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.


names – Spell out on first reference and use only the last name in subsequent references. Continue to use the first and last name to distinguish between people who use the same last name, such as married couples or family members. Refer to juveniles age 16 and older by last name in subsequent references, and by first name if they are 15 or younger. Exceptions include juvenile athletes, entertainers and those charged with serious crimes.

National Guard – Capitalize references to U.S. or state-level forces, or foreign forces using that formal name: the National Guard, the Guard, the California National Guard, National Guard troops, the Tunisian National Guard. Use the guard in subsequent references, the guard. When referring to an individual in a National Guard unit, use National Guardsman. Lowercase guardsman when it stands alone.

nautical mile – It equals 1 minute of arc of the earth or 6,076.11549 feet. To convert to approximate statute miles, multiply the number of nautical miles by 1.15.

Navy – Capitalize references to U.S. forces: the U.S. Navy, the Navy, Navy policy. Do not use USN. Lowercase when referring to naval forces of other nations: the French navy. Use “U.S.” before service names only when the context is unclear without it.

eNews or eNewsletter – Write as one word and do not hyphenate. 

no cost – Use this term when communicating to a leadership audience about Military OneSource services for eligible individuals. Specifically, use when writing content for leaders pertaining to Military OneSource policy or the Military OneSource contract. Hyphenate when using as an adjective (no-cost services). When writing about Military OneSource services for service and family members and service providers, use the term free.

non – Prefix rules apply, but in general, do not hyphenate compound words with no special meaning that are easily understood when not precedes the base word. Do use a hyphen before a proper noun or in awkward combinations, such as non-nuclear.


Non-medical counseling – Confidential non-medical counseling is available through both Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program for prevention of the development or exacerbation of lifestyle conditions that may compromise military and family readiness. It addresses issues such as improving relationships at home and work, stress management, adjustment issues (returning from a deployment), marital problems, parenting, grief and loss issues, and other military-related topics. Non-medical counseling is short-term and solution-focused. Note: When using in titles, capitalize as follows: Non-medical Counseling.