The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage by Paul R. Martin, Paul R. Martin |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage

The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage

by Paul R. Martin, Paul R. Martin

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Here at last is the indispensable resource that has helped the writers and editors of The Wall Street Journal earn a reputation for the most authoritative business writing anywhere. Originally written exclusively for the paper's staff, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage is a landmark work. Many years in preparation, it has now


Here at last is the indispensable resource that has helped the writers and editors of The Wall Street Journal earn a reputation for the most authoritative business writing anywhere. Originally written exclusively for the paper's staff, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage is a landmark work. Many years in preparation, it has now been expanded and revised for anyone who wants to write well, but especially for those in the business community. The only book of its kind, it offers A-Z guidance on style and usage, bearing in mind the special needs of business professionals and including the latest business terminology.

If ABC is no longer the American Broadcasting Company, what is it? What is the difference bet-ween "adjusted gross receipts" and "adjusted gross income"? How about the differences among "adopt," "approve," "enact" and "pass"? When should you say "affect" and when "effect"? When did Generation X end and Generation Y begin? And what the heck is the new name of Andersen Consulting? Our language is ever changing, ever mutating, and the choice of the right word bolsters your credibility with readers. As the go-to resource for these questions and others, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage gives readers a competitive edge for succeeding in the world of business. It is an invaluable resource for any member of the business community who has ever had to write a memo, report, proposal, press release or e-mail.

Destined to be the standard resource for years to come, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Business Style and Usage provides readers with access to the Journal Web site, which will feature updates as new business terms enter the language or as old definitions or usages give way to new. This guide is the definitive reference work to keep close to your desk -- the last word for everyone who works with words.

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AAA The initials have become the formal name of the former American Automobile Association. Second reference may be to the automobile association. It is based in Heathrow, Fla.

a, an

Use a before consonant sounds: a historic event (the aspirated h is a consonant sound), a university (it sounds as if it begins with a yew), a one-year term (it sounds as if it begins with a w).

Use the article an before vowel sounds: an engagement, an hour (the h is silent), an M.B.A. (it sounds as if it begins with an e). Illogical though it may seem, make it an herb, but a herbal tea and a herbicide because the h in herb is silent, but the h in herbal and herbicide is sounded.

AARP Use this in all references to the group that changed its name in 1998 from the American Association of Retired Persons.

abbreviations and acronyms Widely recognized short forms are acceptable in second references, depending on the context. In general, for agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, for example, try to use the bureau or the agency rather than BATF or the like after the first mention, to prevent a cluttered-looking text.

For proper-name acronyms of more than four letters, arbitrarily capitalize only the first letter: Ascap, Awacs, Swapo, Unicef. But unpronounceable abbreviations are uppercase: NAACP.

See organizations and institutions.

Guidance on particular abbreviations and acronyms is provided in individual entries. BEFORE A NAME: Abbreviate certain titles when they are used before a name: Col., Gen., Gov., Lt. Gov., Rep., the Rev., Sen. But Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Dr. (see entries) normally are used with the surname, only after the use of the full name in an article. Form plurals by adding s to the abbreviation: Sens. Max Baucus and Bob Kerrey. See individual listings for commonly used names.

See also cabinet titles; legislative titles; military titles; religious titles.

AFTER A COMPANY NAME: Abbreviate Co., Corp., Inc. and Ltd. after the name of a corporation.

See entries under these words. Also see foreign companies.

WITH DATES OR NUMERALS: Abbreviate A.D., B.C., A.M., P.M., No. and also certain months when they are used with the day of the month: In 45 B.C.; at 8:10 P.M.; bus No.10; Nov. 17.

See months and individual listings.

IN ADDRESSES: Abbreviate Avenue, Boulevard, Road and Street in addresses with numbers: They live on Sunset Avenue -- at 64 Sunset Ave., to be exact.

See addresses.

STATES AND NATIONS: State names of more than five letters are abbreviated when used after cities, except for Alaska and Hawaii. (See state names and individual entries of nations, as some are abbreviated in certain circumstances). U.S., U.K. and U.N. take periods, even in headlines. The U.S. abbreviation is used in most references, including company names.

COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS: Abbreviated second references and acronyms don't take periods: GM, GE, CIA, DAR, FBI, HUD, GOP, UCLA, MIT.

Use the article the before abbreviated agencies, organizations and unions: the DAR, the FCC, the UAW; but don't use the article before acronyms: HUD, NATO. And don't use the article before company names.

AVOID the overuse of abbreviations and acronyms, and don't follow an organization's full name with an abbreviation or acronym in parentheses.

ABC The subsidiary of Walt Disney Co. no longer uses the name American Broadcasting Co. ABC and ABC Television Network may be used in the first reference.



The abbreviations are acceptable in all references to antiballistic missiles, but the term should be defined in the story. Avoid the redundancy ABM missiles.

A-bomb Use atomic bomb unless a direct quotation is involved.

abortion rights (n.) abortion-rights (adj.) This is the preferred term to apply to the movement sometimes referred to as pro-choice.

