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JOUR 301 -- AP Stylebook Sections A-D
Terms in this set (73)
abbreviations and acronyms
A few universally recognized abbreviations are required in some circumstances. Some others are acceptable depending on the context. But in general, avoid alphabet soup. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize.
Abbreviations and most acronyms should be avoided in headlines.
Guidance on how to use a particular abbreviation or acronym is provided in entries alphabetized according to the sequence of letters in the word or phrase.
An acronym is a word formed from the first letter or letters of a series of words: laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). An abbreviation is not an acronym.
If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone's credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: John Jones, who has a doctorate in psychology.
Use an apostrophe in bachelor's degree, a master's, etc., but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.
Also: an associate degree (no possessive).
Use such abbreviations as B.A., M.A., LL.D. and Ph.D. only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name — never after just a last name.
When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: John Snow, Ph.D., spoke.
Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference.
See doctor, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration.
Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department, or when department is part of the official and formal name: University of Connecticut Department of Economics.
Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancellor, chairman, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. Lowercase modifiers such as department in department Chairman Jerome Wiesner.
A person is accused of, not with, a crime.
To avoid any suggestion that an individual is being judged before a trial, do not use a phrase such as accused slayer John Jones; use John Jones, accused of the slaying.
Acceptable in all references for anno Domini: in the year of the Lord.
Because the full phrase would read in the year of the Lord 96, the abbreviation A.D. goes before the figure for the year: A.D. 96.
Do not write: The fourth century A.D. The fourth century is sufficient. If A.D. is not specified with a year, the year is presumed to be A.D.
Use the abbreviations Ave., Blvd. and St. only with a numbered address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Spell them out and capitalize when part of a formal street name without a number: Pennsylvania Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when used alone or with more than one street name: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues.
All similar words (alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.) always are spelled out. Capitalize them when part of a formal name without a number; lowercase when used alone or with two or more names.
Always use figures for an address number: 9 Morningside Circle.
Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures for 10th and above: 7 Fifth Ave., 100 21st St.
Abbreviate compass points used to indicate directional ends of a street or quadrants of a city in a numbered address: 222 E. 42nd St., 562 W. 43rd St., 600 K St. NW. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: East 42nd Street, West 43rd Street, K Street Northwest. No periods in quadrant abbreviations NW, SE unless customary locally.
Use periods in the abbreviation P.O. for P.O. Box numbers.
adopt, approve, enact, pass
Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved. Bills are passed. Laws are enacted.
Adverse means unfavorable: He predicted adverse weather.
Averse means reluctant, opposed: She is averse to change.
A secular Palestinian party and former guerrilla movement founded by Yasser Arafat. Do not use with the prefix al-.
Affect, as a verb, means to influence: The game will affect the standings.
Affect, as a noun, is best avoided. It occasionally is used in psychology to describe an emotion, but there is no need for it in everyday language.
Effect, as a verb, means to cause: He will effect many changes in the company.
Effect, as a noun, means result: The effect was overwhelming. He miscalculated the effect of his actions. It was a law of little effect.
Use when deemed relevant to the situation. If someone is quoted as saying, I'm too old to get another job, the age is relevant. Generally, use ages for profiles, obituaries, significant career milestones and achievements unusual for the age. Use ages for people commenting or providing information only if their age is relevant to their comments (e.g., a teenager's comment on video games aimed at that age group). Appropriate background, such as a parent of two young children or a World War II veteran, may suffice instead of the actual age.
Always use figures. The girl is 15 years old; the law is 8 years old; the 101-year-old house. When the context does not require years or years old, the figure is presumed to be years.
Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun.
Examples: A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old. The boy, 7, has a sister, 10. The woman, 26, has a daughter 2 months old. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe).
Aid is assistance.
An aide is a person who serves as an assistant.
Do not abbreviate in datelines or stories. Largest land area of the 50 states. Postal code: AK
The word must be used with great care.
Avoid any suggestion that the writer is making an allegation.
Specify the source of an allegation. In a criminal case, it should be an arrest record, an indictment or the statement of a public official connected with the case.
Use alleged bribe or similar phrase when necessary to make it clear that an unproved action is not being treated as fact. Be sure that the source of the charge is specified elsewhere in the story.
Avoid, where possible, alleged victim. It is too easily construed as skepticism of a victim's account.
Avoid redundant uses of alleged. It is proper to say: The district attorney alleged that she took a bribe. Or: The district attorney accused her of taking a bribe. But not: The district attorney accused her of allegedly taking a bribe.
Do not use alleged to describe an event that is known to have occurred, when the dispute is over who participated in it. Do not say: He attended the alleged meeting when what you mean is: He allegedly attended the meeting.
Do not use alleged as a routine qualifier. Instead, use a word such as apparent, ostensible or reputed.
