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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. Which is preferred: electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR)? – from Savannah, Ga. on Tue, Apr 28, 2015

A. Either, and it's the record on second reference rather than an abbreviation.

Q. Is the hyphen correct in "law-enforcement officer," since "law-enforcement" is a compound adjective? – from Fort Wayne, Ind. on Tue, Apr 28, 2015

A. Three nouns in the unhyphenated noun phrase.

Q. Is it same-sex marriage or same sex marriage? same-sex or same sex? – from Washington on Tue, Apr 28, 2015

A. It's same-sex marriage with a hyphen in same-sex.

Q. What are the thoughts on using "yea or nay" in copy? – from University City, Mo. on Tue, Apr 28, 2015

A. It has a place in some situations, such as legislative votes. Mostly, yes or no works well in reporting choices or dilemmas.

Q. Would you cap horde in the term Mongol horde? The dictionary doesn't. – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Tue, Apr 28, 2015

A. No, but it's Golden Horde for the Mongolian khanate of the 13th century.

Q. Is the expression "drugged driving" acceptable or advisable to use when describing a person driving while high or on some kind of drug? – from Madison, Wis. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. It has been used in a few AP stories, also in headlines. It seems rather informal, though. Driving while impaired by drugs is an alternative.

Q. All the entries I see anywhere explaining the difference between "lay" and "lie" refer to something (including people) being laid down. But is it "What lies ahead" or "What lays ahead"? I'm assuming the former... Thanks – from Flagstaff, Ariz. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. What lies ahead is correct.

Q. The sixth edition of the Publications Manual discusses bulleted lists on pages 64-65. What is not clear is how to handle lists with sub-bullets that are in outline form, not within a sentence. Is there a preferred style in the following example?: Objective 1.1: Increased scientific content on LGBTI issues and people at international psychological conferences. Progress Milestones Year 2 %uFFFD 5th Congress of the ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS), Singapore, March 25-27 o Track of programming on LGBTI topics with 10 presentations %uFFFD Interamerican Congress of Psychology (SIP), Lima, July 12-16 o Track of programming on LGBTI topics with 10 presentations %uFFFD 52st Annual PAP Convention & 11th Biennial Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology (AASP), Cebu City, August 19-22) o Track of programming on LGBTI topics with 15 presentations %uFFFD 21st PsySSA Congress, September 15-18, Johannesburg o Track of programming on LGBTI topics with 15 presentations Year 3 %uFFFD International Congress of Psychology (ICP) (Yokohama, July 25-29, 2016 o Track of programming on LGBTI issues with 50 presentations %uFFFD 53st Annual PAP Convention (location and dates to be announced) o Track of programming on LGBTI topics with 15 presentations o 22nd PsySSA Congress, Cape Town, September 20 %uFFFD 23, 2016 o Track of programming on LGBTI topics with 15 presentations – from Washington on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. The Chicago Manual of Style might be helpful on this topic. AP Stylebook doesn't get into sub-bullets.

Q. Is the word "incidence" a plural noun already? – from Detroit on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. Perhaps in a collective sense. However, the dictionary uses incidences in an example similar to yours.

Q. Is "for" necessary here: The government will call early elections? The government will call FOR early elections? Thanks. – from Austin, Texas on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. The first suggests that the government has the power to set elections on its own. The second suggests that other bodies are involved in the decision.

Q. When referring to an association's board chair, what is the proper wording? ABC Association Chair John Doe OR ABC Association Board Chair John Doe? – from Madison, Wis. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. Use the spelling of the formal title preceding the name.

Q. How many cities/states can you have in a dateline? Is three too many? E.g., "HILLSDALE, Mich., GREENSBORO, N.C., and BATON ROUGE, La. -- May 1, 2015 -- Today..." Thank you very much!! – from Chicago on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. One city or location in an AP dateline. See "datelines" entry.

Q. Do I include the final slash line when giving a blog address, like the following: www.guardianprotection.com/blog/ Or should I just stop with 'blog'? Thanks – from McLean, Va on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. Render the blog address as written by the blogger, including final slash.

