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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. 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. Yes, the title is an appositive set off by a comma.

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. 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 of 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. 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 ...

Q. Have or Has? If you or a member of your travel party has/have special needs... Thanks for your help! – from Cathedral City, Calif. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Use the singular verb in this formulation.

Q. Is 123 Main St., Apt. 456 still the recommended structure for an address with an apartment or suite? Or should it be 123 Main St. Apt. 456? – from Winston-Salem, N.C. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. The first is correct with a comma.

Q. okay, my editing colleagues and I have looked everywhere for this but don't want to trust anything unless and until you, the editor of the AP Styleguide, agree. Is it over insure, over-insure or overinsure? – from Kettering, Ohio on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Using the Stylebook's "over-" guidance for the combining form, overinsure as an unhyphenated compound.

Q. For a city that stands along in a dateline, does that extend to its county as well, assuming it is the same name as the city? In this instance, I'm referring to "San Diego County." Does that need to be followed by "Calif."? – from San Francisco on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Within the story, San Diego County would be clear.

Q. I know the rule for capitalization for agencies is as follows: "State and Justice must resolve their differences." But: Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state. Is it also true that the U.S. Navy would be lowercase in this instance?: %uFFFFHe manages programs through the deputy assistant secretaries of the navy for ships and unmanned systems.%uFFFF It looks strange for the Navy to be lowercase there. Thank you. – from Washington on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Navy is always capitalized when referring to U.S. forces.

Q. Should "well versed" contain a hyphen in the following sentence? "Our professionals are well versed in complex auditing services." – from , on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Yes, hyphenate well-versed.

Q. Should "chip card" be hyphenated in the following: ...pushed back the deadline for installing chip card readers...? Thank you! – from Denver on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Consider it a noun phrase: chip card readers.

Q. Want or wants? Only about 1 in 4 people in the United States wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor's health care law that extended coverage to millions, according to a poll. – from Washington, D.C. on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Try rephrasing: Only about 1 person in 4 wants President-elect Donald Trump ... (The U.S. polling sample should be understood.)

Q. what's the correct grammar - i've seen it multiple ways, lack on consistency. Do you say - in the iTunes Store or on the iTunes store when referring to a podcast you can find there. And ditto for on Google Play or in Google Play – from New York on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. The headline atop AP's weekly list: The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store. Also, on Google Play seems to be slightly preferred to in Google Play in AP news archives.

Q. Hello. In the issue of the prefix non, the rule is no hyphen when forming a compound that "does not have special meaning." Could an example be given about what a "special meaning" entails? – from Bowling Green, Ohio on Fri, Dec 02, 2016

A. Examples include names with proper nouns: Non-Aligned Movement, non-Euclidean geometry, non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Q. Should Fantastic Beasts, used as shortened version of the full title of this 2016 JK Rowling movie, be capped and in quotes? Thank you – from Gainesville, Fla. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Yes, but use the full capitalized title in quotes on first reference.

Q. Hi, I've looked around and can't find the proper abbreviation for the Saudi Arabian Riyal. Would it be SAR or SR ? For 99 Riyals, would it be SAR99, SR99, SAR 99, or SR 99 ? Thanks. – from Jeddah , XX on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. AP stories spell out the currency name, as in: A new gas project will be worth more than 50 billion Saudi riyals ($13.3 billion) when complete in 2019.

Q. We're referring to a list of things that start with e as "the four Es." Would it be the four Es or the four E's? – from Encinitas, Calif. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. The four E's, using guidance in the SINGLE LETTERS section of the "plurals" entry.

Q. A recent headline had it: How DirecTV Now compares to other online TV services Is that correct style for "compares to" or should it be "compares with"? I think the latter but see it the other way all the time. – from Chicago on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. If the story illustrates differences, the headline should use compares with, as explained in the Stylebook entry.

Q. The entry for "Indian" says to follow the person's preference for whether you use Indian or Native American. I'm writing a story and I interviewed multiple Native people who have different preferred terms %uFFFF what should I do throughout the story if I want consistency? – from Evanston, Ill. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. You could note high in the story that the subjects use various terms to describe themselves. Then cite the preference when each is quoted.

Q. How would you write four pounds 11 ounces in a story, as in "The baby was four pounds and 11 ounces"? – from Scottsdale, Ariz. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Use figures for the measurement. The baby weighs 4 pounds, 11 ounces.

Q. how do you abbreviate master of philosophy degree? – from Decatur, Ga. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. M.A. in philosophy. See "academic degrees" for guidance on when the abbreviation is acceptable.

Q. Is it first quarter results or first-quarter results? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. AP business stories generally hyphenate the modifier: first-quarter results.

Q. Hi. Would you need a comma in this series: ... from PCs to TVs to mobile devices. Thanks! – from New York on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. No comma needed.

Q. We expect the project to be on-schedule, on-budget and on-time. Do we need the hyphens? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. No.

Q. Is it year to date or year-to-date? – from Newark, N.J. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. It's hyphenated as a modifier preceding a noun: year-to-date results. Standing alone, it's often without hyphens.

Q. In a retail setting, is point-of-sale always hyphenated? We do hyphenate when used as a modifier, as in "point-of-sale (POS) system". – from Portland, Ore. on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. Probably not in this usage: The point of sale is the location where a customer and a retailer complete a transaction.

Q. My team is torn: cost/benefit ratio or cost-benefit ratio? I saw a 2009 question asking whether it should be with or without the hyphen, but some people here are arguing for a /! – from New York on Thu, Dec 01, 2016

A. See the "slash" entry for guidance.

Q. In the sentence: A blood drive is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the post recreation center. Is a apostrophe and s needed to show possession between the post and the recreation center? Also is a comma needed after Saturday? – from Knightdale, North Carolina on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. No and no; on isn't needed, either.

