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Editorial Style Guide

Word List and Usage A–Z

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J–K   L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X–Z



lab Acceptable for laboratory, except in proper names: Pfizer Research Laboratories.

lay, lie Lay is a transitive verb—it demands a direct object: lay your pencils down. Its forms are laid (past tense, past participle) and laying (present participle): I laid the book there yesterday; these rumors have been laid to rest; I am laying the book on the table.

Lie is an intransitive verb—it never takes a direct object: lie down and rest. Its forms are lay (past tense), lain (past participle), and lying (present participle): she lay down and rested; he hasn’t yet lain down; he is lying on the beach.

Latino (masculine), Latina (feminine): A person from—or whose ancestors were from—a Spanish-speaking land or culture. Use Latino for the plural if indefinite or including both men and women. Also see Hispanic. While both Latino and Hispanic are generally acceptable, some people have a strong preference. Whenever possible, it is best to use a more specific identification, such as Cuban, Mexican, Venezuelan, etc.

lecturer At Purchase College, this is a non-tenure-track faculty title; the appointment may be either full time or part time.

led This is the correct spelling of the past tense and past participle of the verb lead.

legislature Capitalize when preceded by the name of a state: the New York State Legislature. Lowercase when the state name is dropped: The Republican from Yonkers spent 28 years in the state legislature. Lowercase when used generically and for all plural references: No legislature has approved the bill. The Arizona and Colorado legislatures are considering the amendment.

lend (v.), loan (v. and n.): Lend is the correct term for letting someone use something with the understanding that it (or its equivalent) will be returned: I will lend you my car this evening. The past-tense and past-participial form of lend is lent: She lent him the car for the evening.

Use loan as a verb only when money is the subject of the transaction: He loaned his son $200. The noun loan corresponds to both the verbs lend and loan: The car is on loan from the company. He repaid the $200 loan.

lesbian Used to describe women attracted to the same sex. Preferred over homosexual except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity. Also see gay. (AP style)

less, fewer Use less for amounts or mass nouns—for example, less salt, dirt, water. Use fewer for individual items (countable things)—for example, fewer people, calories, suggestions. One general guideline is to use less with singular nouns (less money) and fewer with plural nouns (fewer dollars).

Examples:
The trend is toward more machines and fewer people. (People in this sense refers to individuals.)
She was less than 18 years old. (Years in this sense refers to a period of time, not individual years.)
Fewer than 10 applicants responded. (Individuals)
I had less than $500 in the bank. (An amount.)
I had fewer than seven $1 bills in my wallet. (Individual items.)

LGBT, LGBTQ Acceptable in first references for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, respectively. Should be spelled out in the body of the story. (AP style)

life- When using to form a compound modifier, follow with a hyphen; consult Merriam-Webster’s when in doubt. Some examples: life-size, life span, lifestyle, lifetime.

like (social media term, n. and v.) See friend, follow, like.

like- Follow with a hyphen when used as a prefix meaning “similar to”: like-minded, like-natured. No hyphen in words that have meanings of their own: likelihood, likeness, likewise.

-like In general, no hyphen when used as a suffix unless the letter l would be tripled or when joining with a proper noun: businesslike, shell-like, Ripken-like.

like, as/as if Use like as an adjectival preposition to compare nouns and pronouns; this use requires an object: The person in that photograph looks like you. The conjunction as or as if introduces clauses: It snowed as he predicted. She looks as if she misplaced her notes.

Although like as a conjunction has been considered nonstandard since the 17th century, today it is common in dialectal and colloquial usage: he ran like he was really scared. (Chicago Manual) However, avoid this usage in formal writing.

Listserv This is a trademarked name; use distribution list or discussion list for generic references: An email distribution list is automatically created for each class. The policy was debated on the faculty discussion list.

log-in, log-on, log-off Hyphenate when used as a noun or adjective, two words when used as a verb: At the log-in screen, enter your user name and password. Log in with your user name and password. (The hyphenated noun is an exception to AP style, which uses the closed form: login, logon, and logoff.)

-long In general, no hyphen when used to form a compound: hourlong, monthlong, yearlong.

long time, longtime I haven’t seen you in a long time; a longtime member of New York Philharmonic.

lose, loose (v.), loosen To lose something is to be deprived of it. To loose something is to release it from fastenings or restraints. To loosen is to make less tight or to ease a restraint. Loose conveys the idea of complete release, whereas loosen refers to only a partial release.

-ly Do not use a hyphen between an adverb ending in –ly and an adjective it modifies: an easily remembered rule, a fully informed person.

Updated March 23, 2014

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