreviation is rarely used there. More typically, a headline is written like this: US envoy to UN sees security risk if refugees not rescued

Q. Is the shortcut for robots "bots" or "'bots" ? – from New York on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

A. AP stories spell it bots without the initial apostrophe.

Q. I am transcribing so cannot change the structure of the sentence. So when you have a date that is not written in AP format, how do you handle? Example: "The 5th of April" or "It happened on the 7th". Would you write as I have done or spell out fifth and seventh? – from Missoula, Mont. on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

A. AP spells out ordinals below 10th.

Q. I am having trouble finding an authoritative statement on page numbering. May page 1 start with the cover for both books and pamphlets (The number "1" on the front cover would be suppressed, and it presupposes no front matter in the book format--table of contents, abbreviations list, etc.--which would be numbered with Roman numerals)? – from Alexandria, Va. on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

A. Book pages are numbered from the first page of the opening chapter of text, not the book cover.

Q. How do you write the acronym for Fear of Missing Out? I found FoMO on Wikipedia, but wondering if AP has a specific way of writing this acronym – from Denver on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

A. AP stories have used FOMO on second reference after spelling out the phobia known as fear of missing out.

Q. Is it micromanage or micro-manage? (ms) – from Englewood Cliffs, N.J. on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary spelling: micromanage.

Q. We are curious about how to write the abbreviated form of the United States of America. The Stylebook says that the correct form is USA however I have noticed on the Associated Press website that U.S. is used in titles and body text and sometimes even US is used in the body text. Furthermore, I cannot find USA or U.S.A. used anywhere. Could you please clarify this for us? https://www.ap.org/en-gb/search?q=U.S. – from 08021, Barcelona on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

A. The USA abbreviation is used chiefly in sports, business and aid references, including Team USA for the U.S. Olympic team, USA Today for the nationally circulated newspaper, Hachette Book Group USA for the publishing company and CARE USA for the assistance group.

Q. How is e-commerce capitalized in a title? E-Commerce or e-Commerce? – from Dallas, Texas on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. E-Commerce probably fits for most titles.

Q. If you are listing two brothers in the same sentence, and mentioning they are brothers, do you have to put their shared last name twice, or just once? (i.e. John Smith and his brother Tim -or- John Smith and his brother Tim Smith) – from Montreal, XX on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. John Smith and his brother, Tim. (Meaning, there are only two brothers and they have the same surname.) If there are subsequent references, use both full names for clarity.

Q. Regarding "whisky," is the proper plural form "whiskys" or "whiskies"? – from San Francisco on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. In the dictionary, it's whisky, whiskies. For the other liquor, it's whiskey, whiskeys.

Q. Should the numerals in this quote about basketball shooting percentages be hyphenated like ratios are? "We were 2 of 17 from three." – from Memphis, Tenn. on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. No hyphens in that formulation. However, the figure would be hyphenated as a compound modifier: 2-of-17 shooting from 3-point range.

Q. Tweetstorm or tweet storm? – from Washington on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. The AP news archives show both spellings used about equally in recent months. However, the one-word version seems to be more prevalent in tweets on Twitter.

Q. Greetings. I'm wondering about your answer here: Q. Is a comma needed to introduce the title of a source material? For example: Listen to a conversation with Vincent Harding on the podcast, "On Being." from New York on Dec 07, 2016 A. Yes, the title is an appositive set off by a comma. Isn't the title essential information that shouldn't be set off with a comma? Thanks. – from Los Angeles on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. You're right. The title is an essential appositive and thus not set off by a comma: ... Vincent Harding on the podcast "On Being." Correcting the previous. Thanks.

Q. Does AP use a comma before a person's name and preceding a title? Ex: Former National Journal columnist, Ron Fournier? – from Detroit on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. No comma in that formulation.

Q. Hi. Should Gaokao (China's national college entrance exam) be capitalized? Thanks? – from New York on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. A fairly recent AP story from China capitalized Gaokao.

Q. Is it acceptable to abbreviate "Honorable" and if so, is "Hon." correct? Thank you. – from Washington on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. This honorific is written out in AP usage: the Honorable John Doe.

Q. I know you prefer A.D. and B.C. Can you please give a brief justification--I always get flak from readers for not using CE, BCE, I want to respond. – from Eureka, Calif. on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

A. A.D. and B.C. are the more common and understandable abbreviations.

Q. Is a comma needed to introduce the title of a source material? For example: Listen to a conversation with Vincent Harding on the podcast, "On Being." – from New York on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. CORRECTION. As pointed out by a reader, the title is essential information and thus isn't set off by a comma: ... Vincent Harding on the podcast "On Being."

Q. What is AP style for capitalizing Convention of States and Constitutional Convention? And does the rule change for plural references (i.e., Conventions of States and Constitutional Conventions)? – from Houston on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia is capitalized. Used in contemporary references, AP stories use lowercase spelling for a convention of states and a constitutional convention.

