a, an Use the article a before consonant sounds: a historic event, a one-year term (sounds as if it begins with a w), a united stand (sounds like you).

Use the article an before vowel sounds: an energy crisis, an honorable man (the h is silent), an NBA record (sounds like it begins with the letter e), an 1890s celebration.

a- The rules of prefixes apply, but in general no hyphen. Some examples:

achromatic atonal

A&P Acceptable in all references for Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc. Headquarters is in Montvale, N.J.

abbreviations and acronyms The notation abbrev. is used in this book to identify the abbreviated form that may be used for a word in some contexts.

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 which the reader would not quickly recognize.

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.

Some general principles:

BEFORE A NAME: Abbreviate the following titles when used before a full name outside direct quotations: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., the Rev., Sen. and certain military designations listed in the military titles entry. Spell out all except Dr., Mr., Mrs. and Ms. when they are used before a name in direct quotations.

For guidelines on how to use titles, see courtesy titles; legislative titles; military titles; religious titles; and the entries for the most commonly used titles.

AFTER A NAME: Abbreviate junior or senior after an individual’s name. Abbreviate company, corporation, incorporated and limited when used after the name of a corporate entity. See entries under these words and company names.

In some cases, an academic degree may be abbreviated after an individual’s name. See academic degrees.

WITH DATES OR NUMERALS: Use the abbreviations A.D., B.C., a.m., p.m., No., and abbreviate certain months when used with the day of the month.

Right: In 450 B.C.; at 9:30 a.m.; in room No. 6; on Sept. 16.

Wrong: Early this a.m. he asked for the No. of your room. The abbreviations are correct only with figures.

Right: Early this morning he asked for the number of your room.

See months and individual entries for these other terms.

IN NUMBERED ADDRESSES: Abbreviate avenue, boulevard and street in numbered addresses: He lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. He lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

See addresses.

STATES: The names of certain states and the United States are abbreviated with periods in some circumstances.

See state names; datelines; and individual entries.

ACCEPTABLE BUT NOT REQUIRED: Some organizations and government agencies are widely recognized by their initials: CIA, FBI, GOP.

If the entry for such an organization notes that an abbreviation is acceptable in all references or on second reference, that does not mean that its use should be automatic. Let the context determine, for example, whether to use Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI.

See second reference.

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.

SPECIAL CASES: Many abbreviations are desirable in tabulations and certain types of technical writing. See individual entries.

CAPS, PERIODS: Use capital letters and periods according to the listings in this book. For words not in this book, use the first-listed abbreviation in Webster’s New World Dictionary. If an abbreviation not listed in this book or in the dictionary achieves widespread acceptance, use capital letters. Omit periods unless the result would spell an unrelated word.

ABC Acceptable in all references for American Broadcasting Cos. (the plural is part of the corporate name).

Divisions are ABC News, ABC Radio and ABC-TV.



ABM, ABMs Acceptable in all references for anti-ballistic missile(s), but the term should be defined in the story.

Avoid the redundant phrase ABM missiles.

A-bomb Use atomic bomb unless a direct quotation is involved.

See Hiroshima.



absent without leave AWOL is acceptable on second reference.

academic degrees 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.

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: Daniel Moynihan, 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:

Wrong: Dr. Pam Jones, Ph.D.

Right: Dr. Pam Jones, a chemist.

When in doubt about the proper abbreviation for a degree, follow the first listing in Webster’s New World Dictionary.

See doctor.

academic departments Use lower- case except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department.

academic titles Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as chancel-lor, chairman, etc., when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere.

Lowercase modifiers such as department in department Chairman Jerome Wiesner.

See doctor and titles.

academy See military academies.

Academy Awards Presented annu- ally by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Also known as the Oscars.

Lowercase the academy and the awards whenever they stand alone.

accept, except Accept means to receive.

Except means to exclude.


accused 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.

For guidelines on related words, see allege; arrest; and indict.

Ace A trademark for a brand of elastic bandage.


acre Equal to 43,560 square feet or 4,840 square yards. The metric equivalent is .4 (two-fifths) of a hectare or 4,047 square meters.

One square mile is 640 acres.

To convert to hectares, multiply by .4 (5 acres x .4 equals 2 hectares).

