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.


OCONUS (outside the continental U.S.) – Refers to any place outside the 48 continental, or contiguous, states and the District of Columbia. It includes Alaska and Hawaii.

offices and centers – When referring to an installation office or center, such as a legal office or child development center, lowercase the term when using it in a general sense. Capitalize the term when referring to a specific office or center on a specific installation. For an example of using the lowercase term: Child development centers generally offer child care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. For an example where you would capitalize the term: The Fort Bragg Legal Office is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Note: The need to refer to installation-specific offices and centers most commonly arises on the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website.

order of precedence for the military services – Use this order:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Space Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Army National Guard
  • Army Reserve
  • Navy Reserve
  • Marine Corps Reserve
  • Air National Guard
  • Air Force Reserve
  • Coast Guard Reserve
  • Defense Department service provider
  • Defense Department Expeditionary Civilian workforce

When referring to the National Guard and the reserves together, the National Guard comes first.

Use "U.S." before service names only when the context is unclear without it.

ordinal numbers – Ordinal numbers indicate order. Spell out first through ninth and then use figures: first, third, 10th, 101st. Ordinal numbers should not be superscript; the font size of the letters should match the font size of the number. Correct: 10th. Incorrect: 10th.

over/more than – Over generally refers to spatial relationships, as opposed to more than, which is used to indicate greater numerical value. The plane flew over the city. Pay went up more than $100.

overseas – Refers to anywhere other than the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The term includes U.S. territories and possessions, and foreign countries. When referring to foreign countries, MC&FP describes them as "outside of the United States and outside of the U.S. territories and possessions."