Q. When referring to the 24 "CO-OPs" created in various states under the Affordable Care Act, should the full phrase, "consumer operated and oriented plans," be capitalized? – from Madison, Wis. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. If you need to use the term, better lowercase in a brief definition describing the state co-ops.

Q. Hi, Do you have any updated guidance on the use of "LGBTQ"? We have been using it as such, without periods, and spelling it out on first reference in copy. Thank you. – from , San Francisco on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. The AP Stylebook entry is LGBT. The National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association avoids using the Q because it can stand for either questioning or queer, or sometimes both. However, LGBTQ may be used in quotations or for formal names of organizations or events.

Q. When writing out URLs for either presenting on a web page or in a publication, it seems that many URLs do not require that people type in the http:// prefix, and some sites do not require typing in the www prefix. Additionally, some sites may be trying to brand an easy-to-remember URL (random example, Google.com). The style guide directs us to always include http:// and www. Is this true even if the site prefers publishing a ULR without those prefixes? Thanks in advance for your help with this. – from St. Paul, Minn. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. We also use the shorter address form in some cases. However, the full URL address with http:// may offer more protection in linking to a website.

Q. My article refers to the %uFFFDGreat American Songbook%uFFFD (the canon of important American 20th-century popular songs), and I see that other sources capitalize it as such. But it seems that %uFFFDgreat American songbook%uFFFD would be a better way to render it because it isn't an actual book. How would you render it? Thanks. – from Millburn, N.J. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. In AP stories, usually written as the Great American Songbook without quotes.

Q. In this sentence, is the correct word "incidence" "incidences," or "incidents?": "Detroit has some of the nation's highest incidence of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes." – from Detroit on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. Use the plural incidences.

Q. The term for when an album is released - "dropping" - jargon or well-enough known? – from Mount Pleasant, S.C. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. Perhaps in a casual reference or a direct quote. Using release is clearer, though.

Q. Is it acceptable to use a colon after a question mark, as in the presentation heading "Did I Say That?: A Guide to Active Listening", or would it be better to omit the colon? Thanks, J.J. – from Fanwood, N.J. on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

A. No colon after the question mark, which ends the sentence.

Q. I have searched your "Ask the Editor" archive on whether to treat "smartwatch" as one word or two. In March 2013, you answered unequivocally that "The generic spelling is smart watch (two words)." In two subsequent "Ask the Editor" exchanges that touch on the term "smartwatch," your answers seem to sanction the use of "smartwatch" (one word) as a generic term, even as "smart house" and "smart car" remain two-word terms. I'm confused as to whether your guidance has evolved on "smartwatch" (along with almost all usage I see) or whether your March 2013 answer still holds. It would sure be nice if you corrected any obsolete answers and gave an unequivocal update on this question. Thank you. – from Portland, Ore. on Sun, Apr 26, 2015

A. Yes, spellings have evolved to smartwatch, smartphone. Still two words for smart car and smart house in AP stories.

Q. Would the name of a survey be italicized? If referring to a report created by the survey, would the survey name be considered a title and, if so, in italics or quotation marks? – from Houston, Texas on Sun, Apr 26, 2015

A. In AP news stories, capitalized survey names aren't enclosed in quotes or italicized.

Q. I have this word in a health article, neuro-protective. But when I looked it up in Webster's New World dictionary I couldn't find it BUT it states near is a combining form and many of the other words starting with neuro are not hyphenated so I am thinking it should be neuroprotective. Your thoughts? – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Sat, Apr 25, 2015

A. Though it doesn't appear in AP news archives, neuroprotective looks right based on the neuro- combining form entry in the dictionary.

