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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. I have a 70-page publication that has small paragraphs set apart throughout that start with the word NOTE: in all caps and bold for emphasis, but the rest of the text is normal, not bold. I am being asked to italicize each full note. Is the use of italics frowned upon for entire paragraphs? Our readers are at a 6th-grade reading level on average. – from Madison, Wis. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. That's a typographic design decision. AP doesn't use italics in news stories because of transmission issues. However, the printed AP Stylebook uses italics for examples within the individual entries to contrast with regular body type.

Q. Would a chain headquartered in Canada be "Canada-based" or "Canadian-based"? (I see "British-based" in a stylebook entry, but I wouldn't describe something based in Texas as "Texan-based.") – from Memphis, Tenn. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. Yes, Canada-based is the more precise term. In the AP news archive, stories using Britain-based far exceed the other form.

Q. If you have two consecutive dates, would you use a hyphen or the word and between them? For example, May 26 and 27, 2016, or May 26-27, 2016? – on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. The year is rarely needed with calendar dates within the same year. May 26-27 suffices.

Q. How should one attribute a quotation or information from a webinar, when you don't know the name of its creator? – from , Kansas City, Mo. on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. AP would determine the organizer of the webinar and verify the information or quotation before using.

Q. Should the "every day" clauses be separated with semicolons not commas in the below direct quote? Based on the semicolon entry in the punctuation guide I think technically they should be, but I think that takes away from the "I'm reminded..." part of the quote that they lead up to. Thanks! "Every day I pass through the gates, every day I see a beret out there, every day I see a patrol car out there; I%uFFFFm reminded of what we do." – from AE, AP on Thu, May 26, 2016

A. "Every day I pass through the gates. Every day I see a beret out there. Every day I see a patrol car out there. I'm reminded of what we do."

Q. Hello, when quoting written material from sources such as other magazines or newspapers, do you keep their capitalization? Your "Quotes Within Quotes" entry doesn't cover this per se, although it does say to follow standard writing style. But if another publication chooses to capitalize certain terms, such as "First Lady," for example, I feel that changing that to conform to style is changing their voice. But not changing it would be confusing if the term also appears in non-quoted material a different way. I'm sure you will say to just not do this, which is sensical and obvious enough, but it's not an ideal world, and sometimes it's unavoidable. – from Boston on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. You're probably referring to "quotations in the news," which advises Stylebook users to follow basic writing style. Because first lady isn't an official title, it's lowercase in AP news stories, including quotes. However, when quoting historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, AP would use those spellings and capitalizations.

Q. Hello, when saying that someone can be reached on Twitter at their twitter handle, do you say "at @twitterhandle," or do you leave off the first "at" and just say, "You can reach twitter handle @twitterhandle"? – from Boston on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Omit "at" before @twitter .

Q. In numerical ranking, of say, students, for example, should we follow the usual rules for numerals? "The top students who finished first and second received awards, but the ones who placed 10th and 11th were recognized, too." – from St. Louis, Mo. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Correct.

Q. I'm confused about the noun for time-share ... or is it timeshare or time share? Webster's seems to say it should be time-share -- which conflicts with what you've recommended in the past. Am I reading Webster's definition wrong? Thanks! – from Centreville, Va. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. In the absence of a Stylebook entry, we generally defer to the dictionary. Previous Q&A's here were based on Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, which listed time sharing and time share as nouns and time-share as the adjective. In the Fifth Edition, published in 2015, Webster's NWCD changed to time-share (n.) and added hyphenated verb forms: time-shared, time-sharing. This edition also has a separate entry for the American noun: time sharing.

Q. Is there any rule for how to abbreviate a plural with (s) [e.g., fellowship(s)] when the word ends in a -y [e.g., residency(s)]? Should is be residency(s), residency(ies) or just spell them out, residency/residencies? – from Orlando, Fla. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. The plural is residencies using WORDS ENDING IN Y guidance of "plurals" entry.

