cabinet Capitalize references to a specific body of advisers heading executive departments for a president, king, governor, etc.: The president-elect said he has not made his Cabinet selections.

The capital letter distinguishes the word from the common noun meaning cupboard, which is lowercase.

See department for a listing of all the U.S. Cabinet departments.

Cabinet titles Capitalize the full title when used before a name; lowercase in other uses: Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, but Juanita M. Kreps, secretary of commerce.

See titles.

cactus, cactuses

cadet See military academies.

Caesarean section

caliber The form: .38-caliber pistol.

See weapons.

California Abbrev.: Calif. See state names.

call letters Use all caps. Use hyphens to separate the type of station from the basic call letters: WBZ-AM, WBZ-FM, WBZ-TV.

Until the summer of 1976, the format for citizens band operators was three letters and four figures: KTE9136. Licenses issued since then use four letters and four figures: KTEM1234.

Shortwave stations, which operate with greater power than citizens band stations and on different frequencies, typically mix letters and figures: K2LRX.

See channel; citizens band; radio station; and television station.

call up (v.) call-up (n. and adj.)

Cambodia Use this rather than Kampuchea in datelines since the country continues to be known more widely by this name. In the body of stories Kampuchea may be used as long as it is identified as another name for Cam-bodia.

Cameroon Not Camerouns or Cameroun. See geographic names.

Camp Fire Boys and Girls The full name of the national organization formerly known as Camp Fire, Inc. Founded in 1910 as Camp Fire Girls, the name was changed to Camp Fire, Inc., in 1979, and again in 1993 to reflect the inclusion of boys. Headquarters is in Kansas City, Mo.

Both girls and boys are included in all levels of the organization. Boys and girls in kindergarten through second grades are Starflights. Children in third through fifth grades are Adventure club members. Children in sixth through eighth grades are Discovery members. Youths in ninth through 12th grades are Horizon members.

campaign manager Do not treat as a formal title. Always lowercase.

See titles.

Canada Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec and Toronto stand alone in datelines. For all other datelines, use the city name and the name of the province or territory spelled out.

The 10 provinces of Canada are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland (includes Labrador), Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The two territories are the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The provinces have substantial autonomy from the federal government.

The territories are administered by the federal government, although residents of the territories do elect their own legislators and representatives to Parliament.

See datelines.

Canada goose Not Canadian goose.

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. CBC is acceptable in all references within contexts such as a television column. Otherwise, do not use CBC until second reference.

canal Capitalize as integral part of a proper name: the Suez Canal.

Canal Zone Do not abbreviate. No longer used except when referring to the Panama Canal area during the time it was controlled by the United States, 1904-1979.

cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation

cannon, canon A cannon is a weapon. See the weapons entry.

A canon is a law or rule, particularly of a church.


cant The distinctive stock words and phrases used by a particular sect or class.

See dialect.

can’t hardly A double negative is implied. Better is: can hardly.

cantor See Jewish congregations.

Canuck It means a French Canadian, and often is considered a derogatory racial label. Avoid the word except in formal names (the Vancouver Canucks, a professional hockey team) or in quoted matter.

See the nationalities and races entry.

canvas, canvass Canvas is heavy cloth.

Canvass is a noun and a verb denoting a survey.

cape Capitalize as part of a proper name: Cape Cod, Cape Hatteras. Lowercase when standing alone.

Although local practice may call for capitalizing the Cape when the rest of the name is clearly understood, always use the full name on first reference in wire copy. On second reference in wire copy, either repeat the full name or use the cape in lowercase.

Cape Canaveral, Fla. Formerly Cape Kennedy. See John F. Kennedy Space Center.

capital The city where a seat of government is located. Do not capitalize.

When used in a financial sense, capital describes money, equipment or property used in a business by a person or corporation.

capitalization 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 Diction-ary. 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 identifica-tion 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 all plural uses: the Democratic and Republican parties, Main and State streets, lakes Erie and Ontario.

Among entries that provide addi-tional guidelines are:

animals historical periods

brand names and events

buildings holidays and holy

committee days

congress legislature

datelines months

days of the week monuments

directions and nationalities and

regions races

family names nicknames

food organizations and

foreign governmental institutions

bodies plants

foreign legislative planets

bodies police department

geographic names religious references

governmental seasons

bodies trademarks

heavenly bodies 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 North 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 lower- casing 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, manhattan cocktail, malapropism, pasteurize, quixotic, venetian blind.

SENTENCES: Capitalize the first word in a statement that stands as a sentence. See sentences and parentheses.

In poetry, capital letters are used for the first words of some phrases that would not be capitalized in prose. See poetry.

COMPOSITIONS: Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc. See composition titles; magazine names; and newspaper names.

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.

See academic titles; courtesy titles; legislative titles; military titles; nobility titles; religious titles; and titles.

ABBREVIATIONS: Capital letters apply in some cases. See the abbreviations and acronyms entry.

capitol 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.

captain See military titles for military and police usage.

Lowercase and spell out in such uses as team captain Carl Yastrzemski.

carat, caret, karat The weight of precious stones, especially diamonds, is expressed in carats. A carat is equal to 200 milligrams or about 3 grains.

A caret is a writer’s and a proofreader’s mark.

The proportion of pure gold used with an alloy is expressed in karats.

carbine See weapons.

cardinal See Roman Catholic Church.

cardinal numbers See numerals.

CARE Acceptable in all references for Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere Inc.

Headquarters is in New York.



Caribbean See Western Hemisphere.

carmaker, carmakers

car pool

carry-over (n. and adj.)

cash on delivery c.o.d. is preferred in all references.

caster, castor Caster is a roller.

Castor is the spelling for the oil and the bean from which it is derived.

catalog, cataloged, cataloger, cataloging, catalogist

Caterpillar A trademark for a brand of crawler tractor.

Use lowercase for the wormlike larva of various insects.

catholic, catholicism Use Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic or Roman Catholicism in the first references to those who believe that the pope, as bishop of Rome, has the ultimate authority in administering an earthly organization founded by Jesus Christ.

