Ask the Editor

Last Seven Days

Answer

No. Only before a person's name. Here's the entry.


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We recommend not using the term.

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Yes.

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No, it's lowercase.

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Were is correct. Here's the explanation:


subjunctive mood 


Use the subjunctive mood of a verb for contrary-to-fact conditions, and expressions of doubts, wishes or regrets:

If I were a rich man, I wouldn't have to work hard.
I doubt that more money would be the answer.
I wish it were possible to take back my words.

Sentences that express a contingency or hypothesis may use either the subjunctive or the indicative mood depending on the context. In general, use the subjunctive if there is little likelihood that a contingency might come true:

If I were to marry a millionaire, I wouldn't have to worry about money.
If the bill passes as expected, it will provide an immediate tax cut.

Question from on May 29, 2020

Since 2012, they have been Monroe County, NY’s choice in childcare services.
  • There was an entry from 2009 that advised against this awkwardness generally, but if we absolutely had to use it, would this be correct? Or should there be a comma after "NY's"? Thank you! 

Answer

There's not a good way of doing it if for some reason you absolutely had to use it. Just accept that whatever you do won't be right. That said, I would do it as you have it if you have to use that construction. Adding the usual second comma would just add to the chaos.

AP style writes out the state name. 

Question from Seattle, WA on May 29, 2020

Greetings, 

This message is longer than requested, but I feel it's of more value than it would be in shorter chunks. I hope you agree!

I do some volunteer editing for an organization called Under the Rainbow. That umbrella organization produces a variety of programs. One of them is a monthly storytelling show called Under the Rainbow Storytelling, and I'm wondering if it should be _Under-the-Rainbow Storytelling_ instead. [Italics just for this context of spotlighting the phrase for you.] 

I reviewed the AP guidelines on hyphens, and feel that the following points recommend that approach: "use a hyphen in modifiers of three or more words" and "use a hyphen if it's needed to make the meaning clear and avoid unintended meanings." The unintended meaning is a mild one, but it might trip people up a bit. 

I also noted the 2019 change about not using hyphens for compound proper nouns and adjectives, though I'm not sure if that only applies to issues of dual heritage such as _African American_.

What says you?  

Also, if we go with the hyphens and I ever refer to the storytelling show as _Under-the-Rainbow_ for short, would you recommend retaining those hyphens to distinguish the reference from the umbrella organization? If I were to initialize it for casual/admin communication (as would probably be the case with the other abbreviation), would you recommend _U-T-RS_, _UTRS_, _UtRS_, _URS_ or something else? In relation to the umbrella organization, I'm adding the option of _U.R._, as per some of the AP suggestions, though I'm not sure what the stance is on prepositions. 

Thanks very much for any help.

Answer

I see it's in Edmonds. What a lovely town! I visited often when I lived in Shoreline.

Under the Rainbow Storytelling seems to be pretty firmly entrenched as the style for the show's name, so it's a little late to think about changing it. And in this case, I wouldn't use a style in your stories that's different from the style the show uses. (I realize that opens up the whole question of style on company names, etc.)

As for whether the hyphens should have been used to begin with, it's one of the many gray areas of hyphen judgment. I agree with NOT using the hyphens here. Yes, there's the guideline on modifiers of three or more words. But for reasons that I can't quite articulate, I think this should be an exception. I don't think there's really any potential for confusion without the hyphens, thanks to Dorothy and her friends (even though we're talking under rather than over). Adding hyphens here looks unsightly and unnecessary to me.

Our removal of hyphens from African American, Asian American and other dual-heritage terms applied only to those terms, not to compound proper nouns and adjectives in general.

You saw my previous answer on the last point. Presumably the organization has its own style for such an abbreviation and I'd use that, if you need to use an abbreviation.





Answer

Yes.

Answer

How about this (and note who rather than whom. Doe said he was wanted, not Doe said him was wanted): 

Sheriff John Doe congratulated members of his staff for their part in the capture of a man who Doe said was wanted in connection with the rape of a minor.

Answer

It depends on how specific you want to be. Here's the entry:

South 


Use South to describe the 16-state region as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau that is broken into three divisions. Capitalize Southern as an adjective describing the region.
The four East South Central states are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The eight South Atlantic states are Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
The four West South Central states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
There is no official U.S. Census Bureau definition of Southeast.
For directions, south and southern. See directions and regions.
See Midwest, Northeast and West for the bureau's other regional breakdowns.

Answer

Pacific Northwest.


Answer

Yes, as you suggest.

Answer

Trompe l’Oeil

Answer

We wouldn't use DOJ on second reference if you first used Justice Department and not Department of Justice

Answer

Our style is off-site and on-site.

Answer

Nonfossil fuels.

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The more common phrasing is to bring a criminal to justice or to bring to justice a criminal. I agree with your preference on the other: bring justice for the victim's family.

Answer

Do you need to list their credentials? If so, use the first option you listed.

Answer

We use MBA, no periods, but M.A. and M.S. with the periods. We don't have entries for CPA or RN, but follow the style of our primary dictionary, Webster's New World College Dictionary, which uses no periods for those two.

We don't list a string of credentials after a name. If you want to do that, your other source's style sounds like your go-to.

Stylebook:

Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration  Abbreviated M.A., M.S., but MBA. A master's degree or a master's is acceptable in any reference.

Webster's New World College Dictionary:
CPA  n. , pl. CPAs certified public accountant
RN  n. , pl. RNs registered nurse

Answer

We'd make the later references Tupelo police.

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I'd put the comma after products to separate the clauses:  They transport, store, export and market products, and provide other fee-based processing services.


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We don't have a firm rule on that. I'd say it depends on how familiar the term is. For instance: They are working on facial recognition, also known as face recognition.  But the gadget is also known as "whippersplitty."

Answer

We don't address citation numbers. Sorry!

Answer

It depends on whether what follows including is an essential phrase or a nonessential phrase.

With nonessential phrases, do use a comma: I have a lot of tasks today, including responding to Ask the Editor questions, sending lots of emails and doing a Twitter chat.

With essential phrases, don't use a comma:  Send a letter including your username and street address.



Answer

It's a little complicated. Our entries for pre- and post- both say: Follow Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there.

So the next step is to check the dictionary. It lists prenatal and postnatal, with no hyphen for either. So, perhaps you could rewrite to say prenatal and postnatal care (or care before and after birth).

If you want to keep the abbreviated version, then use my "common sense sometimes must override style" informal guidance and use hyphens. You need hyphens after both pre and post to connect those elements  (pre- and post-natal care) following this guidance:


SUSPENSIVE HYPHENATION: Use these forms to shorten a compound modifier or a noun phrase that shares a common word:
When the elements are joined by and or or, expressing more than one element: 10-, 15- or 20-minute intervals; 5- and 6-year-olds. But: The intervals are 10, 15 or 20 minutes; the children are 5 to 6 years old.
When the elements are joined by to or by, expressing a single element: a 10-to-15-year prison term; an 8-by-12-inch pan. But: The prison term is 10 to 15 years; the pan is 8 by 12 inches.

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