See hectare.

acronyms See the abbreviations and acronyms entry.

act Capitalize when part of the name for pending or implemented legislation: the Taft-Hartley Act.

acting Always lowercase, but capitalize any formal title that may follow before a name: acting Mayor Peter Barry.

See titles.

act numbers Use Arabic figures and capitalize act: Act 1; Act 2, Scene 2. But: the first act, the second act.

actor (man) actress (woman)

Actors’ Equity Association Headquarters is in New York.

A.D. 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.

See B.C.

-added Follow this form in sports stories: The $50,000-added sweepstakes.

addresses 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 with two letters 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. N.W. Do not abbreviate if the number is omitted: East 42nd Street, West 43rd Street, K Street Northwest.

See highway designations.

adjectives The abbreviation adj. is used in this book to identify the spelling of the adjectival forms of words that frequently are misspelled.

The comma entry provides guidance on punctuating a series of adjectives.

The hyphen entry provides guidance on handling compound modifiers used before a noun.

ad-lib (n., v., adj.)

administration Lowercase: the administration, the president’s admin-istration, the governor’s administration, the Reagan administration.

See the government, junta, regime entry for distinctions that apply in using these terms and administration.

administrative law judge This is the federal title for the position formerly known as hearing examiner. Capitalize it when used as a formal title before a name.

To avoid the long title, seek a construction that sets the title off by commas: The administrative law judge, John Williams, disagreed.

administrator Never abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

admiral See military titles.


admit, admitted These words may in some contexts give the erroneous connotation of wrongdoing.

A person who announces that he is a homosexual, for example, may be acknowledging it to the world, not admitting it. Said is usually sufficient.

ad nauseam

adopt, approve, enact, pass Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved.

Bills are passed.

Laws are enacted.

Adrenalin A trademark for the synthetic or chemically extracted forms of epinephrine, a substance produced by the adrenal glands.

The non-proprietary terms are epinephrine hydrochloride or adrenalin.

Adventist See Seventh-day Adventist Church.

adverbs The abbreviation adv. is used in this book to identify the spelling of adverbial forms of words frequently misspelled.

See the hyphen entry for guidelines on when an adverb should be followed by a hyphen in constructing a compound modifier.

adverse, averse Adverse means unfavorable: He predicted adverse weather.

Averse means reluctant, opposed: She is averse to change.

adviser Not advisor.


Aer Lingus The headquarters of this airline is in Dublin, Ireland.

Aeroflot The headquarters of this airline is in Moscow.

Aeromexico This airline formerly was known as Aeronaves de Mexico.

Headquarters is in Mexico City.


affect, effect 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.

Afghan (adj.) Afghani is the Afghan unit of currency.

AFL-CIO Acceptable in all references for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organi- zations.


African Of or pertaining to Africa, or any of its peoples or languages. Do not use the word as a synonym for black or Negro.

In some countries of Africa, colored is used to describe those of mixed white and black ancestry. In other societies colored is considered a derogatory word.

Because of the ambiguity, avoid the term in favor of a phrase such as mixed racial ancestry. If the word cannot be avoided, place it in quotation marks and provide its meaning.

See colored.

after- No hyphen after this prefix when it is used to form a noun:

aftereffect afterthought

Follow after with a hyphen when it is used to form compound modifiers:

after-dinner drink after-theater snack

afterward Not afterwards.

Agency for International Development AID is acceptable on second reference.

agenda A list. It takes singular verbs and pronouns: The agenda has run its course.

The plural is agendas.

agent Lowercase unless it is a formal title used before a name.

In the FBI, the formal title is special agent. Use Special Agent William Smith if appropriate in special context. Otherwise, make it agent William Smith or FBI agent William Smith.

See titles.

ages Always use figures. When the context does not require years or years old, the figure is presumed to be years.

Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens.

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 law is 8 years old. The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe).

See also boy; girl; infant; and youth.

See comma in punctuation guidelines.

ages of history See the historical periods and events entry.

agnostic, atheist An agnostic is a person who believes it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

An atheist is a person who believes there is no God.

aid, aide Aid is assistance.

An aide is a person who serves as an assistant.

aide-de-camp, aides-de-camp A military officer who serves as assistant and confidential secretary to a superior.

