Saturday, April 30, 2016

Writing Military-Speak

I really could have used this when I was working on The Death Row Complex. Here you have it, the U.S. Navy Style Guide from

U.S. Navy Style Guide
Navy editors and writers should follow the most recent edition of the Associated Press Stylebook except as noted in this U.S. Navy Style Guide
"A" school - Use double quotes throughout a story. If included in a quote, use single quotes: 'A' school.
abbreviations, acronyms - Upper case abbreviations even if they are not true acronyms, like NATO. Also, spell out in first reference.

The individual augmentees (IAs) met May 5. All Sailors reporting to IA duty are invited to attend.

Other examples:
BUMED - Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
CIWS - close-in weapons system
CNO - Chief of Naval Operations
OPTEMPO - Operations Tempo or Tempo of Operations
OCONUS - Outside Continental United States
RHIB - rigid hull inflatable boat
SECNAV - Secretary of the Navy
aboard vs. on board - These two terms mean nearly the same thing and in some uses are interchangeable. "Aboard" is the preferred usage. Use "on board" as two words, but hyphenate on board when used as an adjective. "Aboard" means on board, on, in or into a ship.

The crew is aboard the ship.
An on-board medical team uses the on-board computer.

BUT NOT: The Sailor is going on board the ship.

Also, a Sailor is stationed "on," "at," "is serving with" or "is assigned to" a ship. A Sailor does not serve "in" a ship.

A ship is "based at" or "homeported at" a specific place. A plane is "stationed at" or is "aboard" a ship; is "deployed with" or is "operating from" a ship. Squadrons are "stationed at" air stations. Air wings are "deployed with" ships. 
accept, except - "accept" means to receive and "except" means to exclude
active duty (noun), active-duty (adjective) - Lower case on all references.

As a noun, two words: Navy personnel serve on active duty.

As an adjective, hyphenate: All active-duty personnel must participate.
affect, effect - See AP Stylebook
air wing - Use as two words.
aircraft - acceptable characterization of naval aviation platforms. Do not refer to military aircraft as "airplanes" or "planes."
aircraft designations - Always used as a letter(s) followed by a hyphen and number: SH-60B.

Note: For print publications, aircraft name (e.g. Tomcat, Hornet, etc.) should be italicized. For News Service story submissions, use regular text (e.g. Tomcat, Hornet, etc.)
aircraft squadrons - Spell out full name of squadron on first reference. On second reference, use abbreviation and hyphenate.

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). During their deployment, VFA-97 maintained a perfect safety record.
aircrew, aircrew member - Per Webster's one or two words. 
all hands, all-hands - Two words as noun: He call all hands to the meeting. Hyphenate as adjective/compound modifier: They attended the all-hands call.
Anchors Aweigh - not Anchors Away
anti-aircraft, anti-submarine - Hyphenate
Arabian Gulf - use instead of Persian Gulf
armed forces - Capitalize only as a proper name (Armed Forces Day), not as a noun (the armed forces) or adjective (an armed-forces member). Lower case unless part of a title or when preceded by U.S., as in U.S. Armed Forces.
attribution - Identify the source of reported information; especially objective and opinioned-based statements. Include context in which comment was made if it is not apparent.

Use "said" in quotes. Do not use "says."

See "quotation marks."
battalion - Use numerals in unit names, and do not hyphenate: NMCB 4, not NMCB FOUR 
battle group - Do not use "battle group." Rather, use "carrier strike group" or "expeditionary strike group."
boat - Use to describe a submarine. Do not use to describe a ship.
boot camp - Use as two words. 
bullets - Always end the last bullet in a list with a period. Whether all preceding bullets end with nothing, with commas or with periods is strictly a matter of style.
burial at sea - Do not hyphenate. 
caliber - See AP Stylebook, (weapons). 
call signs - Do not refer to individuals by call signs. Use full name and rank.
carrier strike group - Capitalize when used with the name of a ship. Acceptable to precede name of strike group with "the."

The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations Dec. 9.
chaplain - Chaplains are identified as 'Cmdr. John W. Smith, a Navy chaplain,' in the first reference and as 'chaplain' or by last name thereafter.
chief (select) rate - use this term when referring to a Sailor who has been chosen for the rank of E-7. Example: Chief (select) Hospital Corpsman John Doe...
Chief of Naval Operations - CNO is acceptable on first reference. Lowercase when referenced after an individual's name or when used alone.
chief petty officer - Applies to Navy or Coast Guard personnel in pay grade E-7. Lowercase when referenced after an individual's name or when used alone.
Chiefs Mess - do not include apostrophe
cities/datelines - For cities that stand alone, use the list of datelines found in AP Style. Because of their strong Navy ties and frequent reference in stories, Great Lakes, Norfolk, San Diego and Pearl Harbor can stand alone, without states. 
civilian titles - Use full name and title or job description on first reference. Capitalize the title or job description, and do not use a comma to separate it from the individual's name when it precedes the name. Lower case titles when they follow the name. Use last names only on second and all following references. This applies to both men and women.

Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England

I.M. Smart, editor of All Hands magazine

Bill Dozer, a construction worker 
close proximity - Do not use; it's redundant. All proximity is close.
coalition - Do not capitalize.

U.S. and coalition forces took part in the event.
Coast Guardsman - Capitalize in all references to U.S. Coast Guard.

Sailors and Coast Guardsmen are instrumental in patrolling the Caribbean for drug smugglers.

The local coast guardsmen work with Sailors to protect harbors.
Commander in Chief - Used only for the President. Always capitalize. Do not hyphenate.
commanding officer - Do not capitalize unless used as title preceding name.

Commanding Officer Capt. Tom Jones welcomed the distinguished visitors to the base.

The commanding officer of the cruiser, Capt. Mary Smith, announced the ship would make a port visit to Key West, Fla.
CONUS - "Continental United States." CONUS refers to the 48 contiguous states. It is not synonymous with United States. CONUS is acceptable on first reference.
crew member - Use as two words. Do not use "crewman" or "crewmen." See service members.
database - Use as one word.
datelines/cities - For cities that stand alone, use the list of datelines found in AP Style. Because of their strong Navy ties, Great Lakes, Norfolk, San Diego, Pearl Harbor and Arlington can stand alone, without states.
D-Day - D-Day was June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Europe during World War II. 
decommissioned ships/submarines - Include reference that ship or submarine is no longer active.

The decommissioned carrier, USS Constellation (CV 64), will serve as a museum.
departments - Please note the distinction below.
USS Enterprise Engineering Department....
The Engineering department.... 
dependent - Do not use when referring to family of military personnel. Use terms such as "family members," "wife," "husband," "spouse," "parent," "child," etc. "Dependent" is perceived as derogatory. 
detachment - Abbreviate as "Det." in all references.

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43, Det. 5 also participated in the exercise.
disseminate - Do not use. Use distribute, circulate or entry in Roget's Thesaurus.
doctor - Navy doctors are identified as Cmdr.(Dr.) John J. Jones on first reference; by last name thereafter. See "military titles." 
DOD/DoD - Department of Defense. DOD or DoD is acceptable on first reference.
dry dock (noun), dry-dock (verb) - Do not use as one word. (See dictionary)
effect, affect - See AP Stylebook.
ensure, insure - "Ensure" is a guarantee, while "insure" means to put insurance on something.
exercises - Use full title on first reference: Exercise Kernal Potlatch '02, Operation Imminent Thunder. On second reference use Kernal Potlatch or Imminent Thunder.

If exercise is abbreviated, follow the rules under the entry "abbreviations and acronyms." Example: RIMPAC '02.

Note: For print publications, the name of the exercise should be in italics (e.g. Exercise Kernal Potlatch '02, Operation Imminent Thunder.) For NewsStand story submissions, use regular text (e.g. Exercise Kernal Potlatch '02, Operation Imminent Thunder, etc.)
fast-attack - Hyphenate when used as an adjective.

The fast-attack submarine deployed in November.
female - Avoid the use of this term. Use "woman" instead. 
first ever - Do not use. "First" is sufficient.
firsthand - one word
fleets - Use numerals and capitalize when referring to specific fleets (6th Fleet, 2nd Fleet, 7th Fleet). Do not capitalize in common usage: We sent a message to the fleet.
fleetwide - Use as one word. 
flight deck - Use as two words.
fo'c'sle - noun. A superstructure at or immediately aft of the bow of a vessel, used as a shelter for stores, machinery, etc., or as quarters for sailors.
foreign cities - On first reference, the name of foreign cities are followed by the spelled-out name of the nation in which the city is located (e.g., Worms, Germany) unless listed in AP Style under datelines. 
frontline/front line - Use as a noun; or use as an adjective.

Troops on the frontline need supplies.
Front line troops are the most in need.
general quarters - Lower case when spelled out: The crew stayed at general quarters for 18 hours.