See antiabortion.




absent without leave
AWOL is acceptable in second references.

academic degrees If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone's credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as: One has a doctorate and the other a master's in psychology. Abbreviations such as B.A., M.A., M.B.A., J.D. and Ph.D. should be used only in stories where the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome. Use these abbreviations only after a full name -- never after just a last name. When in doubt about the proper abbreviation for a degree, follow the first listing in Webster's New World Dictionary. IN HEADLINES: Use the same form, with the periods.

See doctor.

academic departments
Use lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives: the department of history, the history department, the department of English, the English department.

academic titles Capitalize and spell out such formal titles as dean, president, chancellor and chairman when they precede a name. Lowercase elsewhere. But for professor: John Smith, a professor of history; the professor, Prof. Smith, Mr. Smith. See titles.

academy See military academies.

Academy Awards
The awards, also known as the Oscars, are presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Lowercase the academy and the awards when they stand alone.

Accenture It became the new name for Andersen Consulting after its split from Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm.

accept, except

Accept means to receive.

ExcAcceptept means to exclude.

access As a verb, confine it to the technological sense: He accessed the files in a database. You may access your cash at an ATM.


accounting firms
The Big Five are PricewaterhouseCoopers; Andersen Worldwide (parent of Arthur Andersen); Ernst & Young; KPMG LLP and Deloitte & Touche.

accounts payable They are the current liabilities or debts of a business that must be paid soon, usually within a year.

accounts receivable They are the amounts due to a company for merchandise or services sold on credit. These are considered short-term assets.

accused To avoid implying the guilt of someone merely charged with a crime, don't use constructions such as accused arsonist.

An individual is accused of, not with, a crime.

See allege.

Achilles' heel
The unusual possessive style applies to classical names.


It usually takes plural verbs and pronouns: The acoustics were not at their best.

Use singular verbs and pronouns when referring to the study: Acoustics is an exact science.

acre Equal to 43,560 square feet, or 4,840 square yards. The metric equivalent is 0.4 (two-fifths) hectare, or 4,047 square meters.

To convert to hectares, multiply by 0.4 (5 acres x 0.4 equals 2 hectares).


See abbreviations and acronyms.

act Capitalize when part of the name for pending or implemented legislation: the Taft-Hartley Act.

acting Always lowercase, but capitalize any formal title that may follow before a name: acting Mayor Peter Barry.

See titles.

actor, actress

Actors' Equity Association
The apostrophe is in the union's formal name.

A.D. The abbreviation is acceptable in all references for anno Domini: in the year of the Lord. Place A.D. before the year: The town was founded in A.D. 96.

Don't write: The fourth century A.D. The fourth century is sufficient. If A.D. is not specified with a year, the year is presumed to be A.D.

See B.C.

addresses Use Ave., Blvd., Rd. and St. only with a numbered address: 64 Sunset Ave. Spell them out and capitalize them when they are of a street name without a number: Sunset Avenue. Lowercase and spell out when they are used alone or with more than one street name: Sunset and Sunrise avenues.

Similar words (alley, square, terrace) are spelled out, even with numbers. Capitalize them when they are part of a name without a number; lowercase when used alone or with two or more names.

Always use figures for an address number: 7 Vine St.

Spell out and capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names; use figures with two letters for streets 10th and above: 6 Seventh Ave., 66 32nd St.

adjusted gross income It consists of an individual's gross income from taxable sources, minus certain items such as payments to a deductible individual retirement account. Adjusted gross income minus deductions and personal exemptions equals taxable income.

adjusted gross receipts In the gambling industry, this is a casino's measure of revenue. Adjusted gross receipts divided by total admissions are considered a casino's win per person.

ad lib

Lowercase: the administration, the president's administration, the governor's administration, the Bush administration.

administrative law judge This is the federal title for the position formerly known as hearing examiner. Capitalize it when used as a formal title before a name.

To avoid the long title, seek a construction that sets the title off by commas: The administrative law judge, John Williams, disagreed. On subsequent references, Mr. Williams -- not Judge Williams.

Hearing officer (not judge) is a short form for headlines and other references.

administrator Never abbreviate. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name.


See military titles.


admit, admitted
These words may in some contexts give the erroneous connotation of wrongdoing. A person who announces he is a homosexual, for example, may be proclaiming it to the world, not admitting it. Said is usually sufficient. In other contexts: He conceded he was wrong.

adopt, approve, enact, pass

Amendments, ordinances, resolutions and rules are adopted or approved.

Bills are passed.

Laws are enacted.

adoption The adoptive status of a child or his or her parents should be mentioned only when its relevance is made clear. Use the term biological parents to refer to the nonadoptive parents.

Adrenalin It is a trademark for the synthetic or chemically extracted forms of epinephrine, a substance produced by the adrenal glands. The nonproprietary terms are epinephrine hydrochloride or adrenaline. Also: His adrenaline was flowing.

adverse (adj.), averse (adv.) Adverse means unfavorable, and averse means unwilling or reluctant. They were averse to making the trip because they expected adverse weather.

adviser, advisory

Aer Lingus
The Irish national airline.

Aeroflot The airline's headquarters is Moscow.

AeroMexico The short form for Aerovias de Mexico is acceptable in all references.

aesthetic Not esthetic.

affect, effect

Affect normally is a verb. It means to have an influence on something: The game will affect the standings.

Effect is used most often as a noun meaning result or influence: The effect was overwhelming. The death had a great effect on him. He miscalculated the effect of his actions.

