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.


Washington, D.C. – Never abbreviate Washington when referring to the nation's capital. Use Washington, D.C., or District of Columbia when the context requires distinction between the state and federal district. Use periods in D.C. Use DC only in a postal address.

Washington (state) – Specify Washington state or state of Washington (or some variation) on first reference if there is a chance readers could confuse the state with Washington, D.C.

weapons – Contrary to the AP Stylebook, gun is NOT an acceptable term for any firearm. In military parlance, the word gun refers to artillery. Use the specific form: rifle, pistol, mortar, artillery, etc. See the AP Stylebook for treatment and definitions for all other weaponry terms.

web address – If a web address is at the end of a sentence, follow it with a period.

wife, husband – Refer to the MC&FP Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Guide. Use partner or spouse as the preferred wording to keep content inclusive. Use spouse when writing about programs available only to married spouses of service members. When referring to policy, use the official terminology, spouse or marriage, NOT same-sex spouse or same-sex marriage.

with – Capitalize in a heading or title.

women – Women should receive the same treatment as men in all areas of coverage. Do not use sexist references, demeaning stereotypes or condescending phrases. Use the same standards for men and women when deciding to include specific mention of personal appearance or marital and family situation.