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.


U-boat – A German submarine. Use submarine unless directly referring to a German vessel of World War I or World War II vintage.

Uncle Sam

undersecretary – One word, lowercase unless preceding a name in a title.

underway – One word in all uses: The Navy’s maneuvers are underway.

Uniform Code of Military Justice – Spell out on first reference, then use UCMJ.

United Service OrganizationUSO is acceptable in all references.

United States – Refers to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Use the abbreviation U.S. in texts and US in headlines.

URL – Acceptable in all references to Uniform Resource Locator. When the URL doesn’t fit on one line, break into two or more lines without a hyphen or other punctuation. In printed or downloaded documents, use the complete URL including https:// or http://. The only exception to this rule is for the Military OneSource website, which can be written any of the following ways for printed or downloaded documents:

  • Upper and lower case letters -
  • All lowercase letters -
  • Without www - or

For printed or downloaded documents, if the URL is overly long or complicated, content creators may use the link shortener

U.S. – The abbreviation is acceptable as a noun or adjective for the United States. Use U.S. in texts and US in headlines

USA – No periods or spaces in the abbreviation for the United States of America.

U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, U.S. Coast Guard - or Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Space Force or Coast Guard. Capitalize in all uses when referring to U.S. forces.

USTRANSCOM – Acceptable for second and subsequent references when referring to the U.S. Transportation Command for internal audiences within DOD. For public facing products and on MC&FP digital properties, refer to the Defense Personal Property Management Office or other appropriate specific resource.

USS – Use USS when it precedes the name of a United States Ship, Steamer or Steamship: the USS Nimitz.