Q. Hello. In quotes needing brackets for clarification, do you put a comma on the inside of the ending bracket or on the outside? "We don't just kill [a whale] we ask it it to give its life." Where would we the comma? – from Sammamish, Wash. on Sat, Apr 25, 2015

A. The punctuation goes after the close bracket.

Q. My previous submission: How would one petition to have military rank abbreviations updated and standardized with those currently used by the military branches themselves? i.e. PFC vs. Pfc. (Marine Corps), SSG vs. Staff Sgt. (Army), CDR vs. Cmdr. (Navy/Coast Guard), etc. If these abbreviations are intended to simplify understanding ranks for those unfamiliar with them, how would Pfc. be any clearer than PFC when referring to a Marine private first class? %uFFFD from Yorba Linda, Calif. on Sat, Apr 25, 2015 Your response: How is SSG clearer than Staff Sgt., or CDR more understandable than Cmdr.? The Stylebook's rank abbreviations mirror those formerly used by the U.S. military, and readers seem to accept them. My follow-up: Why not use rank abbreviations currently used by the U.S. military? Readers will accept them also. Many things change & evolve, including items in your Stylebook. Your previous response carried a tone of "Because I said so, that's why." – from Yorba Linda, Calif. on Sat, Apr 25, 2015

A. No, it did not. Feel free to use the abbreviations of your choice.

Q. How would one petition to have military rank abbreviations updated and standardized with those currently used by the military branches themselves? i.e. PFC vs. Pfc. (Marine Corps), SSG vs. Staff Sgt. (Army), CDR vs. Cmdr. (Navy/Coast Guard), etc. If these abbreviations are intended to simplify understanding ranks for those unfamiliar with them, how would Pfc. be any clearer than PFC when referring to a Marine private first class? – from Yorba Linda, Calif. on Sat, Apr 25, 2015

A. How is SSG clearer than Staff Sgt., or CDR more understandable than Cmdr.? The Stylebook's rank abbreviations mirror those formerly used by the U.S. military, and readers seem to accept them.

Q. Style-setter or style setter? – from Chicago on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. In occasional uses in AP stories, style-setter.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to refer to special education as special ed., particularly in headlines or on second reference? – from Forest Grove, Ore. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. AP stories have used special ed in headlines. Within stories, special education is spelled out. An exception would be a direct quote using the shorthand term.

Q. What is the correct way to reference thought leaders? Example: The annual event brings together renowned national thought leaders and influential business and political leaders. OR The annual event brings together renowned national thought-leaders and influential business and political leaders. – from Detroit on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Happily, I haven't seen that term -- which seems Orwellian-- used in AP news reports, so I can't offer a spelling. Creative thinkers or opinion-makers might be good substitutes.

Q. Should I use quotes (or use italics) when referring to journals at universities, i.e., Shenandoah, the Washington and Lee University Review or The American Poetry Review? – from , Lexington, Virginia on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Similar to handbooks, encyclopedias and similar publications, titles of scholarly journals and reviews are capitalized but not enclosed in quotes. AP doesn't use italics in news stories. Publications that do have this capability may italicize such titles, though.

Q. I think my earlier question was misunderstood. What is the possessive form of St. Patrick's? St. Patrick's' outreach ministries? – from Largo, Fla. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. No, it wasn't misunderstood. St. Patrick's is correct in both instances. Don't add another apostrophe when using the name with outreach ministries.

Q. Tax deductibility clause or tax-deductibility clause? (I cannot recast; sorry!) – from Kansas City, Mo. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Consider it a noun phrase: tax deductibility clause.

Q. Does AP prefer "system management" or "systems management" (including similar uses, e.g., "system(s) administration)? – from Raleigh, N.C. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Probably the plural form in line with the dictionary's systems analyst.

Q. If a church is called St. Patrick's, what would be proper punctuation for "It is part of St. Patrick's outreach ministries" - possessive is needed, correct? Perhaps it is better to say "It is part of the outreach ministries of St. Patrick's." – from Largo, Fla. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Yes, retain the possessive in St. Patrick's either way.

Q. Which is correct in sentences? Most important or most importantly? See example below: Before the start of the school year, our program managers will meet with all employees to share our plan and vision, provide key timelines and, most importantly, listen and answer any questions. – from Altamonte Springs, Fla. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. The adverb form as written is customary in such sentences.

Q. "Delved deep into X" or "delved deeply into X"? Thank you. – from Buffalo, N.Y. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Either is correct because deep and deeply are adverbs modifying the verb. However, delved deeply is probably the more common expression.

Q. On second reference to the Apple Watch do we write Watch, watch or Apple Watch? – from New York on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Either the watch or Apple Watch on second reference.