AIDS Acceptable in all references for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sometimes written as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

AIDS is an affliction in which a virus has weakened the body’s immune system and cancer or serious infections have occurred. AIDS is spread most often through sexual contact; contaminated needles or syringes shared by drug abusers; infected blood or blood products; and from pregnant women to their offspring.

The scientific name for the virus is human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. The most common type of the virus is often designated HIV-1 to distinguish it from another type called HIV-2.

National AIDS statistics, which are updated monthly, are available from the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

A note about AIDS tests: Routine AIDS tests look for the presence of antibodies the body has made to defend against the AIDS virus. A positive antibody test is evidence of an infection with the AIDS virus. People who test positive are often described as being HIV-positive.

A positive result does not mean the person tested has AIDS. People infected with the virus do not have AIDS until they develop serious symptoms. Many remain infected but apparently healthy for years.

AIDS antibody tests should be distinguished from tests for the AIDS virus itself. The presence of the AIDS virus can be confirmed by laboratory cultures or by the much more sensitive polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test.

ain’t A dialectical or substandard contraction. Use it only in quoted matter or special contexts.

air base Two words. Follow the practice of the U.S. Air Force, which uses air force base as part of the proper name for its bases in the United States and air base for its installations abroad.

On second reference: the Air Force base, the air base, or the base.

Do not abbreviate, even in datelines:


Air Canada Headquarters is in Montreal.

air-condition, air-conditioned (v. and adj.) The nouns are: air conditioner, air conditioning.

aircraft names Use a hyphen when changing from letters to figures; no hyphen when adding a letter after figures.

Some examples for aircraft often in the news: B-1, BAC-111, C-5A, DC-10, FH-227, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon, L-1011, MiG-21, Tu-144, 727-100C, 747, 747B, VC-10. Airbus A300 or A300 (no hyphen) is an exception.

This hyphenation principle is the one used most frequently by manufacturers and users. Apply it in all cases for consistency. For other elements of a name, use the form adopted by the manufacturer or user. If in doubt, consult Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft.

NO QUOTES: Do not use quotation marks for aircraft with names: Air Force One, the Spirit of St. Louis, Concorde.

PLURALS: DC-10s, 747s. But: 747B’s. (As noted in plurals, the apostrophe is used in forming the plural of a single letter.)

SEQUENCE: Use Arabic figures to establish the sequence of aircraft, spacecraft and missiles: Apollo 10. Do not use hyphens.

aircraft terms Use engine, not motor, for the units that propel aircraft: a twin-engine plane (not twin engined).

Use jet plane or jetliner to describe only those aircraft driven solely by jet engines. Use turboprop to describe an aircraft on which the jet engine is geared to a propeller. Turboprops sometimes are called propjets.

Jet planes in commercial use include the BAC-111; Boeing 707, 727, 737, 747; the Convair 880; the DC-8, DC-9, and DC-10; the L-1011; and the VC-10.

See the engine, motor entry.

air force Capitalize when referring to U.S. forces: the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force, Air Force regulations. Do not use the abbreviation USAF.

Congress established the Army Air Forces (note the s) in 1941. Prior to that, the air arm was known as the U.S. Army Air Corps. The U.S. Air Force (no s) was created as a separate service in 1947.

Use lowercase for the forces of other nations: the Israeli air force.

This approach has been adopted for consistency, because many foreign nations do not use air force as the proper name.

See the military academies and military titles entries.

air force base See air base.

Air Force One The Air Force applies this name to any aircraft the president of the United States may be using.

In ordinary usage, however, Air Force One is the name of the airplane normally reserved for the president’s use.

Air France Headquarters is in Paris.

Air-India The hyphen is part of the formal name.

Headquarters is in Bombay, India.

Air Jamaica Headquarters is in Kingston, Jamaica.

airline, airlines Capitalize airlines, air lines and airways when used as part of a proper airline name.

Major airlines are listed in this book separately by name.

Companies that use airlines include Alitalia, American, Continental, Hawaiian, Northwest, Trans World, United and Western.

Companies that use air lines include Delta, Japan, and Ozark.

Companies that use airways include Braniff, British, and Qantas.

Companies that use none of these include Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Air-India, Air Jamaica, Hughes Airwest, Iberia, KLM and Western Alaska.