Most subsequent references may be condensed to Catholic Church, Catholic or Catholicism. Roman Catholic should continue to be used, however, if the context requires a distinction between Roman Catholics and members of other denominations who often describe themselves as Catholic. They include some high church Episcopalians (who often call themselves Anglo-Catholics), members of Eastern Orthodox churches, and members of some national Catholic churches that have broken with Rome. Among churches in this last category are the Polish National Catholic Church and the Lithuanian National Catholic Church.

Lowercase catholic where used in its generic sense of general or universal, meanings derived from a similar word in Greek.

Those who use Catholic in a religious sense are indicating their belief that they are members of a universal church that Jesus Christ left on Earth.

cats See animals.

cattle See animals.


cave in (v.) cave-in (n. and adj.)

CB See citizens band radio.

CBS Acceptable in all references for CBS Inc., the former Columbia Broadcasting System.

Divisions include CBS News, CBS Radio and CBS-TV.

CD-ROM Acronym for a compact disc acting as a read-only memory device.

CD-ROM disc is redundant.

cease-fire, cease-fires (n. and adj.) The verb form is cease fire.

celebrant, celebrator Reserve celebrant for someone who conducts a religious rite: He was the celebrant of the Mass.

Use celebrator for someone having a good time: The celebrators kept the party going until 3 a.m.

cellophane Formerly a trademark, now a generic term.

Celsius Use this term rather than centigrade for the temperature scale that is part of the metric system.

The Celsius scale is named for Anders Celsius, a Swedish astronomer who designed it. In it, zero represents the freezing point of water, and 100 degrees is the boiling point at sea level.

To convert to Fahrenheit, multiply a Celsius temperature by 9, divide by 5 and add 32 (25 x 9 equals 225, divided by 5 equals 45, plus 32 equals 77 degrees Fahrenheit).

When giving a Celsius temperature, use these forms: 40 degrees Celsius or 40 C (note the space and no period after the capital C) if degrees and Celsius are clear from the context.

See Fahrenheit and metric system entries.

cement Cement is the powder mixed with water and sand or gravel to make concrete. The proper term is concrete (not cement) pavement, blocks, drive- ways, etc.

censer, censor, censure A censer is a container in which incense is burned.

To censor is to prohibit or restrict the use of something.

To censure is to condemn.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The centers, located in Atlanta, are the U.S. Public Health Service’s national agencies for control of infectious and other preventable diseases. It works with state health departments to provide specialized services that they are unable to maintain on an everyday basis.

The normal form for first reference is the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC is acceptable on second reference.

centi- A prefix denoting one-hundredth of a unit. Move a decimal point two places to the left in converting to the basic unit: 155.6 centimeters equals 1.556 meters.

centigrade See Celsius.

centimeter One-hundredth of a meter.

There are 10 millimeters in a centimeter.

A centimeter is approximately the width of a large paper clip.

To convert to inches, multiply by .4 (5 centimeters x .4 equals 2 inches).

See meter; metric system; and inch.

Central America See Western Hemisphere.

Central Conference of American Rabbis See Jewish Congregations.

Central Intelligence Agency CIA is acceptable in all references.

The formal title for the individual who heads the agency is director of central intelligence. On first reference: Director George Bush of the CIA, Director of Central Intelligence George Bush, or CIA Director George Bush.

Central Standard Time (CST), Central Daylight Time (CDT) See time zones.

cents Spell out the word cents and lowercase, using numerals for amounts less than a dollar: 5 cents, 12 cents. Use the $ sign and decimal system for larger amounts: $1.01, $2.50.

Numerals alone, with or without a decimal point as appropriate, may be used in tabular matter.

century Lowercase, spelling out numbers less than 10: the first century, the 20th century.

For proper names, follow the organization’s practice: 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fund, Twentieth Century Limited.

Ceylon It is now Sri Lanka, which should be used in datelines and other references to the nation.

The people may be referred to as Ceylonese (n. or adj.) or Sri Lankans. The language is Sinhalese.


Chagas’ disease After Charles Chagas, a Brazilian physician who identified the chronic wasting disease caused by the parasite that is carried by insects.

chain saw (two words)

chairman, chairwoman 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.

Do not use chairperson unless it is an organization’s formal title for an office.

See titles.

chamber of deputies See foreign legislative bodies.

chancellor The translation to English for the first minister in the governments of Germany and Austria. Capitalize when used before a name.

See the premier, prime minister entry and titles.



change up (v.) change-up (n. and adj.)

channel Capitalize when used with a figure; lowercase elsewhere: She turned to Channel 3. No channel will broadcast the game.

Also: the English Channel, but the channel on second reference.

chapters Capitalize chapter when used with a numeral in reference to a section of a book or legal code. Always use Arabic figures: Chapter 1, Chapter 20.

Lowercase when standing alone.

character, reputation Character refers to moral qualities.

Reputation refers to the way a person is regarded by others.

charismatic groups See religious movements.

Charleston, Charlestown, Charles Town Charleston is the name of the capital of West Virginia and a port city in South Carolina.

Charlestown is a section of Boston.

Charles Town is the name of a small city in West Virginia.


chauvinism, chauvinist The words mean unreasoning devotion to one’s race, sex, country, etc., with contempt for other races, sexes, countries, etc.

The terms come from Nicolas Chauvin, a soldier of Napoleon I, who was famous for his devotion to the lost cause.

check up (v.) checkup (n.)

Chemical Mace A trademark, usually shortened to Mace, for a brand of tear gas that is packaged in an aerosol canister and temporarily stuns its victims.

chess In stories, the names and pieces are spelled out, lowercase: king, queen, bishop, pawn, knight, rook, kingside, queenside, white, black.

Use the algebraic notation in providing tabular summaries.

In algebraic notation, the “ranks” are the horizontal rows of squares. The ranks take numbers, 1 to 8, beginning on white’s side of the board.

The “files” are the vertical rows of squares. They take letters, a through h, beginning on white’s left.

Thus, each square is identified by its file letter and rank number.

In the starting position, white’s queen knight stands on b1, the queen on d1, the king on e1; black’s queen knight stands on b8, the queen on d8, the king on e8, and so on.

Other features of the system follow:

—DESIGNATION OF PIECES: The major pieces are shown by a capital letter: K for king, Q for queen, R for rook, B for bishop and N for knight. No symbol is used for the pawn.

