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.


page numbers – Use figures and capitalize page when pairing with a figure. When adding a letter to the figure, capitalize it but do not hyphenate: Page 1, Page 13, Page 13C. There is one exception: It’s a Page One story.

parentheses () – Use sparingly except for around logos in datelines. Example: MIAMI (AP). Parentheses are jarring to the reader and impact text readability. View them as a clue, when writing, that the sentence is becoming too bulky. Try to reword the sentence. If it must contain incidental material, commas and dashes are frequently much more effective.

percent – Use the % sign, with no space, when pairing with numerals: 1%, 60%. For fractions, use decimals: 2.5%. For a range: 10% to 15%; for amounts less than 1%, precede the decimal with a zero: The interest rate dropped 0.5%. Avoid starting a sentence with a percentage. If you cannot avoid it, spell out both the numeral and percent: Sixty percent of the service members attended.

phone numbers – Use figures. Use hyphens, not periods. For readability, keep phone numbers on one line of text. The form: 212-555-1234. For international numbers use 011, the country code, the city code and the telephone number: 011-44-20-7535-0000. The form for toll-free numbers: 800-342-9647. If an extension number is needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212-621-1234, ext. 53.

Pinterest – Users of this social network collect and share web images in themed collections known as pinboards or boards, sharing or pinning images known as pins.

please – Do not use please in content for Military Community and Family Policy digital properties, including websites, applications and social platforms. This includes website articles, collateral material and social posts. For example, do not say, “Please visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS when planning your next move.” Instead, say, “Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS when planning your next move.” Please is acceptable, however, in blogs and correspondence, as appropriate. Outreach Operations must approve all other exceptions.

president – Capitalize only when using as a formal title before one or more names: President Abraham Lincoln, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Lowercase all other uses. Use the first and family name on first reference; use only the last name in subsequent references.

presidential – Lowercase except when part of a proper name.

Presidents Day – No apostrophe for this term, which some federal agencies, states and local governments use to jointly recognize the contributions of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, both born in February.

prisoner(s) of war – Spell out on first reference. In subsequent references, POW(s) is acceptable. Hyphenate as compound modifier: A prisoner-of-war memoir.

privacy – Do not identify juveniles under the age of 18 who are accused of crime, even if other news media have done so. Do not identify, through text or images, juveniles who have been witnesses to crimes. Do not identify, through text or images, those who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they voluntarily identify themselves. There may be exceptions in extraordinary cases. For imagery guidelines, consult with MCO Outreach Operations staff.

PT boat – Acceptable in all references for patrol torpedo boat, a fast-attack vessel the U.S. Navy used in WWII.