Q. I see constructions similar to this one an awful lot: "The caller is irate, intimidating and sounds convincing." The series structure is incorrect because the verb has changed, isn't it? I usually will change it to something like: "The caller is irate and intimidating, and sounds convincing." – from Reading, Pa. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. The series isn't strictly parallel, but it's not jarringly off the mark. There are cases where rephrasing for parallelism improves the construction.

Q. flight suit or flightsuit? – from Milwaukee on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. AP stories use two words for flight suit, the gear worn by pilots.

Q. Which is correct: "We were recently notified," or "We recently were notified." Or doesn't it matter? We appreciate your expertise – from Binghamton, N.Y. on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

A. Either is acceptable because recently modifies the verbs in each usage. If recently were placed after the verb in a fuller sentence, the meaning might change because an adverb normally modifies the word closest to it.

Q. We have some made-up ship names in the school's robotics clubs. Should there be periods in these names? S.S. Lost Cause or S.S. Bentley? And, in general, should there be periods or not in ship names? – from Astoria, Ore. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. No periods. See the "USS" entry for models.

Q. Under the entry for 'on', one of the rules is "Use on to avoid an awkward juxtaposition of a date and a proper name." But what about with proper nouns such as the name of a country. For example, China Thursday said ... ? Is it better to say -- China on Thursday said ? – from Seoul, XX on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Yes, or China said Thursday ...

Q. Should a decimal less than one be followed by a singular or plural noun? For example, is it 0.5 mile or 0.5 miles? From what I understand, numbers between 1 and -1 should be followed by a singular noun. – from Miami on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Use singular noun for decimal less than one: 0.5 mile.

Q. Can capitals and countries be used interchangeably in a government official's title? For example, is the U.S. ambassador to Paris an acceptable substitute for U.S. ambassador to France? Thank you – from Virginia, XX on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. In most ambassadorial references, the country is preferred rather than a capital.

Q. I need clarification re: use of an en-dash for inclusive page, age and date ranges meaning "through" vs. the hyphen as "to". E.g., using the en-dash for "through": The information is included on pages 8%uFFFD12. The meetings will be held June 17%uFFFD20. E.g., using hyphen for "to": The benefit is available for those ages 1-19 years. Although these appear clearly as an en-dash vs. a hyphen in Word, visually distinguishing one from the other on the web is more difficult and in a couple AP examples. Are my examples correct? Thanks! – from OKC, Okla. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. In the ANPA specifications AP follows, there is no en or em dash. AP stories use an underscore with spaces on each side for a thick dash. The en is equivalent to a hyphen, which links two words without spaces.

Q. Looks like Webster's main listing is "sci fi" (no hyphen). Does AP still hyphenate, and if so will it be added to Stylebook? – from Chicago on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. AP entertainment writers use sci-fi. The dictionary also allows the hyphenated spelling for nouns and adjectives.

Q. What would be the proper punctuation in this series of instructions? 1. When I say %uFFFDclimb,%uFFFD you may begin the activity. 2. What questions are there? %uFFFDClimb.%uFFFD I'm wondering about the first bullet. Should there be a comma after "say"? Should "climb" be capitalized? – from Leesburg, Va. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. No comma after say. As a stand-alone instruction, Climb is capitalized.

Q. Another hyphen question, this time involving three words. When referring to an "out of industry expert" would out of industry be hyphenated? I have seen it multiple ways online and it seems like a compound modifier to me, but I've noticed that not all phrases that appear before nouns that are three words get hyphenated. Is there a rule of thumb for phrases containing three words that precede a noun? Thank you! – from Woodbridge , N.J. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Don't think so, and it could be jargon to avoid.

Q. When citing the U.S. Court of Appeals, you use 1st, 2nd, etc. for the district, but what about the state courts of appeal? For example, should I use Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeal, 1st Circuit, or should the circuit number be spelled out as it is in the court docs? – from Maitland, Fla. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. By the Stylebook's "district" entry, use a figure for the ordinal.

Q. Agreement question. Which of these would be correct: "We recommend that Cindy takes..." or "We recommend that Cindy take..."? Incidentally, in the phrasing of my question, was that the appropriate way to use the colon and question mark? – from Harrisburg, Pa. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Use take, the present subjunctive, to express a command or intention. Colon is correct.

