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 of the 48 continental, or contiguous, states and the District of Columbia. It includes Alaska and Hawaii.

office – Capitalize office when it is part of an agency’s formal name: Office of Management and Budget. Lowercase in all other uses, including phrases such as the office of the attorney general, the U.S. attorney’s office.

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 example: 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.

offline – No hyphen.

off-site – Use the hyphen, also on-site. 

online – One word in all cases for the computer connection term.

order of precedence for the services – Use this order: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Department of Defense service provider, Department of Defense Expeditionary Civilian workforce. 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 thanOver 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 any place other than 50 United 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.”

Oval Office – The White House office of the president.