"GQ" is acceptable on second reference: The staff stayed at "GQ" for days to come up with an eight-page story on deck-swabbing. 
global war on terrorism - Do not capitalize.
gray - Not "grey," except greyhound.
guided-missile - Hyphenate when used as an adjective.

The guided-missile cruiser is homeported in San Diego.
half-mast, half-staff - On ships and at naval stations ashore, flags are flown at "half-mast." Elsewhere ashore, flags are flown at "half-staff."
hangar, hanger - A "hangar" is a building, and a "hanger" is used for clothes.
HCC - helicopter control center
HCS - helicopter combat support squadron
helo - short, acceptable slang form of the word "helicopter"
her, she - Appropriate pronoun when referring to a ship. Do not use this pronoun with reference to a nation except in quoted material. Use "it" instead.
his - Do not presume maleness in sentences, and avoid using "his/her." Recast the sentence if necessary.

Example: "Reporters attempt to protect sources." -NOT- "A reporter attempts to protect his sources."
homeport - One word in all uses:

The Navy's newest homeport will be Detroit.

The ship is homeported in San Diego.
HS - helicopter anti-submarine squadron
HSL - helicopter anti-submarine squadron light
hull numbers - See entry for "ship names."
Humvee - a trademark used for military vehicles.
in country - Service members arrive in country. Once there, they have and in-country presence.
in order to - Do not use. "To" is more effective and to the point.
in port - Use as two words.
Internet - Capitalize. (See AP Stylebook.)
italics - For All Hands Magazine and other print publications, italicize names of ships, aircraft, weapons systems, manuals, magazines, newspapers and book titles, except the Bible. Put quotation marks around names of magazine articles, song titles, brochures and pamphlets but do not italicize.

For all submissions, do not use. See "composition titles" in AP Style Guide.
it's, its - "It's" is a contraction for "it is."

"Its" is the possessive for "it."
junior, senior - Abbreviate as "Jr." and "Sr." only with full names. Do not precede with a comma.
knot - A "knot" is one nautical mile (6,076.10 feet) per hour. It's redundant to say "knots per hour." Always use figures.

Winds were at 7 to 9 knots; a 10-knot wind.
leatherneck - Lowercase this nickname for a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
liaison - Use "liaison" as a noun. Do not use the verb form "liaise," as it is not usually used appropriately or well.
lifestyle - Use as one word.
Marines - This is a proper noun. Capitalize when referring to U.S. forces (the U.S. Marines, the Marine Corps). Do not use the abbreviation USMC.
maritime security operations - lowercase when spelled out, uppercase acronym (MSO).
maritime strategy - lowercase
Mark - Use "MK" when referring to the word "Mark" in weapons or equipment. (He worked on an MK 50 torpedo.)
master chief petty officer - Refers to Navy or Coast Guard personnel in pay grade E-9.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy - MCPON is acceptable on first reference. Lowercase when referenced after an individual's name or when used alone.
men - Do not use "men" if referring to a group of persons made up of men and women, or a group of individuals whose genders are unknown.
MIA - Missing in Action. MIA is acceptable on first reference.
midshipman - On first reference: Midshipman 1st Class John P. Jones (or 2nd Class, 3rd Class, 4th Class, if known). On subsequent reference(s): Jones.

Note: military abbreviation is MIDN 1/C (or 2/C, 3/C, 4/C, respectively); 1/C are in their senior year of school (USNA or NROTC), 2/C are juniors, 3/C are sophomores, 4/C are freshmen. "Midshipman" is singular; "midshipmen" is plural; term applies to both male and female. 
military rank - Always refer to Sailors by rating or rank and not pay grade (e.g., Yeoman 2nd Class or YN2, not E-5 - Captain or CAPT, not 0-6).
military titles/job titles - For enlisted personnel, spell out the rate and rating on first reference. In cutlines abbreviate ranks and ratings at all times.

Radioman 2nd Class Winifred O. Mildew

For E-1 through E-6 personnel, place rating before pay grade. For E-7 through E-9 personnel, place rating after pay grade.

Electrician's Mate 1st Class George Washington
Chief Engineering Aide Dolly Madison 

All Hands Magazine only: Abbreviate ratings no matter what the rank on second reference - RM1, RM3, etc. Also abbreviate ratings when used in cutlines.

If the Sailor is surface warfare, air warfare or submarine qualified, include the designator in the rating.

Chief Aviation Storekeeper (AW/SW) Frade O. Flying

When using a rating/rate apart from a name, do not capitalize.

Flash is a photographer's mate.
Garcia is a petty officer second class.