To allude to something is to speak of it without specifically mentioning it.
To refer is to mention it directly.
An altar is a tablelike platform used in a religious service.
To alter is to change.
Never alright. Hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier: He is an all-right guy.
The maxim that between introduces two items and among introduces more than two covers most questions about how to use these words: The choice is between fish and tofu. The funds were divided among Ford, Carter and McCarthy.
However, between is the correct word when expressing the relationships of three or more items considered one pair at a time: The games between the Yankees, Phillies and Mets have been rollicking ones.
As with all prepositions, any pronouns that follow these words must be in the objective case: among us, between him and her, between you and me.
Avoid the term "first annual."
Anticipate means to expect and prepare for something; expect does not include the notion of preparation:
They expect a record crowd. They have anticipated it by adding more seats to the auditorium.
Follow these guidelines:
POSSESSIVES: See the possessives entry in main section.
PLURAL NOUNS NOT ENDING IN S: Add 's: the alumni's contributions, women's rights.
PLURAL NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add only an apostrophe: the churches' needs, the girls' toys, the horses' food, the ships' wake, states' rights, the VIPs' entrance.
NOUNS PLURAL IN FORM, SINGULAR IN MEANING: Add only an apostrophe: mathematics' rules, measles' effects. (But see INANIMATE OBJECTS below.)
Apply the same principle when a plural word occurs in the formal name of a singular entity: General Motors' profits, the United States' wealth.
NOUNS THE SAME IN SINGULAR AND PLURAL: Treat them the same as plurals, even if the meaning is singular: one corps' location, the two deer's tracks, the lone moose's antlers.
SINGULAR NOUNS NOT ENDING IN S: Add 's: the church's needs, the girl's toys, the horse's food, the ship's route, the VIP's seat.
Some style guides say that singular nouns ending in s sounds such as ce, x, and z may take either the apostrophe alone or 's. See SPECIAL EXPRESSIONS, but otherwise, for consistency and ease in remembering a rule, always use 's if the word does not end in the letter s: Butz's policies, the fox's den, the justice's verdict, Marx's theories, the prince's life, Xerox's profits.
SINGULAR COMMON NOUNS ENDING IN S: Add 's: the hostess's invitation, the hostess's seat; the witness's answer, the witness's story. (A change from previous guidance calling for just an apostrophe if the next word begins with s.)
SINGULAR PROPER NAMES ENDING IN S: Use only an apostrophe: Achilles' heel, Agnes' book, Ceres' rites, Descartes' theories, Dickens' novels, Euripides' dramas, Hercules' labors, Jesus' life, Jules' seat, Kansas' schools, Moses' law, Socrates' life, Tennessee Williams' plays, Xerxes' armies. (An exception is St. James's Palace.)
SPECIAL EXPRESSIONS: The following exceptions to the general rule for words not ending in s apply to words that end in an s sound and are followed by a word that begins with s: for appearance' sake, for conscience' sake, for goodness' sake. Use 's otherwise: the appearance's cost, my conscience's voice.
PRONOUNS: Personal interrogative and relative pronouns have separate forms for the possessive. None involves an apostrophe: mine, ours, your, yours, his, hers, its, theirs, whose.
Caution: If you are using an apostrophe with a pronoun, always double-check to be sure that the meaning calls for a contraction: you're, it's, there's, who's.
Follow the rules listed above in forming the possessives of other pronouns: another's idea, others' plans, someone's guess.
COMPOUND WORDS: Applying the rules above, add an apostrophe or 's to the word closest to the object possessed: the major general's decision, the major generals' decisions, the attorney general's request, the attorneys general's request. See the plurals entry for guidelines on forming the plurals of these words.
Also: anyone else's attitude, John Adams Jr.'s father, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania's motion. Whenever practical, however, recast the phrase to avoid ambiguity: the motion by Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.
JOINT POSSESSION, INDIVIDUAL POSSESSION: Use a possessive form after only the last word if ownership is joint: Fred and Sylvia's apartment, Fred and Sylvia's stocks.
Use a possessive form after both words if the objects are individually owned: Fred's and Sylvia's books.
DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES: Do not add an apostrophe to a word ending in s when it is used primarily in a descriptive sense: citizens band radio, a Cincinnati Reds infielder, a teachers college, a Teamsters request, a writers guide.
Memory aid: The apostrophe usually is not used if for or by rather than of would be appropriate in the longer form: a radio band for citizens, a college for teachers, a guide for writers, a request by the Teamsters.
An 's is required, however, when a term involves a plural word that does not end in s: a children's hospital, a people's republic, the Young Men's Christian Association.
DESCRIPTIVE NAMES: Some governmental, corporate and institutional organizations with a descriptive word in their names use an apostrophe; some do not. Follow the user's practice: Actors' Equity, Diners Club, the Ladies' Home Journal, the National Governors Association.