Q. How would AP handle the treatment of "1, 2, 3's"? Recasting is not going to happen. Thanks. "The 1,2,3's of banking start here." – from Clemmons , N.C. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Ha! Then you can't use 1-2-3s.

Q. Does AP use "1000 percent" or "1,000 percent"? Thank you. – from Flagstaff, Ariz. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. It's 1,000 with a comma.

Q. I am working on an article that has a city's Parks and Recreation department written as%uFFFDthe city's Parks department%uFFFDin this case would parks be lowercase? It is actually the first reference to the department in the story. – from Orysia, New York City, N.Y. on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Probably lowercase as a shorthand term. If the formal name is substituted, presumably the "d" would be capitalized as well.

Q. Can we abbreviate World War I to WWI on second reference? (The Stylebook isn't clear on this.) – from Tokyo on Thu, Apr 23, 2015

A. Yes.

Q. When referring to the low-budget martial arts film genre, is it chopsocky or chop socky? – from Midland, Texas on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. The slang term doesn't appear in AP news archives.

Q. When you identify someone in a photo caption, but a non-restrictive clause follows that person's name, where should you place the identification? EX: Jane Smith (2nd from R), the committee chairman (2nd from R), (2nd from R) called on fellow members to ... – from Virginia, XX on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Committee chairman Jane Smith, second from right, calls on fellow members ... See PHOTO CAPTIONS entry for details.

Q. America's No. 1 automaker, General Motors, increased sales in the first quarter by 5.3 percent compared with the previous three-month period. Do you need commas to set off General Motors? – from Virginia, XX on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Correct.

Q. Quick question: We are debating about steakhouse. Webster's now says steakhouse is two words, but a 2012 question-and-answer (see below) has it listed as one. Has it been recently updated? What is AP's stance on this as of 2015? Thanks, Q. Is it steakhouse or steak house? %uFFFD from Rye Brook, N.Y. on Sat, Oct 13, 2012 A. Deferring to Webster's one-word spelling: steakhouse. – from Chicago on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. It's steakhouse, one word, in Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, published in the past year.

Q. Is it "Anticipated completion is IN late summer 2015." or "Anticipated completion is late summer 2015" or "Anticipated completion, late summer 2015?" – from Los Angeles on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. The project is expected to be completed in late summer 2015.

Q. Hello, I'm having trouble with subject-verb agreement in the following sentence. Lower electricity costs (mean or means) lower overhead. I found two similar Ask the Editor questions with what seems to be contradicting answers - fewer newborns mean (May 8, 2014) and no panels means (Dec. 4 2014). Can you explain? Thank you! – from Houston on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Lower electricity costs mean lower overhead. Same verb was recommended in both those 2014 Q&A's on subject-verb agreement.

Q. I know that A.P. prefers that ranges be written with figures and dashes (e.g., 10-15 percent), but how would this apply to numbers under 10? For example, would it be 5-10 percent? Or five-10 percent? And does this apply to all ranges or just to percents specifically? – from Harrisburg, Pa. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. By the "percent" entry, always use figures. Same for most other ranges.

Q. Is it years' past or years past? – from Pensacola, Fla. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. No apostrophe in years past.

Q. Hello: I need a clarification on the use of fractions as a measurement of time. Would it be two-and-a-half weeks ago, two and a half weeks ago, or 2 1/2 weeks ago? I can't find a similar entry on your site, so I would appreciate an answer at your earliest convenience. I initially sent this query yesterday. – from Arlington, Va. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Yesterday's query was about years. I responded 2 1/2 years. Same for weeks involving mixed numbers: 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Q. should be breathe, yes? Q. Do periods or semicolons belong at the end of lists? Please see the example below. The group discussed three different issues: - The proper way to breath when exercising. - How exercise increases blood circulation. - The importance of exercising three to five times a week. from Arlington, Texas on Oct 14, 2007 A. AP uses periods, as you have written. – from , on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Yes, the proper way to breathe when exercising.

Q. If you are trying to say that multiple homeowners lost their homes, but each homeowner lost only one home, would you say the homeowners lost their home to foreclosure or the homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure? – from 60015 on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. The homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure.