On second reference, use just the proper name (Delta), an abbreviation if applicable (TWA), or the airline. Use airlines when referring to more than one line.

Do not use air line, air lines or airways in generic references to an airline.


airman See military titles.

Air National Guard

airport Capitalize as part of a proper name: La Guardia Airport, Newark International Airport.

The first name of an individual and the word international may be deleted from a formal airport name while the remainder is capitalized: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Kennedy International Airport, or Kennedy Airport. Use whichever is appropriate in the context.

Do not make up names, however. There is no Boston Airport, for example. The Boston airport (lowercase airport) would be acceptable if for some reason the proper name, Logan International Airport, were not used.


air traffic controller (no hyphen.)

airways The system of routes that the federal government has established for airplane traffic.

See the airline, airlines entry for its use in carriers’ names.

Alabama Abbrev.: Ala. See state names.

a la carte

a la king, a la mode

Alaska Do not abbreviate. Largest land area of the 50 states.

See state names.

Alaska Standard Time The time zone used in all of Alaska, except the western Aleutian Islands and St. Lawrence Island, which are on Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time.

There is also an Alaska Daylight Time.

See time zones.

Alberta A province of western Canada. Do not abbreviate.

See datelines.

albino, albinos

Alcoa Alcoa is acceptable on second reference for Aluminum Company of America. The company has dropped the all-capitalized acronym ALCOA and made Alcoa the acceptable acronym for the company name.

Alcoa also is a city in Tennessee.

alcoholic Use recovering, not reformed, in referring to those afflicted with the disease of alcoholism.

alderman Do not abbreviate. See legislative titles.

alert See weather terms.

Al Fatah A Palestinian guerrilla organization. Drop the article Al if preceded by an English article: the Fatah statement, a Fatah leader.


Alitalia Airlines Headquarters is in Rome.

all- Use a hyphen:

all-around (not all-round) all-out

all-clear all-star

See all right and the all time, all-time entries.

allege The word must be used with great care.

Some guidelines:

—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 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.

For guidelines on related words, see accuse; arrest; and indict.

Allegheny Airlines See US Airways.

Allegheny Mountains Or simply: the Alleghenies.

alley Do not abbreviate. See addresses.

allies, allied Capitalize allies or allied only when referring to the combination of the United States and its Allies during World War I or World War II: The Allies defeated Germany. He was in the Allied invasion of France.

allot, allotted, allotting

all right (adv.) Never alright. Hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier: He is an all-right guy.

all time, all-time An all-time high, but the greatest runner of all time.

Avoid the redundant phrase all-time record.

allude, refer To allude to something is to speak of it without specifically mentioning it.

To refer is to mention it directly.

allusion, illusion Allusion means an indirect reference: The allusion was to his opponent’s war record.

Illusion means an unreal or false impression: The scenic director created the illusion of choppy seas.

alma mater

almost never Do not use the phrase. Instead use seldom or hardly ever.

also-ran (n.)

altar, alter An altar is a tablelike platform used in a church service.

To alter is to change.

Aluminum Company of America Alcoa is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Pittsburgh.

alumnus, alumni, alumna, alumnae Use alumnus (alumni in the plural) when referring to a man who has attended a school.

Use alumna (alumnae in the plural) for similar references to a woman.

Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women.

Alzheimer’s disease This is a progressive, irreversible neurological disorder. Most victims are older than 65, but Alzheimer’s can strike in the 40s or 50s.

Symptoms include gradual memory loss, impairment of judgment, disorienta- tion, personality change, difficulty in learning and loss of language skills.

No cause or cure is known.

AM Acceptable in all references to the amplitude modulation system of radio transmission.

a.m., p.m. Lowercase, with periods. Avoid the redundant 10 a.m. this morning.

Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers The shortened forms Amalgamated Clothing Workers and Clothing Workers union are acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in New York.

Amalgamated Transit Union Use this full name on first reference.

Headquarters is in Washington.

ambassador Use for both men and women. Capitalize as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

amendments to the Constitution Use First Amendment, 10th Amend-ment, etc.

Colloquial references to the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self- incrimination are best avoided, but where appropriate: He took the Fifth seven times.

American An acceptable description for a resident of the United States. It also may be applied to any resident or citizen of nations in North or South America.