When used as a verb, effect means to bring something about: She effected many changes in the company.

affiliate It normally is a company whose voting stock is less than 50% owned by another company. In general usage, affiliation can be applied to any intercompany relationship short of a parent-subsidiary relationship. Don't call an affiliate a unit.

afloat In international trade, prices are often quoted and trades completed for commodities that are said to be afloat between origin country and destination port.

AFL-CIO Preferred in all references for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.


Pertaining to Africa and its people. Do not use it as a synonym for black. In some parts of Africa, the word colored is applied to those of mixed white and black ancestry. Elsewhere, the term is considered derogatory, so avoid the usage or put the term in quotation marks and explain it.

African-American (n. and adj.) It is an acceptable alternative term applying to U.S. blacks. Always hyphenated: an African-American; an African-American teenager.

African, Caribbean and Pacific The so-called ACP regions receive special dispensation from import duties on certain products entering the European Union.

Afrikaans, Afrikaner

Afrikaans is an official language of South Africa.

An Afrikaner is a South African of certain European ancestry, especially Dutch.

after- No hyphen after this prefix when it is used to form a noun: aftereffect, afterthought. Follow after with a hyphen when it is used to form compound modifiers: after-dinner drink, after-theater snack.

after-hours trading The rise of electronic communications networks, or ECNs, has changed the market once called the third market, to distinguish it from the major exchanges and the regional exchanges. Nasdaq now incorporates ECNs in its linkage to the other markets, calling the system the Nasdaq InterMarket. Late-day trades are also made on the Instinet and the Chicago Stock Exchange, for example, so all transactions after the 4 P.M. listings for New York Stock Exchange composite trading are referred to as after-hours trading.

The Journal's statistics department issues an after-hours snapshot on our intranet after 6:30 P.M. Until that hour, when an after-hours stock quote is needed for an article, get it from Instinet, and cite Instinet as the source. But update this for later editions with our intranet quote, without the need to mention the source. For example: Intel rose to $132.68 in after-hours trading.

See stock prices.

afterward Not afterwards.

Aftra It is acceptable on second reference for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

AG The designation follows many German, Austrian and Swiss company names. It indicates the company has shareholders.

against actuals In the London markets for cocoa and coffee futures, against actuals represent straightforward trades of futures positions against physical positions. They have no impact on prices.

Agana The capital of Guam has been renamed Hagatna.

Agency for International Development AID is acceptable on second reference.

agency shop

See closed shop.

A list. It takes singular verbs and pronouns: The agenda has run its course. The plural is agendas.

agent Usually not a formal title: FBI agent William Smith.

See titles.

ages Use figures for ages of people, and normally use years old only with the first age provided in each story: Eric Martin, 29 years old; Graham Goble, 4, and Tess Langan, 9 months. Also: The 4-year-old James Goble; 35-year-old Eric Martin appears to be in his 20s (no apostrophe). The defendant is a 25-year-old. But: a two-year-old law. Ages should be included in stories of executive changes but aren't necessary in Who's News column briefs that involve directors or executives below the level of chief executive, chairman or president.

aggravate It means make worse. Don't use it to mean irritate.

A-head The term is used in-house at The Wall Street Journal to refer to the page-one, column-four article or articles inside the paper with the same type of headline.

ahold Avoid the word, which is a regionalism at best. One may, however, get a hold on something or get hold of someone.

aid, aide

Aid is assistance.

An aide is a person who serves as an assistant.

aide-de-camp, aides-de-camp A military officer who serves as assistant and confidential secretary to a superior.

AIDS The acronym is acceptable in all references to the disease acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

AIDS is the end stage of HIV (human immune deficiency virus) infections that compromise immune systems and leave infected people vulnerable to infectious diseases and certain cancers.

AIDS is distinguished from "congenital" or "combined" immune deficiency syndrome, which is present at birth.

HIV is spread by sexual contact, transfusions of contaminated blood, contaminated hypodermic needles or syringes, and by women passing the virus to their offspring. Distinction should be made between AIDS, the disease, and HIV, the virus. People infected with HIV, described as being HIV-positive, can remain healthy for years. Only after they develop serious symptoms should they be described as having AIDS.

See HIV.

ain't Use the substandard contraction only in quoted matter or for special effect.

air It means to ventilate a space or to voice grievances.

As it is used in broadcasting, it is jargon and best avoided, though the passive voice is less jarring: The show will be aired soon. But better: The show will be shown soon.

air bag

air base
Two words. Follow the practice of the U.S. Air Force, which uses Air Force Base as part of the proper name for its bases in the U.S. and Air Base for its installations abroad. On second reference: the Air Force base, the air base, or the base.

Airbus Industrie It is based in Toulouse, France.

Air Canada

air-condition, air-conditioned
(v. and adj.), air conditioner, air conditioning (n.)

aircraft names Use a hyphen, generally, when changing from letters to figures and no hyphen when adding a letter after figures.

Some examples: B-1, BAC-111, C-5A, DC-10, FH-227, F-15 Eagle, F111, L-1011, MiG-21, 727-100C, 747, 747B, VC-10. Airbus models are an exception: Airbus A300 and A320. Some jet planes in commercial use: the BAC-111; Boeing 727, 737, 747, 777; the Convair 880; the DC-8, DC-9 and DC-10, and the L-1011.