Q. Is making descriptors parallel writer's preference or an English rule? For example: "The girl was fetching, daring and full of charm" should be corrected to "fetching, daring and charming" to match present participle? Also, "Mary likes hiking, swimming and to bicycle" should be "hiking, swimming and bicycling." – from Atlanta on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Use the form that's clearest for the context. In the first sentence, "full of charm" seems more expressive than "charming." In the second example, the parallel form "bicycling" seems more natural than "to bicycle."

Q. The question regarding former and ex-Marine was not answered. (response here: http://www.apstylebook.com/online/?do=ask_editor&id=31559). Please answer the question. As a Marine veteran of 11 years, I take offense to the term "ex-marine", as it is only reserved for those who are expelled from our Corps. "Former Marine" is acceptable, however it's better to say "former active-duty Marine", to clarify that the individual is no longer active-duty. "Once a Marine, always a Marine." – from Shrewsbury, MA on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. Yes, AP avoids ex- in this context. Generally AP uses retired for career Marines or former for those who served in the Marine Corps, in which active duty would be understood.

Q. Could I shorten "... are adding 35 million to 40 million Takata inflators to the recall" to "... are adding 35-40 million Takata inflators to the recall"? Or perhaps "35 to 40 million"? – from Tokyo on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. OK to express this range as 35-40 million ...

Q. Should it be "Farm to Table" or " Farm-to-Table" as a stand-alone subhead in an article? – from Orysia McCabe, Middletown, N.Y. on Wed, May 25, 2016

A. The Stylebook entry is farm-to-table.

Q. Is English as a Second Language capped, or is it English as a second language? I've been lowercasing it, but I more often see it capped when spelled out. Thanks. – from Bohemia, N.Y. on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. English as a second language on first reference, then ESL may be used on follow-ups.

Q. Does AP recommend deep-seated or deep-seeded (as in, "take on deep-seated social issues")? – from Waltham, MA on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. Deferring to the dictionary listing: deep-seated.

Q. Why don't you just remove the Ask the Editor question about punchline (answer for which says two words) when below it says it should be solid per the dictionary? – from Chicago on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. In the only Q&A, it's punch line, two words, as spelled in the dictionary.

Q. Is self-published hyphenated as a verb? In Webster's New World College Dictionary it has the term hyphenated but does not specify whether thats as a verb or as an adjective. – from AE, AP on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. Yes, the adjective and verb forms are hyphenated.

Q. Would AP cap bhakti yoga or the practice of kirtan? – from Farmington, Maine on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. In a single use in the AP news archive, Bhakti yoga was capitalized. A few uses of kirtan were spelled lowercase.

Q. Are teams capitalized or not? Should it be "The Thunderbird Rodeo Team is proud to compete." OR "The Thunderbird rodeo team is proud to compete."? What about the Thunderbird Women's Basketball Team OR the Thunderbird women's basketball team? – from Casper, Wyo. on Tue, May 24, 2016

A. An AP story would capitalize Thunderbird, the team name, but generally lowercase the sports type, such as rodeo team or women's basketball team.

Q. Is AP OK with HQ in a hed? – from Mount Pleasant, S.C. on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. Yes, HQ is a frequent abbreviation in AP headlines.

Q. In the sentence "Two-time Academy Award winner Jessica Lange has been cast in a new series," is a hyphen between Award and winner necessary? – from Portland, Ore. on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. No hyphen needed in that particular usage.

Q. In the following sentence, individuals need to do one thing, then another. Which of the following is the proper punctuation? 1. Clear your responses, then try again. 2. Clear your responses; then, try again. 3. Clear your responses; then try again. Thank you for your help. – from Bloomington, Ill. on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. Go with the first example per the dictionary entry: following the comma, then (adv.) with conjunctive force.

Q. In describing types of pollution, experts refer to "point-source pollution" and "nonpoint-source pollution." Have I punctuated these correctly in AP Style? – from Midland, MI on Mon, May 23, 2016

A. Those spellings look right, although AP news stories have varied in the past.

Q. Different dictionaries list correct spelling as either night-light or nightlight. Which is AP style? – from Jackson, MI on Sun, May 22, 2016

A. It's night light, two words, in Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition, the Stylebook's primary reference.

