Ask the Editor Style Guidance
Ask the Editor highlights
Ask the Editor is a forum on writing, style and phrasing issues that go beyond the pages of the AP Stylebook. AP Stylebook editor Paula Froke fields questions posed by subscribers to AP Stylebook Online. Below is a sampling of recent questions Paula has answered.
Click on a topic below to learn more about AP style:
Question from on May 16, 2022
Question from Waco, Texas, on May 09, 2022
OB-GYN Acceptable in all references for obstetrics and gynecology, a medical specialty.
Question from Dover, Delaware, on May 06, 2022
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Question from Brookings, South Dakota, on May 06, 2022
Question from Chicago, Illinois, on Oct. 30, 2017
I understand AP prefers not to list multiple academic titles, but if this is necessary due to the nature of content, would the titles include periods or not?
John Smith, DNP, RN, MS or John Smith, D.N.P., R.N., M.S.
Under the guidance in this entry, it would be DNP, R.N., M.S. (Periods for two-letter abbreviations, no periods for the longer ones.)
Question from Kansas City, Missouri, on Feb. 21, 2019
Hi. I feel sure this is covered somewhere, but I can't find it. What is style for RN and LPN? Just like that, with no periods?
Question from South Bend, Indiana, on April 27, 2022
My question is this: Do we refer to any of the entities within the Federal Reserve as the Fed on second reference? For example, are all of these acceptable:
Federal Reserve (Fed)
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (Fed)
Federal Open Market Committee (Fed)
Federal Reserve Board (Fed)
Federal Reserve System (Fed)
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve: On second reference, it should be the board or the Fed’s board.
Federal Open Market Committee: Yes, Fed is acceptable as a shorthand. (Or, alternatively, the FOMC.) This is the committee within the Fed that determines interest rate policy.
Federal Reserve Board: No, same as the second one above: On second reference, the board or the Fed’s board.
Federal Reserve System: Fed is "probably acceptable," according to our beat writer. He says: "Sorry to hedge – I don’t think the Econ team has ever had occasion to refer to the Federal Reserve System at all – on first or second reference! "
Question from South Carolina, on May 17, 2022
1. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from...
2. She holds a bachelor of science in nursing from...
3. She holds of Bachelor of Science in Nursing from...
Previous entries used #1 but a recent AP News story has all lowercase. Article link: https://apnews.com/article/oklahoma-f5238ff1041bd730c66b7c38d61aa420
Thanks for any help on this!
Question from ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, on May 17, 2022
Question from Orange Beach, Alabama, on May 13, 2022
Question from east lansing, Michigan, on May 13, 2022
brown (adj.) Avoid this broad and imprecise term in racial, ethnic or cultural references unless as part of a direct quotation. Interpretations of what the term includes vary widely. Be specific.
Question from on May 09, 2022
Question from Boulder, Colorado, on May 16, 2022
Question from Louisville, Kentucky, on April 19, 2022
Question from Kalamazoo, Michigan, on April 14, 2022
Question from Washington, District of Columbia, on May 13, 2022
1) She answered seven of the 12 questions correctly. The class average was 8.2 out of 12, and students who got at least nine answers right were allowed extra recess time.
2) She answered 7 of the 12 questions correctly. The class average was 8.2 out of 12, and students who got at least 9 answers right were allowed extra recess time.
Question from Waukesha, Wisconsin, on May 10, 2022
Capitalize the word top if it’s part of the formal name of a list or a shortened version of a formal list: the AP Top 25, Spotify’s Global Top 50; the rapper has a number of Top 10 pop hits. Lowercase in informal uses: It’s regarded as one of the top five parks in the state.
Question from Texas, on April 29, 2022
Question from Texas, on April 28, 2022
...has opened a twenty-day comment
Question from on April 18, 2022
Question from Texas, on April 28, 2022
Generation has averaged 20% and 40% for LOS Units 1 and 2.
Generation averaged 20% and 40% for LOS Units 1 and 2.
If it's ongoing, use has: It has averaged 20% from March 1 to the present.
Question from Leesburg, Virginia, on March 21, 2022
The SkillsUSA Georgia State Championships is coming this spring.
Where this gets a little confusing is within subsequent references. Would we maintain that singularity throughout?
The SkillsUSA Georgia State Championships is coming this spring. The state championships (is/are) attended by thousands each year.
Also, is lowercase appropriate there on the second reference? Thanks so much.
Maybe rephrase by adding the word "event," if you don't want to use the plural: The SkillsUSA Georgia State Championships event is coming this spring.
On later references, definitely the plural verb, and lowercase.
Question from on Feb. 23, 2022
Here's our guidance:
Question from Faribault, Minnesota, on Feb. 05, 2022
Overthinking things here. Would you use "were" or "was" in this sentence?
There were $2.9 million in additional commitments to lend to borrowers.
Use were. It becomes a lot easier when you think of it this way: 2.9 million dollars in additional commitments ...
Question from Alexandria, Virginia, on Jan. 27, 2022
Will you be able to concentrate with me hanging around?
Will you be able to concentrate with my hanging around?
Question from Omaha, Nebraska, on May 17, 2022
Help make our Bill & Ted themed party an "excellent adventure."
Is the period properly placed? What if it was an exclamation mark? Would that change things?
PLACEMENT WITH OTHER PUNCTUATION: Follow these long-established printers' rules:
Elaboration from the exclamation point entry:
PLACEMENT WITH QUOTES: Place the mark inside quotation marks when it is part of the quoted material: "How wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Never!" she shouted.
Question from Austin, on May 16, 2022
Question from Austin, Texas, on May 12, 2022
Across the American West, a 22-year megadrought deepened so much last year that the region is now in the driest spell in at least 1,200 years — a worst-case climate change scenario playing out in real time, a study found last month.
Question from Lewiston, Idaho, on May 10, 2022
Riverborne transportation and hydropower production are both central to the dam-versus-fish debate.
Question from Washington, District of Columbia, on May 09, 2022
In its January 14, 2022, letter, the company acknowledged receipt of Mr. Doe's response.
Here's the guidance:
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