Two-letter abbreviations: TWO exceptions TOO many. Period.

cartoon images of G.I. Joe

That’s “G-period-I-period” to you, pal.

According to the AP Stylebook, one should use capital letters and periods in most two-letter abbreviations.

For example:  the U.N., the U.K., B.A., and B.C. …

“AP, a trademark, is an exception.”

Ok, I can accept that. It’s AP’s stylebook, so it can choose to be exceptional.

But then it adds there are no periods in GI and EU.

Why?  What are they thinking?

Why is it “the U.N.” and yet “the EU”?  What makes the United Nations different from the European Union when it comes to punctuation?

United … Union … Nations … Nations of Europe. Nope, I don’t see it.

Why does AP single out the abbreviation “GI” — usually understood to mean “Government Issue,” but specifically relating to the U.S. Armed Forces.

According to Merriam-Webster, “GI” originally meant “galvanized iron.” It was used as an abbreviation in U.S. military supply lists to describe such things as garbage cans. During World War II, “G.I. Joe” became the general nickname for all American soldiers, no matter what branch of the Army or Army Air Forces they were in.

Wait a minute: That’s “G.I. Joe.”

That trademark uses two periods.

But the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs drops the periods, AP-Style-like, in offering the educational grants to veterans covered under what’s known as the “GI Bill.”

So, when considering two-letter abbreviations, I need to keep in mind:

The AP correspondent covering the EU military beat sold his G.I. Joe doll* collection when the GI Bill didn’t cover all his university expenses.

[Does AP distinguish between “dolls” and “figurines”?  Is it sexist to insist that only girls play with dolls, and boys play with figurines?]

— Nadine Siak


Do cops eat doughnuts, or donuts?

As I considered what sort of photo I ought to place at the top of my spanking-new blog, an image of a policeman eating a doughnut popped into my head.

Then my Undercover Copy Editor side piped up.

“Wait a second,” the small voice said. “Is that thing a doughnut, or a donut?”

When I checked my AP Stylebook smartphone app, I was pleased to see there was actually a “doughnut” entry. It even had a star next to it. The entry itself, however, was not stellar. It was disappointingly brief — no mention of the possibility my imaginary policeman might want to dunk his “donut” into a cup of coffee.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online at least) notes:

Variants of DOUGHNUT
dough·nut also do·nut

The online Oxford Dictionary also slips in a parenthetical: (also donut).

Many dictionaries note that “donut” is an American (vs. British) English variant spelling for “doughnut,” but surprisingly enough … they have “donuts” in England, too.  You just wouldn’t want to eat them.
An idiot. A mild insult often used in the work places of southern England
-nuts, -nutting, -nutted3. (transitive) (informal) (of Members of Parliament) to surround (a speaker) during the televising of Parliament to give the impression that the chamber is crowded or the speaker is well supported

— Nadine Siak