—MOVES BY PIECES: Shown by the letter of the piece (except for the pawn) and the destination square. For instance, Bb5 means the bishop moves to square b5.

—MOVES BY PAWNS: Pawn moves are designated only by the name of the destination square. Thus, e4 means the pawn on the e file moves to e4.

—CASTLING: It is written as 0-0 for the kingside and 0-0-0 for the queenside. Kingside is the side of the board (right half from white’s point of view, left half from black’s), on which each player’s king starts. The other half is queenside.

—CAPTURES BY PIECES: A capture is recorded using an x after the letter for the capturing piece. For instance, if white’s bishop captures the black pawn at the f6 square, it is written Bxf6.

—CAPTURES BY PAWNS: When a pawn captures a piece, the players name the file the pawn was on and the square where it made the capture. If white’s pawn on a g file captured black’s pawn on f6 square, the move would be gxf6. If black’s pawn on an f file captured white’s, it would be fxg5.

—CHECK: Use plus sign.

—AMBIGUITY: If more than one piece of the same type can move to a square, the rank number or file letter of the origination square is added. Thus, if a rook on d1 were to move to d4, but another rook also could move there, instead of Rd4 the move would be given as R1d4. If there are black knights on c6 and e6, and the one on e6 moves to d4, the move is given as Ned4.

The form, taken from a 1993 championship match:

Short Karpov

(White) (Black)

1. e4 c5

2. Nf3 d6

3. d4 cxd4

4. Nxd4 Nf6

5. Nc3 a6

6. Bc4 e6

7. Bb3 Nbd7

8. f4 Nc5

9. f5 Be7

10. Qf3 0-0

11. Be3 e5

12. Nde2 b5

13. Bd5 Rb8

14. b4 Ncd7

15. 0-0 Nxd5

16. Nxd5 Bb7

17. Nec3 Nf6

18. Rad1 Bxd5

19. Nxd5 Nxd5

20. Rxd5 Rc8

21. Qg4 f6

22. Rf3 Rxc2

23. Rh3 Rf7

24. Qh5 h6

25. Qg6 Kf8

26. Bxh6 gxh6

27. Rxh6 Qb6+

28. Rc5 Bd8

29. Rh8+ Ke7

30. Rh7 Rxh7

31. Qxh7+ Kf8

Draw agreed.

Chevron Corp. Formerly Standard Oil Co. of California.

Chevy Not Chevie or Chevvy. This nickname for the Chevrolet should be used only in automobile features or in quoted matter.

Chicago The city in Illinois stands alone in datelines.

chief Capitalize as a formal title before a name: She spoke to Police Chief Michael Codd. He spoke to Chief Michael Codd of the New York police.

Lowercase when it is not a formal title: union chief Walter Reuther.

See titles.

chief justice Capitalize only as a formal title before a name: Chief Justice Warren Burger. The officeholder is the chief justice of the United States, not of the Supreme Court.

See judge.

ChileThe nation.

chili, chilies The peppers.

chilly Moderately cold.

China When used alone, it refers to the mainland nation. Use it in datelines and other routine references.

Use People’s Republic of China, Communist China, mainland China or Red China only in direct quotations or when needed to distinguish the mainland and its government from Taiwan.

For datelines on stories from the island of Taiwan, use the name of a community and Taiwan. In the body of a story, use Nationalist China or Taiwan for references to the government based on the island. Use the formal name of the government, the Republic of China, when required for legal precision.

Chinaman A patronizing term. Confine it to quoted matter.

Chinese names For most Chinese place names and personal names, use the official Chinese spelling system known as Pinyin: Senior leader Deng Xiaoping, Beijing, or Zhejiang province.

Note that the Chinese usually give the family name first (Deng) followed by the given name (Xiaoping). Second reference should be the family name only: Deng.

The Pinyin spelling system eliminates the hyphen and/or apostrophe previously used in many given names.

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 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.

And use the traditional American spellings for well-known deceased people such as Chou En-lai, Mao Tse-tung, Sun Yat-sen.

Follow local spellings in stories dealing with Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Some Chinese have Westernized their names, putting their given names or the initials for them first: P.Y. Chen, Jack Wang. In general, follow an individual’s preferred spelling.

Normally Chinese women do not take their husbands’ surnames. Use the courtesy titles Mrs., Miss, or Ms. only when specifically requested. Never use Madame or Mme.

chip An integrated computer circuit.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) The parentheses and the words they surround are part of the formal name.

The body owes its origins to an early 19th-century frontier movement to unify Christians.

The Disciples, led by Alexander Campbell in western Pennsylvania, and the Christians, led by Barton W. Stone in Kentucky, merged in 1832.

The local church is the basic organizational unit.

National policies are developed by the General Assembly, made up of representatives chosen by local churches and regional organizations.

The church lists more than 1 million members.

All members of the clergy may be referred to as ministers. Pastor applies if a minister leads a congregation.

On first reference, use the Rev. before the name of a man or woman. On second reference, use only the last name of a man; use Miss, Mrs., Ms. or no title before the last name of a woman depending on her preference.

See religious titles.

Christian Science Church See Church of Christ, Scientist.

Christmas, Christmas Day Dec. 25. The federal legal holiday is observed on Friday if Dec. 25 falls on a Saturday, on Monday if it falls on a Sunday.

Never abbreviate Christmas to Xmas or any other form.

church Capitalize as part of the formal name of a building, a congregation or a denomination; lowercase in other uses: St. Mary’s Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic and Episcopal churches, a Roman Catholic church, a church.

Lowercase in phrases where the church is used in an institutional sense: She believes in the separation of church and state. The pope said the church opposes abortion.

See religious titles and the entry for the denomination in question.

Churches of Christ Approximately 18,000 independent congregations with a total U.S. membership of more than 2 million cooperate under this name. They sponsor numerous educational activities, primarily radio and television programs.

Each local church is autonomous and operates under a governing board of elders. The minister is an evangelist, addressed by members as Brother. The ministers do not use clergy titles. Do not precede their names by a title.

The churches do not regard themselves as a denomination. Rather, they stress a nondenominational effort to preach what they consider basic Bible teachings. The churches also teach that baptism is an essential part of the salvation process.

See religious movements.