For naval officer ranks, Navy NewsStand/NavNews follows Associated Press (AP) Stylebook guidance for military titles. AP style is the preferred style for public release, as NewsStand/NavNews stories are often used in civilian publications. This style should be used whenever there is a strong likelihood that civilian editors may want to reprint the story.

Because All Hands magazine is primarily aimed at the Navy internal audience, Navy correspondence style is used.

A brief summary showing both AP and Navy correspondence styles are noted here:

(Rank -- AP style -- Navy correspondence style)

admiral -- Adm. -- ADM
vice admiral -- Vice Adm. -- VADM
rear admiral upper half -- Rear Adm. -- RADM
rear admiral lower half -- Rear Adm. -- RDML
captain -- Capt. -- CAPT
commander -- Cmdr. -- CDR
lieutenant commander -- Lt. Cmdr. -- LCDR
lieutenant -- Lt. -- LT
lieutenant junior grade -- Lt. j.g. -- LTJG
ensign -- Ensign -- ENS
chief warrant officer --
-- Chief Warrant Officer 1 -- CWO1
-- Chief Warrant Officer 2 -- CWO2
-- Chief Warrant Officer 3 -- CWO3
-- Chief Warrant Officer 4 -- CWO4

When spelling out the rank of rear admiral, the use of upper half and lower half is optional.

Doctors in the Navy are identified as Cmdr. John J. Jones, a doctor, on first reference, Jones thereafter. Chaplains are identified as Cmdr. John W. Smith, a chaplain, or USS Blue Water command chaplain, in the first reference and as Smith thereafter.

When listing members of other services, precede the rank and name with the branch of service: Army Capt. Hawkeye Pierce. Use last name only on second reference. This applies to all military personnel, regardless of gender or rank.

Abbreviate other branches of service using the AP Stylebook.
military units - Use numerals for unit designations. See "aircraft," "fleets" and "ships."
millimeter - Abbreviate as "mm" with no space: 35mm film, 105mm Howitzer.
mine hunting - Use as two words.
minehunter - Use as one word.
missiles - Capitalize and italicize the proper name, but not the word missile: Titan II missile.
MK - Use "MK" when referring to the word "Mark" in weapons or equipment. (He worked on an MK 50 torpedo.)
multicultural - This word is not hyphenated
naval - lowercase
naval activities - Spell out on first reference and capitalize only when part of a proper name:
Naval Station Rota, Spain

On second reference, abbreviate as follows:

naval station - NAVSTA
naval air station - NAS
naval weapons station - NWS
naval amphibious base - NAB
naval air facility - NAF
naval facility - NAVFAC
construction battalion center - CBC
Naval Reserve - Capitalize when referring to the specific organization. Capitalize "Reserve" when referencing the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Navy Knowledge Online - Navy Knowledge Online is the Navy's portal to education and training information. NKO is acceptable on second reference. Lowercase "the portal" when it stands alone.

See 5 Vector Model.
Navywide - Use as one word and always capitalize.
nonrated personnel - The term refers to enlisted Navy members in pay grades E-1 to E-3. Sailors in general apprenticeships are identified as recruit or E-1; apprentice or E-2; or by their apprenticeship field e.g. seaman (SN), fireman (FN), airman (AN), constructionman (CN), dentalman (DN), hospitalman (HN), etc.

Airman Recruit Frankie Flightline
numbered fleets - Always refer to as digits and precede with "U.S."

The ship is assigned to U.S. 6th Fleet.
OEF, OIF - Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Do not add any number to these titles based on rotation status.
officer in charge - Do not hyphenate.
offload/off-load - One word as a noun and hyphenate as a verb.

The offload took 12 hours.
Deck Department prepared to offload pallets.
over v. more than - "Over" refers to physical placement (above). "More than" is used with numbers.

The light is over the desk.

More than 50,000 visitors attended the air show.
pay grade - Use as two words. Designations such as 0-3, E-6, etc., are only used in reference to pay grades.
pendant - A short line and hooking device used to secure large objects (e.g., a cargo pallet or boat) to a towing or hoisting line.
pennant - A long, tapering flag used for signaling and/or identification.
percentages - Use figures.

The crew's donation to Toys for Tots increased 20 percent.
Persian Gulf - use Arabian Gulf. "Gulf" is acceptable in second reference. Note: The Arabian Sea is its own body of water and should not be confused with references to the Arabian Gulf.
petty officer - Applies to anyone in pay grades E-4 to E-6.
Philippines - Use Republic of the Philippines on first reference. The people are Filipinos and the language is Tagalog.
pierside - Use as one word
plankowner - One word.
pre-positioned - Hyphenate when referencing equipment or ships placed somewhere at an earlier date.