Do not use quotation marks for aircraft with names: Air Force One, the Concorde, the Enola Gay, the F-22 Raptor.

For plurals: DC-10s, 727s, 747B's. (The apostrophe is used to denote the plurals of single letters.)

See plurals.

Use Arabic figures, without hyphens, for numbered spacecraft and missiles: Apollo 10.


air force
Capitalize it when referring to U.S. forces: the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force, Air Force regulations. Do not use the abbreviation USAF.

Use lowercase for the forces of other nations: the Israeli air force.

See military academies; military titles.

air force base

See air base.

Air Force One
The name applies to any Air Force aircraft the president uses. The vice president uses Air Force Two.

Air France

airlines, air lines, airways
Capitalize airlines, air lines and airways when they are used as part of a proper airline name. Major airlines are listed separately by name.

Companies that use airlines include Alaska, American, America West, Continental, Hawaiian, Japan (it uses the abbreviation JAL nevertheless), Northwest, Saudi Arabian, Southwest, Trans World and United.

Companies that use air lines include Delta and Iberia.

Companies that use airways include All Nippon, British, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Thai International, US Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Companies that use none of these include Aer Lingus, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air France, Air India, Alitalia, Iberia, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Swissair and Scandinavian Airlines System.

On second reference for any of these, use the airline, the carrier or such short forms as SAS, TWA or JAL. For US Airways, the second reference is US Air.

Never use Inc., Co. or Corp. with airline names.


See military titles.

Air National Guard

Capitalize as part of a proper name: La Guardia Airport, Newark International Airport. The first name of an individual and the word international may be deleted from a formal airport name while the rest is capitalized: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Kennedy International Airport or Kennedy Airport.

Don't make up names, however. There is no Boston Airport, for example. The Boston airport would be acceptable if for some reason the proper name, Logan International Airport, was not used.


See airlines, air lines, airways

Abbreviate as Ala. after city names. Residents are Alabamans.

See state names.

a la carte

a la king, a la mode

Don't abbreviate it. The state has the largest land area of the 50 states. Residents are Alaskans.

See state names.

Alaska Standard Time, Alaska Daylight Time It applies in most of Alaska. The western Aleutians and St. Lawrence Island are on Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time.

See time zones.

Alberta A province of western Canada. Don't abbreviate.

See datelines.

albino, albinos

Alcan Aluminium Ltd.
The Canadian company uses the British spelling, aluminium. Its U.S. subsidiary is Alcan Aluminum Corp.

Alcoa Inc. It formerly was Aluminum Co. of America.

alcoholic Use recovering, not reformed, in referring to those who have been afflicted with the disease of alcoholism.

Al Fatah A Palestinian guerrilla organization. Drop the article Al if preceded by an English article: the Fatah leader.

alibi A legal term used in a claim that an accused was not at the scene of a crime. Do not use it to mean an excuse.

alien Use the word carefully to apply to an immigrant or foreigner. For those entering illegally, the term illegal immigrant is preferred.

alkylate This high-quality gasoline component is made by combining isobutane and propylene or butylene.

all- All-clear, all-out, all-star.

All-America, All-American An All-American, but an All-America player.

allege, alleged Use the words with care, and consider alternatives such as apparent, suggested, reputed and ostensible.

-- Specify where an allegation comes from. In a criminal case, it should be an arrest record, an indictment or the statement of a public official connected with the case. In a civil case, it should come from court records or lawyers connected with the case.

-- If you use alleged conspiracy or the like to make clear that an unproven action isn't being considered as fact, be sure that the source of the charge is specified in the story.

-- Avoid unnecessary use of alleged, as in: The police chief accused him of participating in an alleged conspiracy.

-- Don't refer to an alleged event when it is someone's participation in the event that is at issue. He allegedly attended the meeting. Not: He attended the alleged meeting.

Alleghany Corp. The financial-services company is based in New York.

Allegheny Technologies Inc. It is based in Pittsburgh. Its Allegheny Ludlum Corp. subsidiary makes stainless steel.

Allegheny Mountains Or simply: the Alleghenies.

allies, allied Capitalize allies or allied only when referring to the combination of the U.S. and its allies during World War I or World War II: The Allies defeated Germany. He was in the Allied invasion of France. The allies won the Persian Gulf War.

allot, allotted, allotting

Avoid word in favor of permissible in such constructions as permissible oil production.

alloy steel This steel, formed by combining iron with one or more elements in addition to carbon, is harder and more malleable.

all right (adv.) Don't use alright. Hyphenate only if used colloquially as an adjective: He is an all-right guy.

all-round Not all-around: He was an all-round athlete, with varsity letters in three sports.

all-time Avoid this in constructions such as all-time record. It is superfluous -- and transitory. In stock-market columns, when it is necessary to distinguish a record level from a 52-week high for an issue, use phraseology such as highest level ever or highest closing on record.

allude, refer

To allude to something is to speak of it without direct mention.

To refer is to mention it directly.

allusion, illusion

Allusion means an indirect reference: The allusion was to his opponent's war record.

Illusion means an unreal or false impression: The scenic director created the illusion of choppy seas.

alpha testing It refers to the testing of the alpha version of new software products. This first stage of testing is carried out by the manufacturer.