QUASI POSSESSIVES: Follow the rules above in composing the possessive form of words that occur in such phrases as a day's pay, two weeks' vacation, three days' work, your money's worth.
Frequently, however, a hyphenated form is clearer: a two-week vacation, a three-day job.
DOUBLE POSSESSIVE: Two conditions must apply for a double possessive a phrase such as a friend of John's to occur: 1. The word after of must refer to an animate object, and 2. The word before of must involve only a portion of the animate object's possessions.
Otherwise, do not use the possessive form of the word after of: The friends of John Adams mourned his death. (All the friends were involved.) He is a friend of the college. (Not college's, because college is inanimate).
Memory aid: This construction occurs most often, and quite naturally, with the possessive forms of personal pronouns: He is a friend of mine.
INANIMATE OBJECTS: There is no blanket rule against creating a possessive form for an inanimate object, particularly if the object is treated in a personified sense. See some of the earlier examples, and note these: death's call, the wind's murmur.
In general, however, avoid excessive personalization of inanimate objects, and give preference to an of construction when it fits the makeup of the sentence. For example, the earlier references to mathematics' rules and measles' effects would better be phrased: the rules of mathematics, the effects of measles.
OMITTED LETTERS: I've, it's, don't, rock 'n' roll, 'tis the season to be jolly. He is a ne'er-do-well. See contractions in main section.
OMITTED FIGURES: The class of '62. The Spirit of '76. The '20s.
PLURALS OF A SINGLE LETTER: Mind your p's and q's. He learned the three R's and brought home a report card with four A's and two B's. The Oakland A's won the pennant.
DO NOT USE: For plurals of numerals or multiple-letter combinations. See plurals.
A decision on whether to put commas around a word, phrase or clause used in apposition depends on whether it is essential to the meaning of the sentence (no commas) or not essential (use commas).
The numerical figures 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
In general, use Arabic forms unless denoting the sequence of wars or establishing a personal sequence for people or animals.
Both terms are used in reports about labor negotiations, but they should not be interchanged.
One who arbitrates hears evidence from all people concerned, then hands down a decision.
One who mediates listens to arguments of both parties and tries by the exercise of reason or persuasion to bring them to an agreement.
Lowercase for adjective meaning frigid; capitalize for region around the North Pole. Arctic Circle, arctic fox, Arctic Ocean
Capitalize when referring to U.S. forces: the U.S. Army, the Army, Army regulations. Do not use the abbreviation USA.
Use lowercase for the forces of other nations: the French army.
This approach has been adopted for consistency, because many foreign nations do not use army as the proper name.
To avoid any suggestion that someone is being judged before a trial, do not use a phrase such as arrested for killing. Instead, use arrested on a charge of killing. If a charge hasn't been filed, arrested on suspicion of, or a similar phrase, should be used.
assassin, killer, murderer
An assassin is one who kills a politically important or prominent person.
A killer is anyone who kills with a motive of any kind.
A murderer is one who is convicted of murder in a court of law.
Preferred use: Joe Smith was convicted of second-degree murder.
The preferred form, but as though is acceptable.
Assault almost always implies physical contact and sudden, intense violence.
Legally, however, assault means simply to threaten violence, as in pointing a pistol at an individual without firing it. Assault and battery is the legal term when the victim was touched by the assaulter or something the assaulter put in motion.
In common usage the words are interchangeable.
Technically, however, an attorney is someone (usually, but not necessarily, a lawyer) empowered to act for another. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney in fact.
A lawyer is a person admitted to practice in a court system. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney at law.
Do not abbreviate. Do not capitalize unless it is an officeholder's title: defense attorney Perry Mason, attorney Perry Mason, District Attorney Hamilton Burger.
Power of attorney is a written statement legally authorizing a person to act for another.
attorney general, attorneys general
Never abbreviate. Capitalize only when used as a title before a name: Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
A noun. Do not use it as a verb.
awhile, a while
(adv.) a while He plans to stay awhile (adv.). He plans to stay for a while (n.).
Bad should not be used as an adverb. It does not lose its status as an adjective, however, in a sentence such as I feel bad. Such a statement is the idiomatic equivalent of I am in bad health. An alternative, I feel badly, could be interpreted as meaning that your sense of touch was bad.
Use because to denote a specific cause-effect relationship: He went because he was told.
Since is acceptable in a causal sense when the first event in a sequence led logically to the second but was not its direct cause: They went to the game, since they had been given the tickets.
Bail is money or property that will be forfeited to the court if an accused individual fails to appear for trial. It may be posted as follows:
-The accused may deposit with the court the full amount or its equivalent in collateral such as a deed to property.
-A friend or relative may make such a deposit with the court.