Church of Christ, Scientist This denomination was founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy. Her teachings are contained in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which, along with the Bible, she ordained as the impersonal pastor of the church.

The Mother Church in Boston is the international headquarters. Its government provides for a board of directors, which transacts the business of the Mother Church.

A branch church, governed by its own democratically chosen board, is named First Church of Christ, Scien-tist, or Second Church, etc., according to the order of its establishment in a community.

The terms Christian Science Church or Churches of Christ, Scientist, are acceptable in all references to the denomination.

The word Christian is used because its teachings are based on the word and works of Jesus Christ. The word Science is used to reflect the concept that the laws of God are replicable and can be proved in healing sickness and sin.

The church is composed entirely of lay members and does not have clergy in the usual sense. Both men and women may serve as readers, practi-tioners, or lecturers.

The preferred form for these titles is to use a construction that sets them off from a name with commas. Capitalize them only when used as a formal title immediately before a name. Do not continue use of the title in subsequent references.

The terms reverend and minister are not applicable. Do not use the Rev. in any references.

See religious titles.

Church of England See Anglican Communion.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Note the capitalization and punctuation of Latter-day. Mormon church is acceptable in all references, but always include the proper name in a story dealing primarily with church activities.

The church is based on revelations that Joseph Smith said were brought to him in the 1820s by heavenly messengers.

Today, the church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, directs more than 22,000 congregations with more than 10 million members worldwide.

Church hierarchy is composed of men known as general authorities. Among them, the policy-making body is the First Presidency, made up of a president and two or more counselors. It has final authority in all spiritual and worldly matters.

CLERGY: All faithful male mem-bers over the age of 11 are members of the priesthood. They become elders sometime after their 18th birthdays. They may later become high priests, or bishops.

The only formal titles are president (for the head of the First Presidency), bishop (for members of the Presiding Bishopric and for local bishops) and elder (for other general authorities and church missionaries). Capitalize these formal titles before a name on first reference; use only the last name on second reference.

The terms minister or the Rev. are not used.

See religious titles.

SPLINTER GROUPS: The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other Latter Day Saints churches that resulted from the split after Smith’s death.

The largest is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (note the lack of a hyphen and the capitalized Day), with headquarters in Independence, Mo. It has about 1,000 churches and 150,000 members.

CIA Acceptable in all references for Central Intelligence Agency.


Cincinnati The city in Ohio stands alone in datelines.


Citibank The former First National City Bank. The parent holding company is Citicorp of New York.

cities and towns Capitalize them in all uses. See datelines for guidelines on when they should be followed by a state or a country name.

Capitalize official titles, including separate political entities such as East St. Louis, Ill., or West Palm Beach, Fla.

The preferred form for the section of a city is lowercase: the west end, northern Los Angeles. But capitalize widely recognized names for the sections of a city: South Side (Chicago), Lower East Side (New York).

Spell out the names of cities unless in direct quotes: A trip to Los Angeles, but: “We’re going to L.A.”

See city.

citizen, resident, subject, nation-al, native A citizen is a person who has acquired the full civil rights of a nation either by birth or naturalization. Cities and states in the United States do not confer citizenship. To avoid confusion, use resident, not citizen, in referring to inhabitants of states and cities.

Subject is the term used when the government is headed by a monarch or other sovereign.

National is applied to a person residing away from the nation of which he or she is a citizen, or to a person under the protection of a specified nation.

Native is the term denoting that an individual was born in a given location.

citizens band Without an apostrophe after the s, an exception to Webster’s New World based on widespread practice.

CB is acceptable on second reference.

The term describes a group of radio frequencies set aside by the Federal Communications Commission for local use at low power by individuals or businesses.

Until summer 1976, the format for call letters was three letters and four figures: KTE9136. Licenses issued since then use four letters and four figures: KTEM1234.

city Capitalize city as part of a proper name: Kansas City, New York City, Oklahoma City, Jefferson City.

Lowercase elsewhere: a Texas city; the city government; the city Board of Education; and all city of phrases: the city of Boston.

Capitalize when part of a formal title before a name: City Manager Francis McGrath. Lowercase when not part of the formal title: city Health Commissioner Frank Smith.

See city council and governmental bodies.

city commission See the next entry.

city council Capitalize when part of a proper name: the Boston City Council.

Retain capitalization if the reference is to a specific council but the context does not require the city name:

BOSTON (AP) — The City Council ...

Lowercase in other uses: the council, the Boston and New York city councils, a city council.

Use the proper name if the body is not known as a city council: the Miami City Commission, the City Commission, the commission; the Louisville Board of Aldermen, the Board of Aldermen, the board.

Use city council in a generic sense for plural references: the Boston, Louisville and Miami city councils.

city editor Capitalize as a formal title before a name. See titles.

city hall Capitalize with the name of a city, or without the name of a city if the reference is specific: Boston City Hall, City Hall.

Lowercase plural uses: the Boston and New York city halls.

Lowercase generic uses, including: You can’t fight city hall.


civil cases, criminal cases A civil case is one in which an individual, business or agency of government seeks damages or relief from another individual, business or agency of government. Civil actions generally involve a charge that a contract has been breached or that someone has been wronged or injured.

A criminal case is one that the state or the federal government brings against an individual charged with committing a crime.

Civil War


clean up (v.) cleanup (n. and adj.)

clear-cut (adj.)

clerical titles See religious titles.

Cleveland The city in Ohio stands alone in datelines.



Clorox A trademark for a brand of bleach.

closed shop A closed shop is an agreement between a union and an employer that requires workers to be members of a union before they may be employed.

A union shop requires workers to join a union within a specified period after they are employed.

An agency shop requires that the workers who do not want to join the union pay the union a fee instead of union dues.

A guild shop, a term often used when the union is The Newspaper Guild, is the same as a union shop.

See the right-to-work entry for an explanation of how some states prohibit contracts that require workers to join unions.

close-up (n. and adj.)

cloture Not closure, for the parliamentary procedure for closing debate.

Whenever practical, use a phrase such as closing debate or ending debate instead of the technical term.

CNN Acceptable in all references for the Cable News Network.

co- Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status:

co-author co-pilot

co-chairman co-respondent (in a

co-defendant divorce suit)

co-host co-signer

co-owner co-star

co-partner co-worker

(Several are exceptions to Webster’s New World in the interests of consis-tency.)