American Airlines Headquarters is in Fort Worth, Texas.

American Automobile Association AAA is acceptable on second reference. Also: the automobile association, the association.

Headquarters is in Heathrow, Fla.

American Baptist Association See Baptist churches.

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. See Baptist churches.

American Bar Association ABA is acceptable on second reference. Also: the bar association, the association.

Headquarters is in Chicago.

American Broadcasting Cos. See ABC.

American Civil Liberties Union ACLU is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in New York.

American Federation of Government Employees Use this full name on first reference to prevent confusion with other unions that represent government workers.

Headquarters is in Washington.

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations AFL-CIO is acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in Washington.

American Federation of Musicians Use this full name on first reference.

The shortened form Musicians’ union is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in New York.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Use this full name on first reference to prevent confusion with other unions that represent government workers.

Headquarters is in Washington.

American Federation of Teachers Use this full name on first reference to prevent confusion with other unions that represent teachers.

Headquarters is in Washington.

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists AFTRA is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in New York.

American Hospital Association AHA is acceptable on second reference. Also: the hospital association, the association.

Headquarters is in Chicago.

Americanisms Words and phrases that have become part of the English language as spoken in the United States are listed with a star in Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Most Americanisms are acceptable in news stories, but let the context be the guide.

See word selection.

American Legion Capitalize also the Legion in second reference. Members are Legionnaires, just as members of the Lions Club are Lions.

Legion and Legionnaires are capitalized because they are not being used in their common noun sense. A legion (lowercase) is a large group of soldiers or, by derivation, a large number of items: His friends are legion. A legionnaire (lowercase) is a member of such a legion.

See the fraternal organizations and service clubs entry.

American Medical Association AMA is acceptable on second reference. Also: the medical association, the association.

Headquarters is in Chicago.

American Newspaper Publishers Association See Newspaper Association of America.

American Petroleum Institute API is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Washington.

American Postal Workers Union This union represents clerks and similar employees who work inside post offices.

Use the full name on first reference to prevent confusion with the National Association of Letter Carriers. The shortened form Postal Workers union is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Washington.

American Press Institute API is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Reston, Va.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals This organization is limited to the five boroughs of New York City. ASPCA is accept- able on second reference.

See Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ASCAP is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in New York.

American Stock Exchange In second reference: the American Exchange, the Amex, or the exchange.

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. See AT&T Corp.

American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam AMVETS is acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in Washington.

Amex See American Stock Exchange.

amid Not amidst.


ammunition See weapons.

amnesty See the entry that reads .

amok Not amuck.

among, between The maxim that between introduces two items and among introduces more than two covers most questions about how to use these words: 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: Negotiations on a debate format are under way between the network and the Ford, Carter and McCarthy committees.

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.

ampersand (&) See entry in Punctuation section.

amplitude modulation AM is acceptable in all references.

Amtrak This acronym, drawn from the words American travel by track, may be used in all references to the National Railroad Passenger Corp. Do not use AMTRAK.

The corporation was established by Congress in 1970 to take over intercity passenger operations from railroads that wanted to drop passenger service. Amtrak contracts with railroads for the use of their tracks and of certain other operating equipment and crews.

Amtrak is subsidized in part by federal funds appropriated yearly by Congress and administered through the Department of Transportation.

Amtrak should not be confused with Conrail (see separate entry). However, the legislation that established Conrail provided for Amtrak to gradually take over ownership of certain trackage in the Boston-Washington corridor and from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

Amtrak headquarters is in Washington.

AMVETS Acceptable in all references for American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

anchorman, anchorwoman (not anchor or co-anchor)

anemia, anemic

Anglican Communion This is the name for the worldwide association of the 22 separate national Anglican churches.

Each national church is independent. A special position of honor is accorded to the archbishop of Canterbury, as the pre-eminent officer in the original Anglican body, the Church of England.

The test of membership in the Anglican Communion traditionally has been whether a church has been in communion with the See of Canterbury. No legislative or juridical ties exist, however.

BELIEFS: Anglicans believe in the Trinity, the humanity and divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, salvation through Christ, and everlasting heaven and hell.

A principal difference between Roman Catholics and Anglicans is still the dispute that led to the formation of the Church of England — refusal to acknowledge that the pope, as bishop of Rome, has ruling authority over other bishops. See catholic, catholicism.

