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.


federal – Lowercase.

first family – Always lowercase.

First Lady – As an exception to the AP Stylebook, capitalize as a formal title before a name. Lowercase in other uses.

fiscal, monetaryFiscal applies to budget matters while monetary applies to money supply.

fiscal year – This is the 12-month period that governmental or corporate bodies use for bookkeeping. In writing, use fiscal followed by the year, rather than FY20. For example: The federal government’s fiscal year starts three months prior to the calendar year – fiscal 2021, for example, runs from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.

fleet – Use figures and capitalize for proper names: the 7th Fleet. Lowercase when it stands alone.

flyer, flierFlyer is the preferred term: She is a frequent flyer. The flyers showcase installation events. Use flier in “take a flier,” which means to take a big risk.

fort – Spell out for cities or military installations: Fort Myers, Fort Belvoir.

Four-H Club4-H Club is preferred. Members are 4-H’ers.

Fourth of JulyIndependence Day is also acceptable.

free – Use free when the target audience is the military community, service members and family members. Free is easily understood and preferred when writing content for service and family members and service providers and should be used instead of no cost. However, when writing content for leaders pertaining to Military OneSource policy or the Military OneSource contract, use the term no cost. Facebook is the only exception to the rule. Due to its algorithms, use either no cost or a variation of “take advantage of your benefit.”