Use no hyphen in other combinations:

coed cooperate

coeducation cooperative

coequal coordinate

coexist coordination


Cooperate, coordinate and related words are exceptions to the rule that a hyphen is used if a prefix ends in a vowel and the word that follows begins with the same vowel.

Co. See company.

coast Lowercase when referring to the physical shoreline: Atlantic coast, Pacific coast, east coast.

Capitalize when referring to regions of the United States lying along such shorelines: the Atlantic Coast states, a Gulf Coast city, the West Coast, the East Coast.

Do not capitalize when referring to smaller regions: the Virginia coast.

Capitalize the Coast when standing alone only if the reference is to the West Coast.

coastal waters See weather terms.

coast guard Capitalize when referring to the U.S. force: the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard, Coast Guard policy, the Guard. Do not use the abbreviation USCG.

Use lowercase for similar forces of other nations.

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

See military academies.

Coast Guardsman Note spelling. Capitalize as a proper noun when referring to an individual in a U.S. Coast Guard unit: He is a Coast Guardsman.

Lowercase guardsman when it stands alone.

See military titles.



COBOL A computer programming language. Acronym for Common Business-Oriented Language. Use of COBOL on first reference is acceptable if identified as a programming language.

Coca-Cola, Coke Trademarks for a brand of cola drink.

cocaine The slang term coke should appear only in quoted matter.

Crack is a refined cocaine in crystalline rock form.

c.o.d. Acceptable in all references for cash on delivery or collect on delivery. (The use of lowercase is an exception to the first listing in Webster’s New World.)

Cold War Capitalize when referring specifically to the post-World War II rivalry between the United States and the former Soviet Union. Use only in the historic sense.

collective nouns 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.

collectors’ item

college Capitalize when part of a proper name: Dartmouth College.

Consult special sections of the Webster’s New World for lists of junior colleges, colleges and universities in the United States and Canadian colleges and universities.

See the organizations and institutions entry.

College of Cardinals See Roman Catholic Church.

collide, collision Two objects must be in motion before they can collide. An automobile cannot collide with a utility pole, for example.

colloquialisms The word describes the informal use of a language. It is not local or regional in nature, as dialect is.

Webster’s New World Dictionary identifies many words as colloquial with the label Colloq. The label itself, the dictionary says, “does not indicate substandard or illiterate usage.”

Many colloquial words and phrases characteristic of informal writing and conversation are acceptable in some contexts but out of place in others. Examples include bum, giveaway and phone.

Other colloquial words normally should be avoided because they are substandard. Webster’s New World notes, for example, that ain’t is colloquial and not automatically illiterate or sub- standard usage. But it also notes that ain’t is “a dialectical or substandard contraction.” Thus it should not be used in news stories unless needed to illustrate substandard speech in writing.

See the dialect and word selection entries.

colon See the entry in the Punctuation chapter.

colonel See military titles.

colonial Capitalize Colonial as a proper adjective in all references to the Colonies. (See the next entry.)

colonies Capitalize only for the British dependencies that declared their independence in 1776, now known as the United States.

Colorado Abbrev.: Colo. See state names.


colored In some societies, including the United States, the word is considered derogatory and should not be used.

In some countries of Africa, it is used to denote individuals of mixed racial ancestry. Whenever the word is used, place it in quotation marks and provide an explanation of its meaning.

Columbia Broadcasting System It no longer exists. See CBS.

Columbus Day Oct. 12. The federal legal holiday is the second Monday in October.

combat, combated, combating

comedian Use for both men and women.

comma See entry in Punctuation chapter.

commander See military titles.

commander in chief Capitalize only if used as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

commissioner Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title.

See titles.


committee Do not abbreviate. Capitalize when part of a formal name: the House Appropriations Committee.

Do not capitalize committee in shortened versions of long committee names: the Special Senate Select Committee to Investigate Improper Labor-Management Practices, for example, became the rackets committee.

See subcommittee.

commodity When used in a financial sense, the word describes the products of mining and agriculture before they have undergone extensive processing.

commonwealth A group of people united by their common interests.

See state.

Commonwealth of Independent States Founded Dec. 8, 1991, the federation is made up of 11 of the former republics of the U.S.S.R., or Soviet Union. Russia is the largest and richest. Three other former republics — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — became independent nations earlier in 1991. Moldova is the only former Soviet state that does not belong to the commonwealth.

The republics (with adjective form in parentheses):

Armenia (Armenian); Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani); Belarus (Belarussian); Estonia (Estonian); Georgia (Georgian); Kazakhstan (Kazakh); Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz); Latvia (Latvian); Lithuania (Lithuanian); Russia (Russian); Tajikistan (Tajik); Turkmenistan (Turkmen); Ukraine (no the) (Ukrainian); Uzbekistan (Uzbek).

DATELINES: MOSCOW stands alone. Follow all other datelines with the name of the state. ALMA-ATA, Kazakhstan.

BALTICS: Use the city and Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia in datelines from these Baltic nations.

Commonwealth, the Formerly the British Commonwealth. The members of this free association of sovereign states recognize the British sovereign as head of the Commonwealth. Some also recognize the sovereign as head of their state; others do not.

The members are: Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Cyprus, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, St. Lucia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, Western Samoa and Zambia. Nauru, a special member, participates in activities but not in meetings of government heads.

Communicable Disease Center The former name of the Centers for Disease Control. See entry under that name.

Communications Satellite Corp. See Comsat Corp.

Communications Workers of America The shortened form Communications Workers union is acceptable in all references.

Headquarters is in Washington.

communism, communist Lower- case, except in references to specific organizations: the Communist Party of Russia.

See the political parties and philosophies entry.

commutation See the pardon, parole, probations entry.

compact disc

company, companies Use Co. or Cos. when a business uses either word at the end of its proper name: Ford Motor Co., American Broadcasting Cos. But: Aluminum Company of America.

If company or companies appears alone in second reference, spell the word out.

The forms for possessives: Ford Motor Co.’s profits, American Broadcasting Cos.’ profits.

