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.


Taps – Uppercase without quotation marks for the bugle call sounded for lights out and at military funerals.

TAPS – Is an acronym for the military service organization, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

telephone 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. To add an extension number, use a comma to separate from the main number: 212-621-1234, ext. 53.

territories – The federal government administers these geographic locations, which are not U.S. states. U.S. territories include American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

theater – Lowercase and use this spelling for general uses. Uppercase proper names, using Theatre when applicable: The Globe Theatre, Apollo Theater. Uppercase descriptions of specific theaters of operations, such as the European Theater, but lowercase when using only the word theater.

time element – Use the days of the week and not the generic today or tonight in print copy. Use Monday, Tuesday, etc., before or after the current date. Avoid redundancies such as last Tuesday.

time of day – Use an exact time of day only if it is critical to the story. Use clock time and always use Eastern time followed by EDT or EST. Use time zone abbreviations, EST, CDT, PST, etc., after a clock time if it is likely to affect the readership. Avoid use of the 2400-hour clock (military time); use only when part of a quote. Use lowercase and with periods for a.m., and p.m.

times – Use figures except for noon and midnight: 1 a.m., 10 p.m. Separate hours from minutes with a colon: 11:30 a.m.

time change – In 2021, Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday, March 14, and ends on Sunday, Nov. 7. On Sunday, March 14, at 2 a.m., clocks turn forward one hour to 3 a.m., as daylight saving time (EDT, CDT, MDT, PDT). On Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 a.m., clocks are turned backward one hour to 1 a.m., as local standard time (EST, CST, MST, PST). In 2022, Daylight Saving Time will begin Sunday, March 13, and end Sunday, Nov. 6.

time sequence – Spell out: 20 hours, 50 minutes, 17 seconds.

time zones – Capitalize the full name of the time in place in a particular zone: Eastern Standard Time, Eastern Daylight Time, Central Standard Time, etc. Use lowercase only the region in short forms: the Eastern time zone, Mountain time, etc. The abbreviations EST, EDT, etc., are acceptable on first reference in stories for the continental United States. Spell out when referencing locations outside the contiguous United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

titles – Limit capitalization to formal titles directly before individual names. Lowercase when using after names and in subsequent references: The admiral spoke at the ceremony.

TRICARE – TRICARE is the health care program for 9.5 million service members, retirees and their families around the world. It provides military health benefits and health care support to ensure mission readiness. Do not refer to TRICARE as “health insurance” since it is an entitlement. Instead, say “health benefit.”

troop, troops, troupe – Use sparingly and with caution. Per AP, a troop the singular form means a group of people, often military, or animals. The plural, troops, means several such groups: The troops assembled. When the plural appears with a large number, however, it is understood to mean individuals: 30,000 troops. The more formal service member is preferred. Use troupe when referring to an ensemble of performers.