-The accused may pay a professional bail bondsman a percentage of the total figure. The bondsman, in turn, guarantees the court that it will receive from him the full amount in the event the individual fails to appear for trial.
It is correct in all cases to say that an accused posted bail or posted a bail bond (the money held by the court is a form of bond). When a distinction is desired, say that the individual posted his own bail, that bail was posted by a friend or relative, or that bail was obtained through a bondsman.
Biannual means twice a year and is a synonym for the word semiannual.
Biennial means every two years.
A bloc is a coalition of people, groups or nations with the same purpose or goal.
Block has more than a dozen definitions, but a political alliance is not one of them.
Use blond as a noun for males and as an adjective for all applications: She has blond hair.
Use blonde as a noun for females.
burglary, larceny, robbery, theft
Legal definitions of burglary vary, but in general a burglary involves entering a building (not necessarily by breaking in) and remaining unlawfully with the intention of committing a crime.
Larceny is the legal term for the wrongful taking of property. Its nonlegal equivalents are stealing or theft.
Robbery in the legal sense involves the use of violence or threat in committing larceny. In a wider sense it means to plunder or rifle, and may thus be used even if a person was not present: His house was robbed while he was away.
Theft describes a larceny that did not involve threat, violence or plundering.
USAGE NOTE: You rob a person, bank, house, etc., but you steal the money or the jewels.
In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Use a capital letter only if you can justify it by one of the principles listed here.
Many words and phrases, including special cases, are listed separately in this book. Entries that are capitalized without further comment should be capitalized in all uses.
If there is no relevant listing in this book for a particular word or phrase, consult Webster's New World College Dictionary. Use lowercase if the dictionary lists it as an acceptable form for the sense in which the word is being used.
As used in this book, capitalize means to use uppercase for the first letter of a word. If additional capital letters are needed, they are called for by an example or a phrase such as use all caps.
Some basic principles:
PROPER NOUNS: Capitalize nouns that constitute the unique identification for a specific person, place, or thing: John, Mary, America, Boston, England.
Some words, such as the examples just given, are always proper nouns. Some common nouns receive proper noun status when they are used as the name of a particular entity: General Electric, Gulf Oil.
PROPER NAMES: Capitalize common nouns such as party, river, street and west when they are an integral part of the full name for a person, place or thing: Democratic Party, Mississippi River, Fleet Street, West Virginia.
Lowercase these common nouns when they stand alone in subsequent references: the party, the river, the street.
Lowercase the common noun elements of names in plural uses: the Democratic and Republican parties, Main and State streets, lakes Erie and Ontario. Exception: plurals of formal titles with full names are capitalized: Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford.
Among entries that provide additional guidelines are:
animals holidays and holy days
brand names legislature
Congress nationalities and races
days of the week organizations and institutions
directions and regions planets
family names plants
food police department
geographic names religious references
governmental bodies seasons
heavenly bodies trademarks
historical periods and events unions
POPULAR NAMES: Some places and events lack officially designated proper names but have popular names that are the effective equivalent: the Combat Zone (a section of downtown Boston), the Main Line (a group of Philadelphia suburbs), the South Side (of Chicago), the Badlands (of South Dakota), the Street (the financial community in the Wall Street area of New York).
The principle applies also to shortened versions of the proper names of one-of-a-kind events: the Series (for the World Series), the Derby (for the Kentucky Derby). This practice should not, however, be interpreted as a license to ignore the general practice of lowercasing the common noun elements of a name when they stand alone.
DERIVATIVES: Capitalize words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning: American, Christian, Christianity, English, French, Marxism, Shakespearean.
Lowercase words that are derived from a proper noun but no longer depend on it for their meaning: french fries, herculean, malapropism, pasteurize, quixotic, venetian blind.
SENTENCES: Capitalize the first word in a statement that stands as a sentence.
In poetry, capital letters are used for the first words of some phrases that would not be capitalized in prose.
COMPOSITIONS: Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc.
TITLES: Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name. Lowercase formal titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas.
Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.
ABBREVIATIONS: Capital letters apply in some cases.
Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington: The meeting was held on Capitol Hill in the west wing of the Capitol.
Follow the same practice when referring to state capitols: The Virginia Capitol is in Richmond. Thomas Jefferson designed the Capitol of Virginia.
Use capital for a city or town that is the seat of government.
Capitalize as a formal title before a name: company Chairman Henry Ford, committee Chairwoman Margaret Chase Smith.
Do not capitalize as a casual, temporary position: meeting chairman Robert Jones.
Use chairperson, chair or co-chair if preferred by an organization.
Chair is acceptable as a verb: She chaired the meeting; he chairs the committee.
Capitalize only as a formal title before a name: Chief Justice John Roberts. The officeholder is the chief justice of the United States, not of the Supreme Court.
