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Answer

Human Resources Department and Information Technology Department. I'd make it customer operations team unless the team is the equivalent of a department, in which case I'd capitalize it. And investor relations lowercase standing alone. That said, companies do tend to like more capital letters than AP style does, so if you need to adopt somewhat different style for your audience, that's certainly an option.

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I'd still use the eBay guidance and make it thinkSRSD. Just to be consistent(ish).

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We are entirely in agreement with you, for exactly the reason you gave: "There's a tendency to overuse parentheses and create defined terms, which is jarring to the reader."

Here's the relevant section of the abbreviations and acronyms entry:

AVOID AWKWARD CONSTRUCTIONS: Do not follow an organization's full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses or set off by dashes. If an abbreviation or acronym would not be clear on second reference without this arrangement, do not use it.
Names not commonly before the public should not be reduced to acronyms solely to save a few words.

On second reference, we use simply the fund for the Taxpayer Relief Fund. As you note, there are no other funds in the story. The reader can figure it out. Similarly, the act on second reference for the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. 

If you must, just use the acronym without putting it in parentheses first. Reasonable readers can figure it out.




Answer

They beta-tested it.


Question from Saint Petersburg, FL on Feb. 22, 2019

Would "hackathon" take quotation marks on first reference?  

Answer

Yes, use the quote marks on first reference.


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No need to include that in later references.


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Those terms and spellings remain in common usage, so we are sticking with them. They are on our list to review in the future, however. Thanks for asking.



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See the full entry. It's Achilles tendon but Achilles' heel, which has a different meaning entirely:

Achilles tendon  No apostrophe for the tendon connecting the back of the heel to the calf muscles. But it's Achilles' heel, with an apostrophe, for a vulnerable spot. 


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There's not a definitive word and there are varying views. I'd make it childrenswear and kidswear for consistency.

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That's correct.


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Yes, hyphenate it in that use.

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I'd make it degree-holders.

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We don't have a Stylebook entry covering this. But our standard practice is to include the time element later in the sentence: 

The Unicameral’s Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on LB 257 (Collateral Insurance/Loss Payee).

If there's a reason to emphasize the time element, it's fine to put it at the front. Or sometimes you might do that just to vary the rhythm of the sentence in the context of the rest of the piece. Be careful, though, because it could be awkward. Think of it in terms of the way people speak. You're more likely to say "I went to the store today" than "today, I went to the store."



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I'd make it this:   energy efficiency and renewable energy programs for the Energy and Environment Sciences Directorate

Question from COLUMBIA, MO on Feb. 20, 2019

12-18 months out 
or 
12 to 18 months out 

?? 

Answer

Either is fine.


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AP style is either the city of Anna Maria or just Anna Maria, if in the context it's clear that you're talking about the city.

On second reference, lowercase the city commission or the commission.

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We don't have a specific style for that. We would use the bulleted list format. I would say, though, that you definitely shouldn't use a capital letter for each item. The rest looks fine but again, it's not a style we would use. 

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I would use the Himalayas, rather than the Himalayan region


Question from KANSAS CITY, MO on Feb. 20, 2019

doctor visit or doctor's visit? Thanks!

Answer

A visit to the doctor, or a health checkup. Perhaps a doctor visit. Definitely not a doctor's visit, unless you're talking about a visit to you by the doctor.


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I'd use furthest, since it's not a physical distance. 

farther, further 


Farther refers to physical distance: He walked farther into the woods.
Further refers to an extension of time or degree: She will look further into the mystery.


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Two words in that usage: He was a part of a team that won ...



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Webster's New World College Dictionary uses one word only for the computer sense:

on•line 

(än´līn´)

adj.  1 designating or of equipment directly controlled by the central processing unit of a computer 2 connected to and ready to receive data from or transmit data to a computer or computer network 3 available on or done through the internet or some other computer network —adv. on or by means of the internet or some other computer network Also written on-line

I don't think there's a settled style for the usage you refer to. I'd use two words, though.


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Yes, I'd hyphenate in that usage.


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AP style doesn't allow for starting sentences with numerals (with a few exceptions): 
AT THE START OF A SENTENCE: In general, spell out numbers at the start of a sentence: Forty years was a long time to wait. Fifteen to 20 cars were involved in the accident. An exception is years: 1992 was a very good year. Another exception: Numeral(s) and letter(s) combinations: 401(k) plans are offered. 4K TVs are flying off the shelves. 3D movies are drawing more fans.


Answer

No. The apples coupled with the sauce make for a good dessert.




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