THEATRICAL: Spell out company in names of theatrical organizations: the Martha Graham Dance Company.

company (military) Capitalize only when part of a name: Company B. Do not abbreviate.

company names Consult the company or Standard & Poor’s Register of Corporations if in doubt about a formal name. Do not, however, use a comma before Inc. or Ltd.

Do not use all capital letter names unless the letters are individually pronounced: CRX, USX. Others should be uppercase and lowercase.

See the organizations and institutions entry.

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.


complacent, complaisant Complacent means self-satisfied.

Complaisant means eager to please.

complement, compliment 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 outfit.

complementary, complimentary The husband and wife have complementary careers.

They received complimentary tickets to the show.

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.

composition titles Apply the guidelines listed here to book titles, computer game titles (but not software titles), movie titles, opera titles, play titles, poem titles, song titles, 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 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.

—Translate a foreign title into English unless a work is known to the American public by its foreign name.

EXAMPLES: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Of Mice and Men,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Time After Time,” the NBC-TV “Today” program, the “CBS Evening News,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” See television program names for further guidelines and examples.

Reference works: Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft; Encyclopaedia Britannica; Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second Edi-tion.

Foreign works: Rousseau’s “War,” not Rousseau’s “La Guerre.” But: Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and “The Magic Flute.” But: “Die Walkuere” and “Gotterdammerung” from Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelungen.”

compound adjectives See the hyphen entry in the Punctuation chapter.

comptroller, controller Comp-troller generally is the accurate word for government financial officers.

The U.S. comptroller of the currency is an appointed official in the Treasury Department who is responsible for the chartering, supervising and liquidation of banks organized under the federal government’s National Bank Act.

Controller generally is the proper word for financial officers of businesses and for other positions such as aircraft controller.

Capitalize comptroller and controller when used as the formal titles for financial officers. Use lowercase for aircraft controller and similar occupational applications of the word.

See titles.

Comsat Corp. Formerly known as Communications Satellite Corp. Headquarters is in Bethesda, Md.

conclave A private or secret meeting. In the Roman Catholic Church it describes the private meeting of cardinals to elect a pope.

concrete See cement.

Confederate States of America The formal name of the states that seceded during the Civil War. The shortened form the Confederacy is acceptable in all references.

confess, confessed In some contexts the words may be erroneous.

See admit.

confirmation See sacraments.

Congo In datelines, give the name of the city followed by Congo:


In stories, the Congo or Congo as the construction of a sentence dictates.

Congo River Not the Zaire River. But when appropriate, stories may mention that Zaire, the nation on one of its banks, calls the river the Zaire.

Congregational churches The Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Christian Church in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ. It has some 1.8 million members.

The word church is correctly applied only to an individual local church. Each such church is responsible for the doctrine, ministry and ritual of its congregation.

A small body of churches that did not enter the United Church of Christ is known as the National Association of Congregational Churches. Churches in the association have more than 100,000 members.

Jesus is regarded as man’s savior, but no subscription to a set creed is required for membership.

Members of the clergy are known as ministers. Pastor applies if a minister leads a congregation.

On first reference, use the Rev. before the name of a man or woman. On second reference, use only the last name of a man; Miss, Mrs., Ms. or no title before the last name of a woman depending on her preference.

See religious titles.

congress Capitalize U.S. Congress and Congress when referring to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Although Congress sometimes is used as a substitute for the House, it properly is reserved for reference to both the Senate and House.

Capitalize Congress also if referring to a foreign body that uses the term, or its equivalent in a foreign language, as part of its formal name: the Argentine Congress, the Congress.

See foreign legislative bodies.

Lowercase when used as a synonym for convention or in second reference to an organization that uses the word as part of its formal name: the Congress of Racial Equality, the congress.

congressional Lowercase unless part of a proper name: congressional salaries, the Congressional Quarterly, the Congressional Record.

Congressional Directory Use this as the reference source for questions about the federal government that are not covered by this stylebook.

congressional districts Use figures and capitalize district when joined with a figure: the 1st Congressional District, the 1st District.

Lowercase district whenever it stands alone.

Congressional Record A daily publication of the proceedings of Congress including a complete stenographic report of all remarks and debates.

congressman, congresswoman Use only in reference to members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

See legislative titles.

Congress of Racial Equality CORE is acceptable on second reference.

Headquarters is in New York.

Connecticut Abbrev.: Conn. See state names.

connote, denote Connote means to suggest or imply something beyond the explicit meaning: To some people, the word marriage connotes too much restriction.

Denote means to be explicit about the meaning: The word demolish denotes destruction.

Conrail This acronym is acceptable in all references to Consolidated Rail Corp. (The corporation originally used ConRail, but later changed to Conrail.)

A private, for-profit corporation, Conrail was set up by Congress in 1976 to reorganize and consolidate six bankrupt Northeast railroads — the Penn Central, the Erie Lackawanna, Reading, Central of New Jersey, Lehigh Valley, and Lehigh & Hudson River.

The legislation provided for a $2 billion federal loan to the corporation and set a phased schedule of repayments. A total of 25 million shares of common stock were created, but the shares were not made available for public trading. Instead, the shares were issued in the names of voting trustees chosen to represent the individuals designated as the ultimate recipients after the settlement of litigation over the value of the property that Conrail took over.

Do not confuse Conrail with Amtrak (see separate entry). However, the legislation that set up Conrail also provided for Amtrak to gradually acquire from Conrail some of the property that had been owned by the bankrupt railroads.

Headquarters is in Philadelphia.


conservative See the political parties and philosophies entry.

Conservative Judaism See Jewish congregations.

constable Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

constitute See the compose, comprise, constitute entry.

constitution Capitalize references to the U.S. Constitution, with or without the U.S. modifier: The president said he supports the Constitution.

When referring to constitutions of other nations or of states, capitalize only with the name of a nation or a state: the French Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution, the nation’s constitution, the state constitution, the constitution.

Lowercase in other uses: the organization’s constitution.

Lowercase constitutional in all uses.

consul, consul general, consuls general Capitalize when used as a formal title before a noun.

See titles.

consulate A consulate is the residence of a consul in a foreign city. It handles the commercial affairs and personal needs of citizens of the appointing country.

Capitalize with the name of a nation; lowercase without it: the French Consulate, the U.S. Consulate, the consul-ate.

