Use of Terms A-Z

Military Community and Family Policy writing guidance aligns with The Associated Press Stylebook with a few exceptions. Definitions of military-specific terms appear below, along with editorial guidance for certain commonly used words for MC&FP and our programs. See additional writing guidance in the Writing Best Practices section. Find program-specific guidance in the Program Content Guides section.


Dallas – The city stands alone in datelines.

dates – Always use Arabic figures, and do not use st, nd or th. See the AP Stylebook for guidance on months. Punctuate dates and date ranges as follows:

  • Month, day, year: Sept. 7, 2018
  • Date range: April 24-28 (hyphen)
  • Date range: I will be here from Oct. 14, 2020, to Jan. 18, 2021. (comma after the year and before “to”)
  • Date range: August – November ( dash, en not em, with one space on either side of the dash)
  • To indicate someone’s lifetime: May 1, 1921, to Aug. 16, 1974 (no hyphen or dash, use “to”)

day care – Two words, never takes a hyphen.

defense spending – Military spending is the preferred term.

department – See the AP Stylebook for the full listing of all government departments for first and subsequent references. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms when possible. A phrase such as the department is preferable in subsequent references because it is more readable and avoids alphabet soup. Lowercase department in plural uses but capitalize the proper name element: the departments of Labor and Justice. Lowercase the department whenever it stands alone and do not abbreviate department in any usage.

Department of Defense – Spell out on first reference. It is then acceptable to use DOD.

Department of Defense publications – When referencing Department of Defense publications, including directives, instructions and service publications, cite the publication number and the document title. Put quotation marks around the title. For example, JCS Pub 1, “Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States.” See also composition titles.

dependent – Use family member unless usage is in conjunction with a formal description of military benefits.

Djibouti – The name of this East African country and city stands alone in datelines.

Domestic Violence Prevention Month – MC&FP’s official name for this recognition.

“don’t ask, don’t tell” – This 1993 policy, which barred gays from openly serving in the military, was overturned in 2011.