See beta testing and gamma testing.

alma mater

almost never
Use seldom or hardly ever instead.

also-ran (n.)

altar (n.), alter (v.)

An altar is a church platform.

To alter is to change.

alternate, alternative Because alternate can mean every second one (The club meets on alternate Tuesdays), generally use alternative to mean substitute: Mutual funds are an alternative to stocks. The noun alternative once meant a choice between two but now can mean a choice among more than two.

aluminum The metal obtained from bauxite is used in construction, heavy industry and consumer products, such as beverage cans. After copper, it is the most actively traded metal on the London Metal Exchange. Don't use the British spelling aluminium except in a proper name.

alumnus, alumna, alumni, alumnae An alumnus is a male graduate. The plural is alumni. An alumna is a female graduate. The plural is alumnae.

Use alumni when referring to a group of men and women graduates.

AM Acceptable in all references for amplitude modulation.

A.M. Use only with a numeral: 10 A.M. Avoid redundant phrases such as 10 A.M. that morning. Lowercase in headlines. Inc. The online retailer is based in Seattle.

ambassador Use for both men and women. Capitalize only as a formal title before a name.

See titles.

ambassador-at-large, ambassador extraordinary, ambassador plenipotentiary

amendments to the Constitution
Use First Amendment, 10th Amendment, etc. Lowercase generic descriptions such as women's-rights amendment. Define what the amendment provides.

(-)American Hyphenate references to foreign heritage, both as nouns and adjectives: She is an Asian-American; she is of Asian-American heritage. Also: Italian-American, Irish-American, German-American, African-American.

American The term is commonly used in reference to a resident of the U.S. It may also be applied to residents elsewhere in North and South America. Adjectivally, it is usually preferable to use U.S.: U.S. foreign policy; U.S. citizens.

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

See Baptist churches.

American Civil Liberties Union ACLU is acceptable on second reference.

American depositary receipt It is a receipt for a security that physically remains in a foreign country, usually in the custody of a bank there. ADR (plural: ADRs) on second reference.

American Express Co. AmEx is acceptable for second references in articles. Use it sparingly in headlines to avoid confusion with Amex, for the American Stock Exchange.

Based in New York, American Express provides travel-related, financial-advisory and international-banking services.

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations AFL-CIO is preferred in all references.

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists AFTRA is acceptable on second reference.

American Indian Or use Indian alone if the context avoids confusion with residents of India. If possible in reference to American Indians, use the tribe's name: an Iroquois man, a Sioux reservation.

Native American is acceptable in quotations and names of organizations.

Words such as wampum, warpath, powwow, tepee, brave and squaw can be offensive. Avoid them if any disparagement may be inferred.

Americanisms Many words peculiar to the English spoken in the U.S. are marked with a star in Webster's New World Dictionary. Most of these words are generally acceptable, but the context should be the guide as to when their use is appropriate.

American League (baseball)

American Legion Capitalize also the Legion in second reference. Members are Legionnaires. Legion and Legionnaires are capitalized because they aren't being used in their common-noun sense. A legion, lowercase, is a large group of soldiers or any large number: His friends are legion.

See fraternal organizations and service clubs.

American Medical Association AMA is acceptable on second reference. Also: the medical association, the association.

American Petroleum Institute It is the U.S. oil industry's main lobbying group, which publishes oil inventory data every Tuesday.

API also denotes a system to measure the weight of crude oils. A lower API number means a heavier grade of crude.

See also gravity.

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ASCAP is acceptable in second reference.

American Stock Exchange In second reference, the American Exchange, the Amex, the exchange. In combination with others: The New York and American stock exchanges, or the New York and American exchanges.

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. AT&T Corp. now is the formal name.

American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam Amvets is acceptable in all references.

Americas Cup (golf), America's Cup (yachting)


See American Stock Exchange. Avoid Amex as a reference to American Express Co., though AirEx is sometimes used.

amid Not amidst.


(n. and adj.) The evangelical Christian group split from the Mennonites in the 17th century. The members favor plain dress and shun technology. Their congregational leaders are called bishops.


See weapons.


See pardon, parole, probation.

Amoco Corp.


Not amuck.

among Not amongst.

amortization It is the allocating of the value of intangible assets (such as patents, royalty agreements and goodwill) over the period of their existence. See depreciation.

ampersand (&) Always use the ampersand in names of companies, partnerships, businesses and stores, even if they prefer and. Also use the ampersand for such foreign forms as German und and French et. An exception: If a company uses the abbreviation to differentiate between a parent and subsidiary: X&Y Co. (parent); X and Y Co. (subsidiary). But use and in names of unions, government agencies and other organizations.

The ampersand shouldn't otherwise be used in place of and except for special effect in feature headlines.

amplitude modulation AM is acceptable in all references.

A.M., P.M. Avoid redundancies such as 10 A.M. this morning. Lowercase A.M. and P.M. in headlines too.

Amsterdam The Dutch city stands alone in datelines.

Amsterdam Stock Exchange

See Euronext.

This acronym, drawn from the words American travel by track, may be used in all references to National Railroad Passenger Corp.