Q. I am working on a list of undergraduate degrees, and after reviewing the "academic degrees" listing as well as the "Ask the Editor" files, I still cannot determine what to do. Here is the list: bachelor of business administration, bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of music in music education, the bachelor of social work. Are any of these words capitalized? The only one I think should be is Bachelor of Music. Is this correct? Also, should they be listed as bachelor's (bachelor's of business administration, etc.)? – from Huntington, Ind. on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. These academic degrees with specialties are correctly lowercase, including bachelor of music in music education. AP also writes these degrees as bachelor's in business administration, bachelor's in fine arts, etc. However, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science are capitalized.

Q. Does AP distinguish between "bathroom" and "restroom"? Bathroom seems like it refers to private homes, that have bathtubs, while restroom seems more appropriate for public places like restaurants and gas stations. – from New York on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. The Stylebook doesn't have entries for these terms, but AP stories generally follow the dictionary distinctions as you outline. However, in common parlance, bathroom is frequently used in referring to a public toilet and washroom.

Q. When discussing when grand juries decline to indict, is it "no-bill" or "no bill?" – from Dallas on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. AP stories from Texas on grand juries have used no-bill.

Q. Hi. I note the "state of New York" construction, but what if you need to include "state" in e.g., "New York State"; is it lowercase or initial-capped? Thanks. – from Flagstaff, Ariz. on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. Lowercase state using guidance in the MISCELLANEOUS section of the "state names" entry.

Q. For the bracero program, which brought farm workers from Mexico to the U.S., is Bracero Program capitalized? – from Seaside, Calif. on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. In some AP stories, both words are capitalized. In others, it's Bracero program or bracero program. Various online references also use different spellings. The term refers to a collection of agreements between the U.S. and Mexico during World War II and the postwar years allowing migrant agricultural workers into the U.S. on a temporary basis.

Q. Would you write: "The truck held 20 80-pound pallets" or add a comma: "The truck held 20, 80-pound pallets." Thank you. – from Arlington, Va. on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. The first sentence is literally correct but it would be clearer rephrased to avoid abutting figures. The truck held 20 pallets weighing 80 pounds apiece.

Q. Why does "Western New York" (uppercase W) differ from "upstate New York" (lowercase u)? – from , Arlington, Va. on Fri, May 20, 2016

A. In AP stories the area is spelled western New York, with a lowercase w.

Q. We would like your input on whether we need to continue to use www. on our company URLs within global publications. We have some of our internal customers who would like to eliminate the www. within the publications. What are the AP rules? Thank you. – from Hickory, N.C. on Thu, May 19, 2016

A. AP uses the shorter address form in some cases. However, the full URL address with http:// may offer more protection in linking to a website by some accounts.

Q. I'm looking for guidance on capitalization for events held as part of a university's graduation weekend. The University of Virginia holds several ceremonies, including valedictory exercises and final exercises, as part of the weekend. Based on an Ask the Editor answer from 2013, since commencement exercises should be lowercase, shouldn't valedictory exercises and final exercises be lowercase as well? UVA capitalizes these events so it has become a subject of debate in our newsroom. – from Charlottesville, Va. on Thu, May 19, 2016

A. AP doesn't capitalize valedictory exercises and final exercises in graduation events.

Q. Should it be "Sit-down Restaurants" or "Sit-Down Restaurants" in title case? – from DeKalb, Ill. on Thu, May 19, 2016

A. Capitalize both parts as in the U.S. national anthem example in "composition titles."

Q. Once you reference a NCAA bylaw, do you keep saying NCAA bylaw 15.01.3 or can you just say bylaw 15.01.3 on subsequent entries? – from Indianapolis on Thu, May 19, 2016

A. It should be sufficient to use the full bylaw reference once, then simply the bylaw in follow-ups. If more than one bylaw comes into the text, repeat the numbers or use shorthand terms for each to differentiate.

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