See embassy for the distinction between a consulate and an embassy.

consumer price index A measurement of changes in the retail prices of a constant marketbasket of goods and services. It is computed by comparing the cost of the marketbasket at a fixed time with its cost at subsequent or prior intervals.

Capitalize when referring to the U.S. index, issued monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency of the Labor Department.

The U.S. Consumer Price Index should not be referred to as a cost-of- living index, because it does not include the impact of income taxes and Social Security taxes on the cost of living, nor does it reflect changes in buying patterns that result from inflation. It is, however, the basis for computing cost-of-living raises in many union contracts.

The preferred form for second reference is the index. Confine CPI to quoted material.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Contac A trademark for a brand of decongestant.



continent The seven continents, in order of their land size: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Antarctica and Australia.

Capitalize the Continent and Continental only when used as synonyms for Europe or European. Lowercase in other uses such as: the continent of Europe, the European continent, the African and Asian continents.

Continental Airlines Use this spelling of Airlines, which Continental has adopted for its public identity. Only its incorporation papers still read Air Lines.

Headquarters is in Houston.

Continental Divide The ridge along the Rocky Mountains that separates rivers flowing east from those that flow west.

continental shelf, continental slope Lowercase. The shelf is the part of a continent that is submerged in relatively shallow sea at gradually increasing depths, generally up to about 600 feet below sea level.

The continental slope begins at the point where the descent to the ocean bottom becomes very steep.

continual, continuous 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.

contractions Contractions reflect informal speech and writing. Webster’s New World Dictionary includes many entries for contractions: aren’t for are not, for example.

Avoid excessive use of contractions. Contractions listed in the dictionary are acceptable, however, in informal contexts where they reflect the way a phrase commonly appears in speech or writing.

See Americanisms; colloquialisms; quotations in the news; and word selection.

Contra, Contras Uppercase when used to describe Nicaraguan rebel groups.

contrasted to, contrasted with Use contrasted to when the intent is to assert, without the need for elaboration, that two items have opposite characteristics: He contrasted the appearance of the house today to its ramshackle look last year.

Use contrasted with when juxtaposing two or more items to illustrate similarities and/or differences: He contrasted the Republican platform with the Democratic platform.

control, controlled, controlling

controller See the comptroller, controller entry.

controversial An overused word; avoid it. See noncontroversial.

convention Capitalize as part of the name for a specific national or state political convention: the Democratic National Convention, the Republican State Convention.

Lowercase in other uses: the national convention, the state convention, the convention, the annual convention of the American Medical Association.

convict (v.) Follow with preposition of, not for: He was convicted of murder.

convince, persuade You may be convinced that something or of something. You must be persuaded to do something.

Right: The robbers persuaded him to open the vault.

Wrong: The robbers convinced him to open the vault.

Right: The robbers convinced him that it was the right thing to do.

Wrong: The robbers persuaded him that it was the right thing to do.

cookie, cookies

cooperate, cooperative But co-op as a short term of cooperative, to distinguish it from coop, a cage for animals.

Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere See CARE.

coordinate, coordination

cop Be careful in the use of this colloquial term for police officer. It may be used in lighter stories and in casual, informal descriptions, but often is a derogatory term out of place in serious police stories.

copter Acceptable shortening of heli- copter. But use it only as a noun or adjective. It is not a verb.

copy editor Seldom a formal title. See titles.

copyright (n., v. and adj.) The disclosure was made in a copyright story.

Use copyrighted only as the past tense of the verb: He copyrighted the article.

See Copyright Guidelines in Appendix.

co-respondent In a divorce suit.

Corn Belt The region in the north central Midwest where much corn and corn-fed livestock are raised. It extends from western Ohio to eastern Nebraska and northeastern Kansas.

Corp. See corporation.

corporal See military titles.

corporate names See company names.

corporation An entity that is treated as a person in the eyes of the law. It is able to own property, incur debts, sue and be sued.

Abbreviate corporation as Corp. when a company or government agency uses the word at the end of its name: Gulf Oil Corp., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Spell out corporation when it occurs elsewhere in a name: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Spell out and lowercase corporation whenever it stands alone.

The form for possessives: Gulf Oil Corp.’s profits.

corps Capitalize when used with a word or a figure to form a proper name: the Marine Corps, the Signal Corps, the 9th Corps.

Capitalize when standing alone only if it is a shortened reference to U.S. Marine Corps.

The possessive form is corps’ for both singular and plural: one corps’ location, two corps’ assignments.

corral, corralled, corralling

correctional facility, correc-tional institution See the prison, jail entry.

Corsica Use instead of France in datelines on stories from communities on this island.

Cortes The Spanish parliament. See foreign legislative bodies.

cosmonaut The applicable occupational term for astronauts of the former Soviet Union. Always use lowercase.

See titles.

cost of living The amount of money needed to pay taxes and to buy the goods and services deemed necessary to make up a given standard of living, taking into account changes that may occur in tastes and buying patterns.

The term often is treated incorrectly as a synonym for the U.S. Consumer Price Index, which does not take taxes into account and measures only price changes, keeping the quantities constant over time.

Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier: The cost of living went up, but he did not receive a cost-of-living raise.

See the consumer price index and inflation entries.

Cotton Belt The region in the South and Southwestern sections of the United States where much cotton is grown.

council, councilor, councilman, councilwoman A deliberative body and those who are members of it.

See the counsel entry and legislative titles.

Council of Economic Advisers A group of advisers who help the U.S. president prepare his annual economic report to Congress and recommend economic measures to him throughout the year.

counsel, counseled, counseling, counselor, counselor at law To counsel is to advise. A counselor is one who advises.

A counselor at law (no hyphens for consistency with attorney at law) is a lawyer. See lawyer.

count, countess See nobility.

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

counteract counterproposal

countercharge counterspy



county Capitalize when an integral part of a proper name: Dade County, Nassau County, Suffolk County.

Capitalize the full names of county governmental units: the Dade County Commission, the Orange County Department of Social Services, the Suffolk County Legislature.

Retain capitalization for the name of a county body if the proper noun is not needed in the context; lowercase the word county if it is used to distinguish an agency from state or federal counterparts: the Board of Supervisors, the county Board of Supervisors; the Department of Social Services, the county Department of Social Services. Lowercase the board, the department, etc. whenever they stand alone.