ANGLICAN CHURCHES: Members of the Anglican Communion, in addition to the Church of England, include the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and, in the United States, the Protestant Episcopal Church.

See Episcopal Church.

Anglo- Always capitalized. No hyphen when the word that follows is in lowercase:

Anglomania Anglophobe


Use a hyphen when the word that follows is capitalized:

Anglo-American Anglo-Indian

Anglo-Catholic Anglo-Saxon

angry At someone or with someone.

animals Do not apply a personal pronoun to an animal unless its sex has been established or the animal has a name: The dog was scared; it barked. Rover was scared; he barked. The cat, which was scared, ran to its basket. Susie the cat, who was scared, ran to her basket. The bull tosses his horns.

Capitalize the name of a specific animal, and use Roman numerals to show sequence: Bowser, Whirlaway II.

For breed names, follow the spelling and capitalization in Webster’s New World Dictionary. For breeds not listed in the dictionary, capitalize words derived from proper nouns; use lowercase elsewhere: basset hound, Boston terrier.

anno Domini See A.D.

annual An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years.

Do not use the term first annual. Instead, note that sponsors plan to hold an event annually.

annual meeting Lowercase in all uses.


another Another is not a synonym for additional; it refers to an element that somehow duplicates a previously stated quantity.

Right: Ten people took the test; another 10 refused.

Wrong: Ten people took the test; another 20 refused.

Right: Ten people took the test; 20 others refused.

Antarctic, Antarctica, Antarctic Ocean

ante- The rules in prefixes apply, but in general, no hyphen. Some examples:

antebellum antedate

anthems See composition titles. Lowercase the term national anthem.

anti- Hyphenate all except the following words, which have specific meanings of their own:

antibiotic antipasto

antibody antiperspirant

anticlimax antiphon

antidote antiphony

antifreeze antiseptic

antigen antiserum

antihistamine antithesis

antiknock antitoxin

antimatter antitrust

antimony antitussive


*And similar terms in physics such as antiproton.

This approach has been adopted in the interests of readability and easily remembered consistency.

Hyphenated words, many of them exceptions to Webster’s New World, include:

anti-aircraft anti-labor

anti-bias anti-Semitic

anti-inflation anti-social

anti-intellectual anti-war

See Antichrist, anti-Christ.

Antichrist, anti-Christ Antichrist is the proper name for the individual the Bible says will challenge Christ.

The adjective anti-Christ would be applied to someone or something opposed to Christ.

anticipate, expect 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.

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America Formed in 1975 by the merger of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Arch-diocese of New York and All North America and the Archdiocese of Toledo, Ohio, and Dependencies in North America. It is under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Antioch.

See Eastern Orthodox churches.

anybody, any body, anyone, any one One word for an indefinite reference: Anyone can do that.

Two words when the emphasis is on singling out one element of a group: Any one of them may speak up.

AP Use in logotypes. Acceptable on second reference for The Associated Press.

Do not capitalize the when it precedes AP.

See Associated Press.

apostolic delegate, papal nuncio An apostolic delegate is a Roman Catholic diplomat chosen by the pope to be his envoy to the church in a nation that does not have formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

A papal nuncio is the pope’s envoy to a nation with which the Vatican has diplomatic relations.

apostrophe (’) See entry in Punctuation section.

Appalachia In the broadest sense, the word applies to the entire region along the Appalachian Mountains, which extend from Maine into northern Alabama.

In a sense that often suggests economic depression and poverty, the reference is to sections of eastern Ten-nessee, eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio and the western portion of West Virginia.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, established by federal law in 1965, has a mandate to foster development in 397 counties in 13 states — all of West Virginia and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsyl-vania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

When the word Appalachia is used, specify the extent of the area in question.

Appalachian Mountains Or simply: the Appalachians.

appeals court See U.S. Court of Appeals.

apposition 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).

See the essential phrases, nonessential phrases entry for examples.

approve See the entry that reads adopt, approve, enact, pass.

April See months.

April Fools’ Day

Aqua-Lung A trademark for an underwater breathing apparatus.

See scuba.

Arabian American Oil Co. Aramco is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Arabic names In general, use an English spelling that approximates the way a name sounds in Arabic.