Q. "I was born in the Bronx, N.Y." or "I was born in Bronx, N.Y."? – from Milwaukee on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. ... in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. Or less formally, in the Bronx, N.Y.

Q. Hi there. Quick question. This may just be a matter of personal preference, but is it "cobblestoned streets" or "cobblestone streets"? – from Cathedral City, Calif. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. They are cobblestone streets.

Q. Is it light bulb (one word) or lightbulb (two words)? – from Truckee, Calif. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

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. When writing a caption, should there be a comma after the state's name. For example: ... in Lancaster, Ohio, on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. Or ... in Lancaster, Ohio on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. Does this also apply to city and country in a caption, such as Berlin, Germany, December 24, 2014. – from Dallas on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Comma after the state and the country when listed with a city.

Q. What is the appropriate way to use the abbreviation of square feet with a number? Are the letters next to the numbers or is there a space? Which is correct: 25,000SF or 25,000SF Likewise, 25K SF when space is tight? Also is SQ. FT. preferred over SF? – from Dallas on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. In tight space situations, 25,000 sq. ft. Otherwise, spell out the measurement: 25,000 square feet, or a 25,000-square-foot area.

Q. If a website falls at the end of a sentence in a paragraph, do you end the sentence with a period? Can it be separated with a colon? ex: Please visit our website at: RXinsider.com – from West Warwick, R.I. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Yes, end the sentence with a period. In the second example, at isn't needed. Please visit our website: RXinsider.com.

Q. For the finger, is it "pinky" or "pinkie"? – from Holly Hill, Fla. on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. The dictionary says pinkie finger.

Q. Should you uppercase or lowercase the word "user" in User ID? Here are two examples. "Log in below if you've previously created a User ID for any of the following:" "Forgot User ID" – from Lanham, MD on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. Unless starting a sentence, user is lowercase.

Q. Should we use 'entr%uFFFDe' or 'starter' for the dish preceding the main meal? Also, what other types of courses are acceptable? So far we have; Appetiser, Starter, Main, Dessert, Side Dish. – from SINGAPORE, XX on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

A. The main dish is generally known as entree. Check the Stylebook's Food Guidelines for other menu possibilities.

Q. When writing an obituary which quotes the deceased parents/sibling, how should you differentiate the deceased from an older sister who is not married? The section on courtesy titles clarified that if I was quoting her mom/dad I would say Mr. X, Mrs. X, but should I refer to the deceased by her first name and last name every time instead of by her last name to differentiate her from her sister? – from Durham, N.C. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. If the sibling is mentioned multiple times, use both the given name and surnames of both the sibling and the deceased to avoid any confusion. The "courtesy titles" entry says Mr. and Mrs. are used only in direct quotes. Mrs. may be used elsewhere if the woman requests it.

Q. When writing about some companies with unconventional capitalization, should we follow their lead? I'm thinking of the Africa-wide satelitte TV service DStv (www.dstv.com), but this applies to other companies too. – from Tokyo on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. The Stylebook's "company names" entry advises: Generally, follow the spelling preferred by the company, but capitalize the first letter of company names in all uses: e.g., Adidas, Lululemon. Exceptions include company names such as eBay, which have a capital letter elsewhere in the name. However, company names should always be capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.

Q. If you look under %uFFFDnumerals%uFFFD in the AP Stylebook, you%uFFFDll see an example of %uFFFDClass of %uFFFD66%uFFFD %uFFFD but if you dig deep into the %uFFFDapostrophe%uFFFD listing in the stylebook's punctuation guide, you%uFFFDll find a %uFFFDclass of %uFFFD62.%uFFFD Uppercase in one "Class," lowercase in the other "class." Which is correct? – from Canton, Conn. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Both depending on the usage. Jim Smith graduated from Madison High School in the Class of '62. Jim Smith, class of '62, is a longtime booster of Madison High athletics.

Q. Would you hyphenate "water upon request only" in the phrase: New mandates such as Brown's "water upon request only" mean that initiatives must not only enter operations ... – from Chicago on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. No, but the phrasing is a bit awkward. How about "water served only by request"?