A variety of systems are used for spelling Chinese names. For personal and place names from China, use the official Chinese spelling system known as Pinyin: Senior leader Deng Xiaoping, Beijing, or Zhejiang province.
In personal names, Chinese generally place surnames first and then given names, Deng Xiaoping. Second reference should be the family name, Deng in this case.
Some Chinese have Westernized their names, putting their given names or the initials for them first or sometimes using both an English name and a Chinese name: P.Y. Chen, Jack Wang, Frank Hsieh Chang-ting. In general, follow an individual's preferred spelling.
Normally Chinese women do not take their husbands' surnames.
The Pinyin spelling system eliminates the hyphen or apostrophe previously used in many given names. Use the new spelling for Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, but keep the traditional American spelling for such historical figures as Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek.
If the new Pinyin spelling of a proper noun is so radically different from the traditional American spelling that a reader might be confused, provide the Pinyin spelling followed by the traditional spelling in parentheses. For example, the city of Fuzhou (Foochow). Or use a descriptive sentence: Fuzhou, long known in the West as Foochow, is the capital of Fujian province, on China's eastern coast.
Use the traditional American spellings for these place names: China, Inner Mongolia, Shanghai, Tibet.
Follow local spellings in stories dealing with Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Capitalize the animal names for years in the Chinese lunar calendar: Year of the Sheep, Year of the Dog.
Nouns that denote a unit take singular verbs and pronouns: class, committee, crowd, family, group, herd, jury, orchestra, team.
Some usage examples: The committee is meeting to set its agenda. The jury reached its verdict. A herd of cattle was sold.
Team names and musical group names that are plural take plural verbs. The Yankees are in first place. The Jonas Brothers are popular.
Team or group names with no plural forms also take plural verbs: The Miami Heat are battling for third place. Other examples: Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Alabama Crimson Tide.
Most singular names take singular verbs, including places and university names in sports: Coldplay is on tour. Boston is favored in the playoffs. Stanford is in the NCAA Tournament.
Some proper names that are plural in form take a singular verb: Brooks Brothers is holding a sale.
PLURAL IN FORM: Some words that are plural in form become collective nouns and take singular verbs when the group or quantity is regarded as a unit.
Right: A thousand bushels is a good yield. (A unit.)
Right: A thousand bushels were created. (Individual items.)
Right: The data is sound. (A unit.)
Right: The data have been carefully collected. (Individual items.)
Two objects must be in motion before they can collide. A moving train cannot collide with a stopped train.
Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence: He promised this: The company will make good all the losses. But: There were three considerations: expense, time and feasibility.
EMPHASIS: The colon often can be effective in giving emphasis: He had only one hobby: eating.
LISTS: A frequent use of a colon is at the end of a sentence or phrase to introduce lists, tabulations, texts, etc. See lists, bulleted lists.
LISTINGS: Use the colon in such listings as time elapsed (1:31:07.2), time of day (8:31 p.m.), biblical and legal citations (2 Kings 2:14; Missouri Code 3:245-260).
DIALOGUE: Use a colon for dialogue. In coverage of a trial, for example:
Bailey: What were you doing the night of the 19th?
Mason: I refuse to answer that.
Q AND A: The colon is used for question-and-answer interviews:
Q: Did you strike him?
A: Indeed I did.
INTRODUCING QUOTATIONS: Use a comma to introduce a direct quotation of one sentence that remains within a paragraph. Use a colon to introduce long quotations within a paragraph and to end all paragraphs that introduce a paragraph of quoted material.
PLACEMENT WITH QUOTATION MARKS: Colons go outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quotation itself.
MISCELLANEOUS: Do not combine a dash and a colon.
The following guidelines treat some of the most frequent questions about the use of commas. Additional guidelines on specialized uses are provided in separate entries such as dates and scores.
As with all punctuation, clarity is the biggest rule. If a comma does not help make clear what is being said, it should not be there. If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma.
For detailed guidance, consult the punctuation section in the back of Webster's New World College Dictionary.
IN A SERIES: Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in most simple series: The flag is red, white and blue. He would nominate Tom, Dick, Harry or Jeannette.
Include a final comma in a simple series if omitting it could make the meaning unclear. The governor convened his most trusted advisers, economist Olivia Schneider and polling expert Carlton Torres. (If Schneider and Torres are his most trusted advisers, don't use the final comma.) The governor convened his most trusted advisers, economist Olivia Schneider, and polling expert Carlton Torres. (If the governor is convening unidentified advisers plus Schneider and Torres, the final comma is needed.)
Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
Use a comma also before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.
See dash and semicolon for cases when elements of a series contain internal commas.
WITH EQUAL ADJECTIVES: Use commas to separate a series of adjectives equal in rank. If the commas could be replaced by the word and without changing the sense, the adjectives are equal: a thoughtful, precise manner; a dark, dangerous street.