Capitalize county if it is an integral part of a specific body’s name even without the proper noun: the County Commission, the County Legislature. Lowercase the commission, the legislature, etc. when not preceded by the word county.

Capitalize as part of a formal title before a name: County Manager John Smith. Lowercase when it is not part of the formal title: county Health Commissioner Frank Jones.

Avoid county of phrases where possible, but when necessary, always lowercase: the county of Westchester.

Lowercase plural combinations: Westchester and Rockland counties.

Apply the same rules to similar terms such as parish.

See governmental bodies.

county court In some states, it is not a court but the administrative body of a county. In most cases, the court is presided over by a county judge, who is not a judge in the traditional sense but the chief administrative officer of the county.

The terms should be explained if they are not clear in the context.

Capitalize all references to a specific county court, and capitalize county judge when used as a formal title before a name. Do not use judge alone before a name except in direct quotations.


SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A reluctant County Court approved a school budget today that calls for a 10 percent tax increase for property owners.

The county had been given an ultimatum by the state: Approve the budget or shut down the schools.

The chief administrative officer, County Judge Ray Reagan, said ...

coup d’etat The word coup usually is sufficient.

couple 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.

couple of 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.

course numbers Use Arabic numerals and capitalize the subject when used with a numeral: History 6, Philosophy 209.

court decisions Use figures and a hyphen: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, a 5-4 decision. The word to is not need- ed, but use hyphens if it appears in quoted matter: "The court ruled 5-to-4, the 5-to-4 decision."

court districts See court names.

courtesy titles In general, do not use the courtesy titles Miss, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. on first and last names of the person: Betty Ford, Jimmy Carter.

Do not use Mr. in any reference unless it is combined with Mrs.: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

On sports wires, do not use courtesy titles in any reference unless needed to distinguish among people of the same last name.

On news wires, use courtesy titles for women on second reference, following the woman’s preference. Use Ms. if a preference cannot be determined. If the woman says she does not want a courtesy title, refer to her on second reference by last name only. Some guidelines:

MARRIED WOMEN: The preferred form on first reference is to identify a woman by her own first name and her husband’s last name: Susan Smith. Use Mrs. on the first reference only if a woman requests that her husband’s first name be used or her own first name cannot be determined: Mrs. John Smith.

On second reference, use Mrs. unless a woman initially identified by her own first name prefers Ms.: Carla Hills, Mrs. Hills, Ms. Hills; or no title: Carla Hills, Hills.

If a married woman is known by her maiden name, precede it by Miss on second reference unless she prefers Ms.: Jane Fonda, Miss Fonda, Ms. Fonda; or no title, Jane Fonda, Fonda.

UNMARRIED WOMEN: For women who have never been married, use Miss, Ms. or no title on second reference according to the woman’s preference.

For divorced women and widows, the normal practice is to use Mrs. or no title, if she prefers, on second reference. But, if a woman returns to the use of her maiden name, use Miss, Ms. or no title if she prefers it.

MARITAL STATUS: If a woman prefers Ms. or no title, do not include her marital status in a story unless it is clearly pertinent.

See nobility and religious titles.

courthouse Capitalize with the name of a jurisdiction: the Cook County Courthouse, the U.S. Courthouse. Lowercase in other uses: the county courthouse, the courthouse, the federal courthouse.

Court House (two words) is used in the proper names of some communities: Appomattox Court House, Va.

court-martial, court-martialed, courts-martial

court names Capitalize the full proper names of courts at all levels.

Retain capitalization if U.S. or a state name is dropped: the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, the state Superior Court, the Superior Court, Superior Court.

For courts identified by a numeral: 2nd District Court, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

For additional details on federal courts, see judicial branch and separate listings under U.S. and the court name.

See judge for guidelines on titles before the names of judges.

Court of St. James’s Note the ’s. The formal name for the royal court of the British sovereign. Derived from St. James’s Palace, the former scene of royal receptions.


cover up (v.) cover-up (n. and adj.) He tried to cover up the scandal. He was prosecuted for the cover-up.

crack up (v.) crackup (n. and adj.)

crawfish Not crayfish. An exception to Webster’s New World based on the dominant spelling in Louisiana, where it is a popular delicacy.

criminal cases See the civil cases, criminal cases entry.

Crisco A trademark for a brand of vegetable shortening.

crisis, crises


criterion, criteria

cross-examine, cross-examination

cross-eye (n.) cross-eyed (adj.)

cross fire

crossover (n. and adj.)

cross section (n.) cross-section (v.)

CRT Abbreviation for cathode ray tube. Do not use. Display unit is among the terms preferred.

CT scan Computerized tomogra-phy, a method of making multiple X-ray images of the body or parts of the body and using a computer to construct, from those images, cross-sectional views. (Formerly known as CAT scan.)

Cub Scouts See Boy Scouts.

cuckoo clock

cup Equal to 8 fluid ounces. The approximate metric equivalents are 240 milliliters or .24 of a liter.

To convert to liters, multiply by .24 (14 cups x .24 = 3.36 liters, or 3,360 milliliters).

See liter.

cupful, cupfuls Not cupsful.

curate See religious titles.


Curia See Roman Catholic Church.

currency depreciation, currency devaluation A nation’s money depreciates when its value falls in relation to the currency of other nations or in relation to its own prior value.

A nation’s money is devalued when its government deliberately reduces its value in relation to the currency of other nations.

When a nation devalues its currency, the goods it imports tend to become more expensive. Its exports tend to become less expensive in other nations and thus more competitive.

curtain raiser

customs Capitalize U.S. Customs Service, or simply the Customs Service.

Lowercase elsewhere: a customs official, a customs ruling, she went through customs.

cut back (v.) cutback (n. and adj.) He cut back spending. The cutback will require frugality.

cut off (v.) cutoff (n. and adj.) He cut off his son’s allowance. The cutoff date for applications is Monday.

cyclone See weather terms.

Cyclone A trademark for a brand of chain-link fence.

cynic, skeptic A skeptic is a doubter.

A cynic is a disbeliever.

czar Not tsar. It was a formal title only for the ruler of Russia and some other Slavic nations.

Lowercase in all other uses.