The corporation was established by Congress in 1970 to take over intercity passenger operations from those railroads that wanted to drop passenger service. Amtrak contracts with railroads for the use of their track and of certain other operating equipment and crews on routes where it offers passenger service. Amtrak is subsidized in part by federal funds appropriated by Congress and administered through the Department of Transportation. Amtrak is required to operate without federal subsidies by 2003 or face possible restructuring or liquidation. But it will continue to need government capital funds.

Andersen Worldwide Based in Geneva, it is the parent of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm. It was ordered in 2000 to divest itself of its consulting affiliate, Andersen Consulting, which was renamed Accenture.

anemia, anemic

A drug or gas used to create anesthesia.

Anglican Communion In this association of 22 national Anglican churches, each national church is autonomous. But a special position of honor is accorded to the archbishop of Canterbury as head of the original Anglican body, the Church of England. The main division between Roman Catholics and Anglicans (or Episcopalians in the U.S.) is the dispute that led to the formation of the Church of England -- the refusal to acknowledge the authority of the pope over the bishops.

Members of the Anglican Communion include the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and, in the U.S., the Protestant Episcopal Church.

See Episcopal Church.

It may be used as a counterpart of Latino, particularly in the context of the Southwest, but white is generally preferable.

Anglo- It is always capitalized. Don't use a hyphen if what follows is in lowercase:

Anglomania Anglophobe

Use a hyphen if a following word is capitalized:

Anglo-American Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Catholic Anglo-Saxon

angry One can be angry at someone or with someone.

angst Lowercase the noun meaning anxiety, although it is capitalized in German.

an herb, a herbal tea Illogical though it may seem, the h in herb is silent, but the h in herbal is sounded.

animals Apply a personal pronoun to an animal only if its sex has been established or it has a name: The dog was frightened; it barked. Spot was frightened; he barked. The cat, which was frightened, ran away. Lady the cat, who was frightened, ran away. The bull lowers his head.

Capitalize the name of a specific animal, and use Roman numerals to show sequence: Rover, Secretariat II.

For breed names, follow the spelling and capitalization in Webster's New World Dictionary. For breeds not listed in the dictionary, capitalize words adopted or derived from proper nouns; use lowercase elsewhere: basset hound, Boston terrier.

Annapolis An acceptable alternative reference for the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

See military academies.

anno Domini
See A.D.

annual meeting
Lowercase it in all uses.

annuity A contract sold by life insurance companies guaranteeing a future payment to the investor, usually starting at retirement. With a fixed annuity, the payments are in regular installments. With a variable annuity, the payments depend on the value of the underlying investments.


anonymous sources

See sources.

Another is not a synonym for an additional. If you are going to have another five complaints, you must have had the same number of complaints already: Ten women passed, another 10 failed. But: Ten women passed, six others failed.

antarctic, Antarctica

Solid: antebellum, antedate.


See composition titles. Lowercase the term national anthem.

anti- The rules in prefixes apply. Words are unhyphenated (antibias, antiballistic missile) except for those in which the i is doubled (anti-intellectual) and those in which the base word itself is capitalized (anti-American, anti-Semitic).

antiabortion This is the preferred term to apply to the movement sometimes referred to as pro-life.

See abortion rights.

anticipate It means to expect something and prepare for it, not simply expect something.

antimony The minor metal is used in the manufacture of the fire retardants, plastics and to harden lead.

antitrust It is applied to any law or policy designed to encourage competition by curtailing monopolistic power and unfair business practices.

anxious, eager

Anxious means worried.

Eager means enthusiastic.

anybody, any body, anyone, any one Use the one-word version for an indefinite reference; two words to stress individual elements: Anyone can do it. Any one of them can do it.

anyplace, any place

Anyplace is substandard.

Any place means any location; it shouldn't be used in place of the adverb anywhere.


AOL Time Warner Inc.
The media and Internet company is based in New York.

AP The initials are used in logotypes and are acceptable in second references for the Associated Press.


See Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation.

See American Petroleum Institute.

apostrophe (')

Use apostrophes for omitted numerals: class of '62, the '20s. But 1974-76. For plurals of a single letter: A's and B's, Oakland A's.

Don't use apostrophes in these contexts: in his 70s; in the 1970s.

See possessives.

Apple Computer Inc.
It is based in Cupertino, Calif.

appraise, apprise One appraises a diamond, but one apprises another of his appraisal.

approbation, opprobrium

Approbation means praise.

Opprobrium means disapproval.

Arabic terms in place names They include: Ain (spring), Bab (gate), Bahr (sea, lake and sometimes river), Bir (well), Birket (pond), Burj (tower), Dahr (mountaintop), Dar (abode of), Deir (monastery), Jebel (mountain), Jisr (bridge), Kafr (hamlet), Khan (caravansary), Marj (meadow), Nahr (river), Naqb (pass), Qasr or Kasr (castle), Ras (promontory, cape), Suq (market), Tell (hill), Wadi (dry riverbed, ravine).

Arab names In general, use an established English spelling or one preferred by the individual. Many Arabs incorporate the article al- or el- in English when their full names are used: Osama el-Baz. But drop the article on subsequent references: Mr. Baz. Many others drop the article from their names in English: Moammar Gadhafi, Col. Gadhafi.