Use no comma when the last adjective before a noun outranks its predecessors because it is an integral element of a noun phrase, which is the equivalent of a single noun: a cheap fur coat (the noun phrase is fur coat); the old oaken bucket; a new, blue spring bonnet.
WITH NONESSENTIAL CLAUSES: A nonessential clause must be set off by commas. An essential clause must not be set off from the rest of a sentence by commas.
See essential clauses, nonessential clauses in the main section.
WITH NONESSENTIAL PHRASES: A nonessential phrase must be set off by commas. An essential phrase must not be set off from the rest of a sentence by commas.
See essential phrases, nonessential phrases in the main section.
WITH INTRODUCTORY CLAUSES AND PHRASES: A comma is used to separate an introductory clause or phrase from the main clause: When he had tired of the mad pace of New York, he moved to Dubuque.
The comma may be omitted after short introductory phrases if no ambiguity would result: During the night he heard many noises.
But use the comma if its omission would slow comprehension: On the street below, the curious gathered.
WITH CONJUNCTIONS: When a conjunction such as and, but or for links two clauses that could stand alone as separate sentences, use a comma before the conjunction in most cases: She was glad she had looked, for a man was approaching the house.
As a rule of thumb, use a comma if the subject of each clause is expressly stated: We are visiting Washington, and we also plan a side trip to Williamsburg. We visited Washington, and our senator greeted us personally. But no comma when the subject of the two clauses is the same and is not repeated in the second: We are visiting Washington and plan to see the White House.
The comma may be dropped if two clauses with expressly stated subjects are short. In general, however, favor use of a comma unless a particular literary effect is desired or if it would distort the sense of a sentence.
INTRODUCING DIRECT QUOTES: Use a comma to introduce a complete one-sentence quotation within a paragraph: Wallace said, "She spent six months in Argentina and came back speaking English with a Spanish accent." But use a colon to introduce quotations of more than one sentence. See colon.
Do not use a comma at the start of an indirect or partial quotation: He said the victory put him "firmly on the road to a first-ballot nomination."
BEFORE ATTRIBUTION: Use a comma instead of a period at the end of a quote that is followed by attribution: "Write clearly and concisely," she said.
Do not use a comma, however, if the quoted statement ends with a question mark or exclamation point: "Why should I?" he asked.
WITH HOMETOWNS AND AGES: Use a comma to set off an individual's hometown when it is placed in apposition to a name (whether of is used or not): Mary Richards, Minneapolis, and Maude Findlay, Tuckahoe, New York, were there.
If an individual's age is used, set it off by commas: Maude Findlay, 48, Tuckahoe, New York, was present.
WITH PARTY AFFILIATION, ACADEMIC DEGREES, RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS: See separate entries under each of these terms.
NAMES OF STATES AND NATIONS USED WITH CITY NAMES: His journey will take him from Dublin, Ireland, to Fargo, North Dakota, and back. The Selma, Alabama, group saw the governor.
Use parentheses, however, if a state name is inserted within a proper name: The Huntsville (Alabama) Times.
WITH YES AND NO: Yes, I will be there.
IN DIRECT ADDRESS: Mother, I will be home late. No, sir, I did not take it.
SEPARATING SIMILAR WORDS: Use a comma to separate duplicated words that otherwise would be confusing: What the problem is, is not clear.
IN LARGE FIGURES: Use a comma for most figures greater than 999. The major exceptions are street addresses (1234 Main St.), broadcast frequencies (1460 kilohertz), room numbers, serial numbers, telephone numbers, and years (1876). See separate entries under these headings.
PLACEMENT WITH QUOTES: Commas always go inside quotation marks.
WITH FULL DATES: When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with a comma: Feb. 14, 2020, is the target date.
Complement is a noun and a verb denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something: The ship has a complement of 200 sailors and 20 officers. The tie complements his suit.
Compliment is a noun or a verb that denotes praise or the expression of courtesy: The captain complimented the sailors. She was flattered by the compliments on her project.
Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, computer and video game titles, movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, album and song titles, radio and television program titles, and the titles of lectures, speeches and works of art.
The guidelines, followed by a block of examples:
—Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
—Capitalize an article — the, a, an — or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.
—Put quotation marks around the names of all such works except the Bible, the Quran and other holy books, and books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks and similar publications. Do not use quotation marks around such software titles as WordPerfect or Windows.
—Translate a foreign title into English unless a work is generally known by its foreign name. An exception to this is reviews of musical performances. In those instances, generally refer to the work in the language it was sung in, so as to differentiate for the reader. However, musical compositions in Slavic languages are always referred to in their English translations.
compared to, compared with
Use compared to when the intent is to assert, without the need for elaboration, that two or more items are similar: She compared her work for women's rights to Susan B. Anthony's campaign for women's suffrage.