Q. What is a gender neutral way to refer to all Army National Guardsmen, Air National Guardsmen? – from Burlington, Vt. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. Both men and women are National Guardsmen. They are Army National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard airmen.

Q. In references to naval river forces, is it Brown Water Navy or brown water Navy? Thanks. – from Alexandria, Va. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. AP stories have used Brown Water Navy, which is the spelling used by the Naval Historical Foundation.

Q. What is AP's policy on starting and ending sentences with the word "however?" – from Salt Lake City on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. We adhere to standard usage. As a conjunctive adverb at the beginning or end of a sentence, however is set off by a comma.

Q. For magazine article titles, if there is a hyphenated word, such as Weight-Loss Surgery or Fellowship-Trained, is the word after they hyphen capitalized? – from Macungie, Pa. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. Does the magazine use an all-caps style for article titles? If so, capitalize both parts.

Q. I know that AP announced that the distinction between more than and over was no more (they are now interchangeable). Does the same go for under and less than? For example, "Here are 30 items for under $10." – from St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. The Stylebook guidance on "fewer, less" remains. However, dictionary definition of under (adv.) includes this definition: less in amount, value, etc. (costing $2 or under).

Q. Does AP use quotation marks around the names of journals, for example "Harvard Business Review"? Thank you. – from Hampshire, UK on Wed, Dec 07, 2016

A. No quotes.

Q. pre-dawn a word? – from Roslindale, MA on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. Yes, it's pre-dawn in AP usage.

Q. I've seen the word "tapestry" used in a plural sense, as in "Plaid, chenille and Navajo tapestry offer different textures ..." Is this a correct usage -- or should it be "tapestries" in this case? – from Jackson, Wyo. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. If these are three separate items, use the plural tapestries.

Q. Have or Got? Which is correct or preferred? Sentence Example 1: If you HAVE plans to head to Birmingham or If you GOT plans to head to Birmingham. Sentence Example 2: Two firefighters in Vestavia Hills got recognized today for helping save a family of five earlier this year. Should got even be used here? – from Birmingham, Ala. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. The first example in 1: is correct. In the second example, ... firefighters were recognized today ...

Q. How would you refer to members of an unmarried heterosexual relationship who nevertheless live together for years? Would it be common law wife or partner or what? – from Bethesda, Md. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. Does the couple have a preferred description? If not known, partnership or partners should be acceptable.

Q. Who are you using as the authority on the ruling of "qi gong" as two words? The National Qigong Association and most other sources appear to use one word. Your Q&A entry says it is one word but doesn't give a reason why. Thanks! – from The Villages, Florida on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. AP stories from China used the qi gong spelling.

Q. Is it smart glasses or smartglasses? – from New York on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. In AP stories, two words for smart glasses.

Q. Does the term day-in and day-out use hyphens? – from Corona, Calif. on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

A. The dictionary spells the expression without hyphens: day in, day out.

Q. If you start a sentence with an amount of money, do you have to spell the number out or use figures? For example: $75 million was given to Cal State Fullerton this year. Thanks! – from Fullerton, Calif. on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. A dollar figure would be spelled out to start the sentence. That's very awkward, so the better strategy is to rephrase with the figure inside: Donors gave $75 million to Cal State Fullerton this year.

Q. I'm inclined to capitalize "Red Scare." What do you think? – from Boston on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. Generally capitalized in AP stories with a brief reference to the time period.

Q. What is the style on Afro Cuban? Hyphenated or non hyphenated? – from , on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. AP stories, including those from Havana, hyphenate Afro-Cuban for dual racial or cultural heritage.

Q. I am seeing inconsistency is the u/c and l/c of New Year's Resolution. Should it be u/c? Or should it be l/c like this -- new year's resolution? I have also seen New Year's resolution. How would AP format? Thank you. – from , Owings Mills, Maryland on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. It's lowercase r in New Year's resolution.

Q. Hi. Would you need a hyphen in this sentence. "... an apples to apples comparison ..." Thanks! – from New York on Mon, Dec 05, 2016

A. Yes, based on a majority of hyphenated spellings in AP stories.

Q. Is it Marcona almond or marcona almond? – from , Honolulu, Hawaii on Sun, Dec 04, 2016

A. It's lowercase marcona almond in a recipe in the AP news archive.

Q. AP style is to enclose a year with commas when used in conjunction with a month and date. AP photo captions appear to omit a comma after the year when describing a file photo or earlier photo. Is this an intentional exception or is this because in those contexts the full date is a modifier? Example: In this May 12, 1999 photo, .... – from St. George, Utah on Sun, Dec 04, 2016

A. Dropping that comma is incorrect. The photo caption format in the online Stylebook uses a comma after the year: In this Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, photo provided by ...

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