If an individual has a preferred spelling in English, use that. If usage has established a particular spelling, use that.

Problems in transliteration of Arabic names often are traceable to pronunciations that vary from region to region. The g, for example, is pronounced like the g of go in Northern Africa, but like the j of joy in the Arab Peninsula. Thus it is Gamal in Egypt and Jamal in nations on the peninsula. Follow local practice in deciding which letter to use.

Arabs commonly are known by two names (Fuad Butros), or by three (Ahmed Zaki Yamani). Follow the individual’s preference on first reference. On second reference, use only the final name in the sequence.

The articles al- or el- may be used or dropped depending on the person’s preference or established usage. Osama el-Baz, el-Baz or Moammar Gadhafi, Gadhafi.

The Arabic word for son (ibn or bin depending on personal preference and the nation) is sometimes part of a name (Rashid bin Humaid). On second reference, use only the final word in the name: Humaid.

The word abu, meaning father of, occasionally is used as a last name (Abdul Mohsen Abu Maizer). Capitalize and repeat it on second reference: Abu Maizer.

The titles king, emir, sheik and imam are used, but prince usually replaces emir. Some Arabs are known only by the title and a given name on first reference (King Hussein). Others are known by a complete name (Sheik Sabah Salem Sabah). Follow the common usage on first reference. On second reference, drop the title, using only the given name if it stood alone (Hussein) or the final name in the sequence if more than one was used on first reference (Sabah). Make an exception to this procedure for second reference if an individual commonly is known by some other one of the names used on first reference.

The al, when found in front of many newspaper names, means the. It should be capitalized, as in The New York Times, El Pais, Die Welt.

Arabic numerals The numerical figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

In general, use Arabic forms unless denoting the sequence of wars or establishing a personal sequence for people or animals. See Roman numerals.

Separate entries list more details and examples. For a full list, see the numerals entry.

arbitrate, mediate 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.

arch- No hyphen after this prefix unless it precedes a capitalized word:

archbishop arch-Republican

archenemy archrival

archbishop See Episcopal Church; Roman Catholic Church; and religious titles.

archbishop of Canterbury In general, lowercase archbishop unless it is used before the name of the individual who holds the office.

Capitalize Archbishop of Canterbury standing alone only when it is used in a story that also refers to members of Britain’s nobility. See the nobility entry for the relevant guidelines.

archdiocese Capitalize as part of a proper name: the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Archdiocese. Lowercase when it stands alone.

See the entry for the particular denomination in question.

arctic, Arctic Circle, arctic fox, Arctic Ocean

are A unit of surface measure in the metric system, equal to 100 square meters.

An are is equal to approximately 1,076.4 square feet or 119.6 square yards.

See hectare and metric system.

area codes See telephone numbers.

Arizona Abbrev.: Ariz. See state names.

Arkansas Abbrev.: Ark. See state names.

Armenian Church of America The term encompasses two independent dioceses that cooperate in some activities: the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, for areas outside California, and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, which serves California.

See Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Armistice Day It is now Veterans Day.

army 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.

See military academies and military titles.

arrest 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.

For guidelines on related words, see accuse; allege; and indict.

arrive It requires the preposition at. Do not omit, as airline dispatchers often do in: He will arrive La Guardia.


artificial intelligence Ideally, computers that think like humans. Currently, computers cannot apply experience, logic, and prediction to problem-solving. They act only on instructions, either from the program or from the user.

artillery See weapons.

artworks See composition titles.

as See like, as.

ASCII An acronym for American Standard for Computer Information Interchange. A standard computer code for the easy exchange of information among various types of data processing and data communications equipment.

ashcan, ashtray

Ash Wednesday The first day of Lent, 46 days before Easter.

See Easter and Lent.

Asian, Asiatic Use Asian or Asians when referring to people.

Some Asians regard Asiatic as offensive when applied to people.

Asian flu

Asian subcontinent In popular usage the term applies to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sikkim and the island nation of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) at the southeastern tip of India.

For definitions of the terms that apply to other parts of Asia, see Far East; Middle East; and Southeast Asia.

as if The preferred form, but as though is acceptable.

assassin, killer, murderer An assassin is a politically motivated killer.

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.