Q. In the sentence: There has been a high demand for blood in recent weeks and this drive is one of many being held in the Greater Baltimore area to help replenish the supply Matthews said. Is a comma needed between supply and Matthews? – from Knightdale, North Carolina on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Yes, add comma before the attribution. Also, add comma before and joining two independent clauses.

Q. Abbreviate "e-commerce" to "e-comm" or "e-com?" – from CARDIFF, Calif. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Haven't seen either abbreviation for e-commerce. A short form could be confusing. Better spell it out.

Q. Can muscular dystrophy be abbreviated as MD in a headline? – from Athens, Ga. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. I don't see any uses of the abbreviation in AP stories, which spell out muscular dystrophy.

Q. So, I saw the answer with respect to "riot" and your saying it had "legal implications" and thus any use of the word should be attributed. The dictionary definition seems to fit mthe Nov. 30, 2016, story "Charlotte officer to face no charges in black man's killing," by Jeffery Collins and Tom Foreman Jr., and yet the AP writers are using the innocuous word "unrest," which certainly does not fit the bill. I have also seen "protest turned violent" used in similar stories. Webster's New World Dictionary's definition of "riot": "1 wild or violent disorder, confusion, or disturbance; tumult; uproar; 2 a violent public disturbance of the peace, by a number of persons (specified, in law, usually as three or more) assembled together ..." What sort of legal other legal implications are you inferring? – from MARYVILLE, Tenn. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Rioting is a crime, which can result in charges, so use of the term in a news story should be with proper sourcing -- law enforcement, prosecutors or other officials.

Q. In baseball, would you refer to the batter's box, batters box, batters' box or something else entirely? – from Cranberry Township, Pa. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. AP baseball stories use batter's box.

Q. I'm unsure how your presentation of lame-duck (as follows) is meant to suggest whether it's hyphenated or not. Can you clarify what putting noun before the term, and adjective after it, means? Many thanks. (n.) lame-duck (adj.) – from Mayfield Village, Ohio on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Unhyphenated noun in an AP story: "Any time you have an incumbent sitting there as a lame duck, an agency doesn't respond as effectively and it's harder to hire people and get them to stay." Hyphenated as adjective in an AP story: That would leave final spending decisions for the post-election lame-duck Congress.

Q. Please advise if the following sentence should have a semicolon after 'call volume', or if the current comma in place is appropriate. Also, would it be better to use 'and' instead of 'as well as', or does that cause confusion? Thank you for your assistance. "As one of two managers, she is responsible for managing and creating policies and procedures, staffing models, and call volume, as well as driving team performance." – from Omaha, Neb. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. No colon after call volume. The comma followed by as well as reads fine. However, if managing and creating doesn't apply to staffing models and call volume, add appropriate verbs before those terms.

Q. How would you transcribe a quotation that included a phrase what would, in all likelihood, be written with a forward slash in text? "... bringing two worlds together, which is the mobile/handheld and the usual console experience." (The person said "mobile handheld," but in this context, the two terms are connected as descriptors for a segment of the video game industry.) – from New York on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. AP technology stories have paired the terms without a slash. One example: Repetitive motion injuries, which have long afflicted desktop and laptop computer users, are invading the mobile handheld world.

Q. As a noun, is it "jump start" (as it appears in dictionaries) or "jump-start" (as in an earlier Ask the Editor submission that did not specify part of speech but called for hyphen)? – from Bedford, N.H. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Webster's NWCD, Fifth Edition, the Stylebook's main reference, hyphenates both verb and noun forms: jump-start.

Q. I've always been told to spell out the first word of a sentence. For example if the sentence begins with an age "Ten-year-old boy" "December 2 was the coldest day of the year." Is this correct? – from Tucson , Ariz. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. Yes, with a few exceptions. In citing a year to start a sentence, use the numeral: 2016 is coming nearing an end. Your first example should start with an article: A 10-year-old boy ... The 10-year-old boy. The other option uses a name: Ten-year-old Bobby Smith .. In your second example, the month is abbreviated with the calendar date: Dec. 2 was the coldest day of the year.

Q. I am not sure how to write managers as both possessive and/or plural for these to instances: 1) Please take a few minutes to complete the U.S. People Managers%uFFFF Meeting survey 2) Dear U.S.-based People Managers, – from Colorado Springs, Colo. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. You don't need a possessive in the first example. The second looks OK. If U.S. People Managers Meeting is the formal name of the event, it could be capitalized. However, people managers isn't a formal title, per se, so AP would lowercase it in the salutation.

Q. What's the correct style for this TV show: "Hawaii Five-O" (with the letter O) or "Hawaii Five-0" (with a zero)? – from Philadelphia on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. The show's website uses 0, or zero on a standard keyboard: "Hawaii Five-0"

Q. When quoting a source who has responded to a question by email, does the subject "say" something in an email or "write" something in an email? e.g. The weather was fine day, Joe Smith said in an email. OR The weather was fine that day, Joe Smith wrote in an email. – from Bloomington, Ind. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. While both formulations are used in AP stories, said in an email is used much more often.

Q. Is it correct to say: We've seen a 53 percent increase in the number of individuals under the age of 54 who need end-of-life care. or We've seen a 53 percent increase in the number of individuals younger than age 54 who need end-of-life care. – from Waukesha, Wis. on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

A. ... individuals under age 54 who need ...

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