Use compared with when juxtaposing two or more items to illustrate similarities and/or differences: His time was 2:11:10, compared with 2:14 for his closest competitor.
compose, comprise, constitute
Compose means to create or put together. It commonly is used in both the active and passive voices: She composed a song. The United States is composed of 50 states. The zoo is composed of many animals.
Comprise means to contain, to include all or embrace. It is best used only in the active voice, followed by a direct object: The United States comprises 50 states. The jury comprises five men and seven women. The zoo comprises many animals.
Constitute, in the sense of form or make up, may be the best word if neither compose nor comprise seems to fit: Fifty states constitute the United States. Five men and seven women constitute the jury. A collection of animals can constitute a zoo.
Use include when what follows is only part of the total: The price includes breakfast. The zoo includes lions and tigers.
Continual means a steady repetition, over and over again: The merger has been the source of continual litigation.
Continuous means uninterrupted, steady, unbroken: All she saw ahead of her was a continuous stretch of desert.
couple, couple of
When used in the sense of two people, the word takes plural verbs and pronouns: The couple were married Saturday and left Sunday on their honeymoon. They will return in two weeks.
In the sense of a single unit, use a singular verb: Each couple was asked to give $10.
The of is necessary. Never use a couple tomatoes or a similar phrase.
The phrase takes a plural verb in constructions such as: A couple of tomatoes were stolen.
In general, do not use courtesy titles except in direct quotations. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name.
court-martial, court-martialed, courts-martial
Avoid modifiers that do not refer clearly and logically to some word in the sentence.
Dangling: Taking our seats, the game started. (Taking does not refer to the subject, game, nor to any other word in the sentence.)
Correct: Taking our seats, we watched the opening of the game. (Taking refers to we, the subject of the sentence.)
Follow these guidelines:
ABRUPT CHANGE: Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause: Through her long reign, the queen and her family have adapted — usually skillfully — to the changing taste of the time. But avoid overuse of dashes to set off phrases when commas would suffice.
SERIES WITHIN A PHRASE: When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase: He listed the qualities — intelligence, humor, conservatism, independence — that he liked in an executive.
ATTRIBUTION: Use a dash before an author's or composer's name at the end of a quotation: "Who steals my purse steals trash." — Shakespeare.
NEW YORK (AP) — The city is broke.
IN LISTS: See lists, bulleted lists.
WITH SPACES: Put a space on both sides of a dash in all uses except sports agate summaries.
Datelines on stories should contain a city name, entirely in capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, country or territory where the city is located.
DOMESTIC DATELINES: A list of domestic cities that stand alone in datelines:
BOSTON NEW ORLEANS
CHICAGO NEW YORK
CINCINNATI OKLAHOMA CITY
DETROIT ST. LOUIS
HONOLULU SALT LAKE CITY
HOUSTON SAN ANTONIO
INDIANAPOLIS SAN DIEGO
LAS VEGAS SAN FRANCISCO
LOS ANGELES SEATTLE
Stories from all other U.S. cities should have both the city and state name in the dateline, including KANSAS CITY, Mo., and KANSAS CITY, Kan.
Spell out Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Abbreviate others as listed in this book under the full name of each state.
Use Hawaii on all cities outside Honolulu. Specify the island in the text if needed.
Follow the same practice for communities on islands within the boundaries of other states: EDGARTOWN, Mass., for example, not EDGARTOWN, Martha's Vineyard.
Use BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. It's an incorporated city and the dateline for the Golden Globes movie awards, sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
STATE SERVICES: Additional cities in a state or region may stand alone.
U.S. POSSESSIONS: Apply the guidelines listed below in the ISLAND NATIONS AND TERRITORIES section and the OVERSEAS TERRITORIES section.
INTERNATIONAL DATELINES: These international locations stand alone in datelines:
AMSTERDAM MEXICO CITY
BRUSSELS NEW DELHI
CAIRO PANAMA CITY
GENEVA QUEBEC CITY
GIBRALTAR RIO DE JANEIRO
GUATEMALA CITY ROME
HAVANA SAN MARINO
HELSINKI SAO PAULO
HONG KONG SHANGHAI
KUWAIT CITY TORONTO
LONDON VATICAN CITY
In addition, use UNITED NATIONS alone, without a N.Y. designation, in stories from U.N. headquarters.
BALKANS: With the independence of Montenegro from Serbia-Montenegro formalized in 2006, use a Montenegro-only dateline, such as PODGORICA, Montenegro. Stories originating in Serbia carry a Serbia-only dateline: BELGRADE, Serbia. With the independence of Kosovo in 2008, use Kosovo in the dateline, such as PRISTINA, Kosovo.
CANADIAN DATELINES: Datelines on stories from Canadian cities other than Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto should contain the name of the city in capital letters followed by the name of the province. Do not abbreviate any province or territory name.
COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES: For cities in the former Soviet Union, datelines include city and republic name: ALMATY, Kazakhstan.
OTHER NATIONS: Stories from other international cities that do not stand alone in datelines should contain the name of the country or territory (see the next section) spelled out.
SPELLING AND CHOICE OF NAMES: In most cases, the name of the nation in a dateline is the conventionally accepted short form of its official name: Argentina, for example, rather than Republic of Argentina. (If in doubt, look for an entry in this book. If none is found, follow Webster's New World College Dictionary.)
Note these special cases:
Instead of United Kingdom, use England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
For divided nations, use the commonly accepted names based on geographic distinctions: North Korea, South Korea.
Use an article only with El Salvador. For all others, use just a country name Gambia, Netherlands, Philippines, etc.
See geographic names for guidelines on spelling the names of international cities and nations not listed here or in separate entries.
ISLAND NATIONS AND TERRITORIES: When reporting from nations and territories that are made up primarily of islands but commonly are linked under one name, use the city name and the general name in the dateline. Identify an individual island, if needed, in the text:
British Virgin Islands Netherlands Antilles
OVERSEAS TERRITORIES: Some overseas territories, colonies and other areas that are not independent nations commonly have accepted separate identities based on their geographic character or special status under treaties. In these cases, use the commonly accepted territory name after a city name in a dateline.
Corsica Puerto Rico
Faeroe Islands Sicily
WITHIN STORIES: In citing other cities within the body of a story:
No further information is necessary if a city is in the same state as the datelined city. Make an exception only if confusion would result.
Follow the city name with further identification in most cases where it is not in the same state or nation as the dateline city. The additional identification may be omitted, however, if no confusion would result. For example, Boston stands alone without Massachusetts in a story datelined NEW YORK.
Provide a state or nation identification for the city if the story has no dateline. However, cities that stand alone in datelines may be used alone in those stories if no confusion would result.
Both mean to do away with something completely. Something cannot be partially demolished or destroyed. It is redundant to say totally demolished or totally destroyed.
It means more than a problem. It implies a choice between two unattractive alternatives.
Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc., to indicate depth, height, length and width. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns.
EXAMPLES: He is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, the 5-foot-6-inch man, the 5-foot man, the basketball team signed a 7-footer.
The car is 17 feet long, 6 feet wide and 5 feet high. The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet, the 9-by-12 rug.
The storm left 5 inches of snow.
The building has 6,000 square feet of floor space.
Use an apostrophe to indicate feet and quote marks to indicate inches (5'6") only in very technical contexts.
directions and regions
In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., when they indicate compass direction; capitalize these words when they designate regions.
COMPASS DIRECTIONS: He drove west. The cold front is moving east.
REGIONS: A storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward. It will bring showers to the East Coast by morning and to the entire Northeast by late in the day. Showers and thunderstorms were forecast in the Texas Panhandle. High temperatures will prevail throughout the Western states.
The North was victorious. The South will rise again. Settlers from the East went to the West in search of new lives. The customs of the East are different from those of the West. The Northeast depends on the Midwest for its food supply.
She has a Southern accent. He is a Northerner. Asian nations are opening doors to Western businessmen. The candidate developed a Southern strategy.
The storm developed in the South Pacific. European leaders met to talk about supplies of oil from Southeast Asia.
WITH NAMES OF NATIONS: Lowercase unless they are part of a proper name or are used to designate a politically divided nation: northern France, eastern Canada, the western United States.
But: Northern Ireland, South Korea.
WITH STATES AND CITIES: The preferred form is to lowercase directional or area descriptions when referring to a section of a state or city: western Montana, southern Atlanta.
But capitalize compass points:
— When part of a proper name: North Dakota, West Virginia.
— When used in denoting widely known sections: Southern California, West Texas, the South Side of Chicago, the Lower East Side of New York. If in doubt, use lowercase.
IN FORMING PROPER NAMES: When combining with another common noun to form the name for a region or location: the North Woods, the South Pole, the Far East, the Middle East, the West Coast (the entire region, not the coastline itself see coast), the Eastern Shore (see separate entry), the Western Hemisphere.
Discreet means prudent, circumspect: "I'm afraid I was not very discreet," she wrote.
Discrete means detached, separate: There are four discrete sounds from a quadraphonic system.
Do not capitalize arthritis, emphysema, leukemia, pneumonia, etc.
When a disease is known by the name of a person or geographical area identified with it, capitalize only the proper noun element: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Ebola virus, etc.
Avoid such expressions as: He is battling cancer. She is a stroke victim. Use neutral, precise descriptions: He has stomach cancer. She is a stroke patient.
Disinterested means impartial, which is usually the better word to convey the thought.
Uninterested means that someone lacks interest.
A contest between two people. Three people cannot duel.
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