Supplies and equipment were pre-positioned in the Gulf.
President - Capitalize when referring to a specific individual. Lower case when referring to presidents in general.
punctuation - When typing copy, leave only one space after all forms of punctuation.
quotation marks - The period and comma always go within the quotation marks. The dash, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.

USS Defender (MCM 2) was awarded the Battle 'E.'

"The crew performed superbly," said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown.
rate - Refers to enlisted pay grades, e.g., E-4, E-8. Spell out and follow with warfare qualifications.

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) Penn Tell
reenlist - Do not hyphenate between the double vowel.
refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) - lowercase when spelled out, uppercase acronym
replenishment-at-sea - lowercase; hyphenate
Reserve, Reservist(s) - Capitalize "Reserve" when referencing the U.S. Naval Reserve.
retired - Use retired before rank/rate and name. Do not capitalize. Do not use abbreviated after a name.

They invited retired Journalist 1st Class John D. Writer.
said - Use alternatives to "said" sparingly. Do not use "says." Occasional use of "explained," "pointed out," "noted," etc. is acceptable, but they are not synonymous with "said."
Sailor - "Sailor" is to be capitalized in all references except those who belong to foreign navies. 
Sea Hawk - Two words
SEAL - Sea, Air, Land. SEAL is acceptable on first reference. If plural, use SEALs.
Secretary of the Navy - SECNAV is acceptable on first reference. Lowercase when referenced after an individual's name or when used alone.
Sept. 11 - Use "Sept. 11 attack" or "Sept. 11 terrorist attack."
service members - Use as two words. 
ship names - For first reference always include USS, the ship's name and the hull number: USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

Exceptions: Do not use "USS" for ships before 1909; or if she is not yet in commission; or she has been decommissioned and you are referring to the ship in her present state.

There is no hyphen in the hull number. In All Hands text, the ship name is in italics. On second reference, use only the ship's name. Do not use "the" in front of a ship's name: "USS San Jose," not "the USS San Jose."

Ships may be referred to as "she" or "her."

Ships' nicknames are placed inside quotation marks on first reference only. USS LaSalle (AGF 3), the "Great White Ghost," sailed into San Diego.

Ship names are not in all caps. Use USS Seattle, not USS SEATTLE.
spokesperson - "Spokesman" or "spokeswoman" is preferred. Use "spokesperson" only if the gender of the individual is unknown. If possible, use a generic term instead: public affairs officer, representative, etc.
squadrons - Spell out on first reference and use numerals for the squadron's number: Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1. On second reference, use the abbreviation (with a dash), e.g. VQ-1. 
stand down/standdown - One word when used as a noun. Two words when used as a verb.

The safety standdown was held Nov. 4.

The officer in charge told him to stand down.
state names - See AP Stylebook.
Submarine Force - use upper case when referring to Submarine Force
team member - Use as two words.
theater security cooperation - lowercase when spelled out, uppercase acronym (TSC)
time - Do not use military time unless quoted.
titles - Capitalize titles when used before a name only. 
undersecretary - Use as one word.
underway - Use as one word.
United States - Abbreviate only when used as an adjective. Spell out when used as a noun.

She is a U.S. citizen

She lived in the United States.
VAQ - electronic attack squadron 
VAW - carrier airborne early warning squadron
VFA - strike fighter squadron
videotape - Use as one word.
VMFA - Marine strike fighter attack squadron 
VP - patrol squadron 
VRC - fleet logistics support squadron 
VS - sea control squadron 
warfare qualifications - Add if known in abbreviated form Example: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Jane Doe. 
warfighter - Use as one word.
washdown - use as one word
watchstander, watchstanding - Use as one word.
weapons systems - Italicize names of weapons systems: Harpoon, Aegis, etc. in All Hands.
-wide - No hyphen.

nationwide, Navywide, fleetwide
woman, women - Preferred to "female."
World War I, World War II - Do not abbreviate. Use World War I or World War II in all references.
your, you're - "Your" indicates possession, and "you're" is a contraction for "you are."


  1. This is a great list...for the Navy. Each of the services has its own way of speaking, writing, making abbreviations (the rest of us make fun of the Navy for its endless organization-name abbreviations), even the way we write our ranks (the Army says "CPT," the Air Force says "Capt.") Make sure you use the right style for the branch of service you're writing about.

    1. Lance, good point. I should have specified. And I did read somewhere that the Navy is particularly... Particular. Hehehe