See execute and the homicide, murder, manslaughter entry.

assassination, date of A prominent person is shot one day and dies the next. Which day was he assassinated? The day he was attacked.

assault, battery Popularly, 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.

assembly Capitalize when part of the proper name for the lower house of a legislature: the California Assembly. Retain capitalization if the state name is dropped but the reference is specific:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The state Assembly ...

If a legislature is known as a gener-al assembly: the Missouri General Assembly, the General Assembly, the assembly. Legislature also may be used as the proper name, however. See legislature.

Lowercase all plural uses: the California and New York assemblies.

assemblyman, assemblywoman Do not abbreviate. See legislative titles.

assistant Do not abbreviate. Capitalize only when part of a formal title before a name: Assistant Secretary of State George Ball. Whenever practical, however, an appositional construction should be used: George Ball, assistant secretary of state.

See titles.

associate Never abbreviate. Apply the same capitalization norms listed under assistant.

Associated Press, The The newsgathering cooperative dating from 1848.

Use The Associated Press on first reference (the capitalized article is part of the formal name).

On second reference, AP or the AP (no capital on the) may be used.

The address is 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10020. The telephone number is (212) 621-1500.

The following are service names used most frequently by the AP.




DataStream 500 Stocks






Network News






See the AP entry.

Association Do not abbreviate. Capitalize as part of a proper name: American Medical Association.

astronaut It is not a formal title. Do not capitalize when used before a name: astronaut John Glenn.

AT&T Corp. The full name of the business formerly known as American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

Headquarters is in New York.

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway A subsidiary of Santa Fe Industries.

Headquarters is in Chicago.

atheist See the agnostic, atheist entry.

athlete’s foot, athlete’s heart

Atlanta The city in Georgia stands alone in datelines.

Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Richfield Co. Arco is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in Los Angeles.

Atlantic Standard Time, Atlantic Daylight Time Used in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and in Puerto Rico.

See time zones.

at large Usually two words for an individual representing more than a single district: congressman at large, councilman at large.

But it is ambassador-at-large for an ambassador assigned to no particular country.

Atomic Age It began Dec. 2, 1942, at the University of Chicago with the creation of the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

Atomic Energy Commission It no longer exists. See Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

attache It is not a formal title. Always lowercase.

attorney, lawyer 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.

See lawyer.

attorney general, attorneys general Never abbreviate. Capitalize only when used as a title before a name: Attorney General Griffin B. Bell.

See titles.

augur A transitive verb. Do not follow it with the preposition for: The tea leaves augur a time of success.

August See months.

author A noun used for both men and women. Do not use it as a verb.

automaker, automakers

automatic See pistol and weapons entries.

automobiles Capitalize brand names: Buick, Ford, Mustang, Accord, Toyota, Taurus, Saturn. Lowercase generic terms: Sunfire convertible, Windstar minivan.

Auto-Train Corp. A private company that hauls passengers and their cars, leasing rails and equipment owned by other companies.

Headquarters is in Washington.

autoworker, autoworkers One word when used generically.

But Auto Worker when referring specifically to the membership and the activities of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

autumn See seasons.

avenue Abbreviate only with a numbered address. See addresses.

average, mean, median, norm Average refers to the result obtained by dividing a sum by the number of quantities added together: The average of 7, 9, 17 is 33 divided by 3, or 11.

Mean commonly designates a figure intermediate between two extremes, determined by adding the series of numbers and dividing the sum by the number of cases: The mean temperature of five days with temperatures of 67, 62, 68, 69, 64 is 66.

Median is the middle number of points in a series arranged in order of size: The median grade in the group of 50, 55, 85, 88, 92 is 85. The average is 74.

Norm implies a standard of average performance for a given group: The child was below the norm for his age in reading comprehension.

average of The phrase takes a plural verb in a construction such as: An average of 100 new jobs are created daily.

averse See adverse, averse.

Avianca The headquarters of this airline is in Bogota, Columbia.

aviator Use for both men and women.

awards and decorations Capitalize them: Bronze Star, Medal of Honor, etc.

See Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize.


awhile, a while He plans to stay awhile.

He plans to stay for a while.

AWOL Acceptable on second reference for absent without leave.

ax Not axe.

The verb forms: ax, axed, axing.

Axis The alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II.