Ibn, ben or bin, meaning "son of," is sometimes part of a name: Osama bin Laden. He is Mr. bin Laden in subsequent references, but some drop the "son of" equivalent: Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah; Mr. Attiyah.

The titles king, emir, sheik and imam are used, but prince usually replaces emir. Some Arabs are known only by the title and a given name on first reference: King Abdullah of Jordan. Others use a complete name on first reference: Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, with the later references Sheik Zayed.

arabica This type of coffee bean, grown at a higher altitude than robusta, mostly in Colombia and other South American countries, is used in specialty coffees.

See robusta.

arbitrage, arbitrager Arbitrage is a technique of buying and selling securities to take advantage of small differences in price -- e.g., buying a stock at $50 on one exchange and simultaneously selling it or an equivalent at $51 on another. One who uses this technique is an arbitrager. The short form arb is acceptable after the first reference.

Takeover-stock speculators also are commonly called arbitragers or arbs. They buy stocks in companies that are rumored or reported to be takeover targets, hoping to reap profits when the transactions are completed. This meaning has largely supplanted the earlier meaning. These arbitragers formerly were called risk arbitragers.

arbitrate, mediate Both terms are used in reports about labor negotiations, but they should not be interchanged.

An arbitrator hears evidence from all persons concerned, then hands down a binding decision on the issues raised. Thus binding arbitration is redundant.

A mediator listens to arguments of both parties and tries by the exercise of reason or persuasion to bring them to an agreement.

arch- The rules in prefixes apply. No hyphen after this prefix unless it precedes a capitalized word:

archbishop arch-Republican
archenemy archrival

archaeology Not archeology.


See Episcopal Church; Roman Catholic Church; and religious titles.

archbishop of Canterbury
Lowercase archbishop unless used before the name of the individual who holds the office.

archdiocese Capitalize it as part of a proper name: the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Archdiocese. Lowercase it whenever it stands alone.


arctic, Arctic Circle, arctic fox, Arctic Ocean

(n.) The are is a unit of surface measure in the metric system, equal to 100 square meters. It is equal to about 1,076.4 square feet, or 119.6 square yards.

See hectare and metric system.

area codes
See telephone numbers.

Argentine Use this rather than Argentinian to refer to the people of Argentina.

Arizona Abbreviate as Ariz. after city names. Residents are Arizonans.

See state names.

Arkansas Abbreviate as Ark. after city names. Residents are Arkansans.

See state names.

See Commonwealth of Independent States.

Armenian Church of America It includes the Eastern Diocese and, in California alone, the Western Diocese.

See Eastern Orthodox churches.

Armistice Day
It is now Veterans Day.

army Capitalize it when it refers to U.S. forces: the U.S. Army, the Army, Army regulations. Do not use the abbreviation USA. Use lowercase for the forces of other nations: the French army.

See military academies and military titles.

aromatics This high-octane class of petrochemicals, including benzene, toluene and xylene, is used in making petrochemicals and premium grades of gasoline.

arrive Do not omit a preposition, as airline dispatchers often do: The flight will arrive (at) Newark.

arsenic The minor metal is used in chemicals, lead-based alloys, electronics, semiconductors and poisons.

Art Deco Capitalize references to the art and architecture style of the 1920s and 1930s.

Arthur Andersen

See accounting firms and Andersen Worldwide.

This term is preferred to apply to pieces appearing in the newspaper. To the layman, a story is more appropriately a work of fiction.


See weapons.

Art Nouveau
Capitalize references to the decorative style of the early 20th century.

artworks See composition titles.

See like, as.

ashcan, ashtray

The formal name of the union is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. The full name should be included in articles that focus on the union.

Asean See Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
Leaders of the trade forum of 20 Pacific Rim nations meet annually. Members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.


Asian, Asiatic
Use Asian or Asians when referring to people. Some Asians regard Asiatic as offensive when applied to people.

Asian Development Bank Based in Manila, it provides loans and grants to promote economic and social programs of its developing member nations. Its capital stock is the property of 57 members, including 16 from outside the region. Japan and the U.S. are its biggest shareholders.

Asian flu

Asian geographic terms

-- East Asia is preferable to Far East, which is less precise. East Asia refers to the countries along Asia's eastern seaboard.

-- Australasia refers to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

-- Asia Minor refers to the peninsula in western Asia between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, including the Asian portion of Turkey.

-- Indochina refers to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

-- South Asia refers to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives.

-- Southeast Asia refers to Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

-- Pacific Basin and Pacific Rim are synonyms, referring to countries and islands bordering the Pacific Ocean in Asia, Australia and the Americas and Russia.

Asian subcontinent It encompasses Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sikkim and Sri Lanka.

See Far East; Middle East; Southeast Asia.

Asian Wall Street Journal, The
Capitalize The in the name.

as if Use as if (or as though), rather than like, when introducing a clause: The company spent money as if there were no tomorrow.

asphalt Use asphalt rather than bitumen to describe the bottom-of-barrel refined petroleum product used for paving road surfaces.

assassination, date of A public figure is shot one day and dies the next. Which day was he assassinated? The day he was attacked.

assassin, killer, murderer

An assassin is a politically motivated killer or the killer of a prominent person.

A killer is anyone who kills.

A murderer is one who is convicted of murder in a court of law.