Q. What are AP's preferred terms for (1) the unindexed pages of the internet and (2) Web pages in that arena used for illegal or semi-legal activity? I'm using "Deepnet" and "Dark Web" (capitalized as such), usually explaining those terms on first use. – from Columbia, S.C. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. I don't see either of those names in the AP news archives. An Internet search shows Invisible Web, capitalized without quotes, so that might be an alternative.

Q. Would you hyphenate "gold medal winning" in this sentence? He played on the United States' gold medal winning Olympic basketball team in 2000. – from Port Orange, Fla. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. ... gold medal-winning Olympic basketball team in 2000.

Q. Still wondering about the use of fractions in reference to time. There used to be an entry about measurements of time in your style book, but I do not see it now. Which way is correct: They took the trip 2 1/2 years ago. OR: They took the trip two and a half years ago. – from Arlington, Va. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Based on the mixed numbers guidance and examples in the "fractions" entry, 2 1/2 years ago.

Q. For recipes, the Stylebook says to spell out tablespoons and teaspoons, which I understand as it will avoid confusion and mistakes, but then to abbreviate grams as g. What's the rule for pounds and ounces? – from Phoenix on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Yes, the "metric system" entry lists g as an acceptable abbreviation for gram if used by a source. We spell out ounces and pounds, though lbs. is used in some sports results.

Q. Would it be "not all lease agreements are created equally" or "not all lease agreements are created equal"? – from San Antonio on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. ... created equal ... but equally fair.

Q. What is the proper style for the phrase "gigabits per second" on first and second reference? [where gigabit = a thousand million (1,000,000,000) bits and gigabyte = (si) 109, one billion (1,000,000,000) bytes] – from , Columbus, Ohio on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. On first reference and follow-ups, spell out gigabits per second.

Q. I understand the "mid-" rule says to only hyphenate when used before a proper noun, but what about when proceeding a compound modifier? Example: "He is projected to be a mid first-round pick in this year's draft." Midfirst-round pick just doesn't look correct. – from Crystal Lake, Ill. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. He is projected to be picked in the middle of the first round of this year's draft.

Q. Baseball question: Phil Hughes owns the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history (186 strikeouts to 16 walks). I'd like to know how to express that in statistics. I've seen "186/16 K/BB ratio," "186:16 K:BB ratio" or simply "11.6 K/BB." Does AP have a preference in this matter? – from East Northport, N.Y. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. This ratio needs an explanation. Go with the written out version.

Q. Would you say someone trying to solve a problem by randomly lashing out is playing whack-a-mole, or Whac-A-Mole (as the arcade game is trademarked)? – from Hyannis, MA on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Make it whack-a-mole. Even the president has used that term.

Q. Time-killer or time killer? – from Chicago on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Two words, no hyphen.

Q. When using the term go-to, as in: he is the go-to lawyer for intellectual property disputes, should go-to be set off with single quotation marks, double quotation marks or no quotation marks? – from New York on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. No quotes, but better to avoid this cliche. He is the dependable lawyer, or the preferred lawyer ...

Q. Which is more appropriate for a news magazine story; 3-dimensionally or three-dimensionally? thanks! – from , Cincinnati, Ohio on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. It's three-dimensionally.

Q. Is it 1-800 number or 800-number? – from University City, Mo. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. It's in the "telephone numbers" entry. The form for toll-free numbers: 800-111-1000.

Q. How do I punctuate the following quotation? "They often say, %uFFFDIf I ever have cancer, I%uFFFDll go there.%uFFFD,%uFFFD she said. – from Houston on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. "They often say, 'If I ever have cancer, I%uFFFDll go there,'" she said.

Q. What is the preferred guideline for numerals in headlines or subheads? For example, "The 6th Best Place" vs. "The Sixth Best Place" – from University City, Mo. on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Use numerals in headlines.

Q. Should it be "died of injuries" suffered or "died from injuries" suffered? I have seen it both ways in news stories. – from Fort Meade, MD on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Either is correct.

Q. Can comma be used to replace "and" for headlines? For example, "Company A Launches ABC for Mobile Phones, Tablets". Thanks. – from Malaysia on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

A. Correct.

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