See execute and homicide, murder, manslaughter.

assault, battery In legal terms, an assault is an unlawful threat or unsuccessful attempt to harm someone physically.

Assault and battery is the term when the threat is carried out.

assembly Capitalize it when it is part of the proper name for the lower house of a legislature: the California Assembly. Retain capitalization if the state name is dropped but the reference is specific: SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The state Assembly...

And later in the story: The Assembly...

If a legislature is known as a general assembly, use: the Missouri General Assembly, the General Assembly, the assembly. Legislature may also be used as the proper name, however.

See legislature.

Lowercase all plural uses: the California and New York assemblies.

assemblyman, assemblywoman

See legislative titles.

asset-backed securities
The securities are backed by collateral such as credit-card receivables or auto loans.

assets Everything a company or individual owns or is owed.

Assets may be categorized further as:

-- Current assets: cash, investments, money due to a corporation, unused raw materials and inventories of finished but unsold products.

-- Fixed assets: buildings, machinery and land.

-- Intangible assets: patents and goodwill.

See goodwill.

Don't abbreviate. Capitalize only when part of a formal title before a name: Assistant Secretary of State George Ball. Wherever practical, however, an appositional construction should be used: George Ball, assistant secretary of state.

See titles.

Never abbreviate. Apply the same capitalization norms listed under assistant.

Associated Press AP may be used in second references.

The address is 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020.

association Don't abbreviate. Capitalize as part of a proper name: American Medical Association.

Association of Coffee Producing Countries The London-based organization of producing countries sets export quotas.

assure See ensure, insure, assure.

astronaut It isn't a formal title. Don't capitalize when used before a name: astronaut John Glenn.

AstroTurf A trademark for a type of artificial grass.

AT&T Corp. The company, based in New York, no longer uses the longer name.

athlete's foot, athlete's heart

athletic teams
Capitalize teams, associations and recognized nicknames: the Red Sox, the Big Ten, the A's, the Colts.

Atlanta The city in Georgia stands alone in datelines.

Atlantic Ocean See oceans.

Atlantic Richfield Co. It was merged into BP PLC, of Britain.

Atlantic Standard Time, Atlantic Daylight Time Used in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and in Puerto Rico.

See time zones.

at-large Hyphenate combinations such as ambassador-at-large, delegate-at-large.

ATM It stands for automated teller machine. Avoid the redundancy ATM machine.

Atomic Age It began Dec. 2, 1942, with the creation of the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.

Atomic Energy Commission It no longer exists.

See Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

attache It is not a formal title. Always lowercase.

attorney general, attorneys general Never abbreviate. Capitalize only when used as a title before a name: Attorney General John Ashcroft.

attorney, lawyer In common usage the words are interchangeable, but lawyer is the more appropriate term for referring to an attorney at law.

Technically, an attorney is someone (usually, but not necessarily, a lawyer) empowered to act for another. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney in fact. A lawyer is a person admitted to practice in a court system. Such an individual occasionally is called an attorney at law.

Do not abbreviate. Do not capitalize unless it is an officeholder's title before a name: defense attorney Julia Martin, attorney Julia Martin, District Attorney Greg Langan, U.S. Attorney Bruce Ohr.

See lawyer.

auger, augur

An auger is a boring tool.

Augur is usually used as a verb meaning to foreshadow, but it is also a noun for a fortuneteller.


See months.

author It is a noun, used for both men and women. Don't use it as a verb.

auto maker, auto makers


See pistol and weapons.

automobiles Capitalize brand names: Buick, Ford, Mustang, MG, Impala. Lowercase generic terms: a Volkswagen van, a Mack truck.

auto worker, auto workers Many are members of the United Auto Workers union.


See seasons.

(n. and adj.), avant-gardism, avant-gardist


See addresses.

average, mean, median, mode, norm

Average may be used to refer to mean, but for clarity, don't use it as a synonym for median, mode or norm.

Mean is calculated by adding up the observations involved and then dividing by the number of observations. The mean of 1, 3, 3 and 9 would be 4. The mean, also called the arithmetic average, can be the median and mode as well, as in this example: 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

Median is found by arranging the numbers from highest to lowest and then taking the middle one. The median of 1, 3, 3, 4 and 9 would be 3). Median is especially useful when a set of numbers is skewed by a few numbers that range much higher than the rest. For instance, thanks to a small number of very rich people, the mean wealth in the U.S. is much higher than the median.

Mode is the number that occurs most often in a grouping of numbers. In the set of numbers 1, 1, 3, 3, 3 and 9, 3 is the mode. You might use this method to calculate the numbers who retire at a given age, with the largest groupings probably occurring at age 65.

Norm implies a standard of average performance for a given group: The child was below the norm for her age in reading comprehension.

average of The phrase takes a plural verb in constructions such as: An average of 100 new jobs are created daily.

averse See adverse, averse.

Avianca It is the Colombian national airline.

aviator Use for both men and women.

Awacs It stands for airborne warning and control system.

awards and decorations Capitalize them: Bronze Star, Medal of Honor.

See Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize.


awhile, a while

He plans to stay awhile.

He plans to stay for a while.

AWOL Acceptable in all references for absent without leave.

ax Not axe.

Axis The alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II.

Copyright © 2002 by Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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