led—not lead, for the past tense of lead
legal cases—Italicize the names of legal cases. Abbreviate v. for versus in case names: Miranda v. Arizona, Times v. Sullivan. Retain the italics when the case name is shortened: the Miranda case. (See versus.)
letter grades—See grades, letter.
letters— Italicize individual letters and combinations of letters of the alphabet: the letter q, a lowercase n. Is the plural formed with s or es? In some idiomatic expressions, the distinction is ignored: Mind your p’s and q’s. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. (12) Notice that single letters take an apostrophe in the plural form. (See plural figures and letters and grades, letter.)
life—Compounds with life can be open, hyphenated, or closed. Consult the dictionary: life preserver, life raft, life span, life-form, lifeblood, lifeboat, lifesaver, lifestyle, lifetime.
-like (suffix)—Compounds formed with the suffix like are generally closed but are hyphenated after words ending in l, words of three or more syllables, proper nouns, or other forms that may be difficult to read: childlike, catlike, sail-like, gull-like, bicycle-like, Roosevelt-like. “Hyphenated compounds retain the hyphen both before and after a noun.” (13) (See prefixes and suffixes.)
little, lesser, least—Compounds formed with little, lesser, and least are hyphenated before a noun, open after: little-known tale, the tale was little known, the lesser-prepared student, the student who is least prepared.
macro- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: macroeconomics, macromolecular. (See prefixes and suffixes.)
measure, units of—Always use numerals: 5 feet, 6 inches, 12 miles. Abbreviations are generally avoided in running text, but may be necessary when space is limited, such as in tables, charts, or graphs. They are identical in the singular and plural. Abbreviate as follows:
m.p.g. miles per gallon
m.p.h. miles per hour
km/h kilometers per hour
kWh kilowatt hour
°F degrees Fahrenheit
°C degrees Celsius (replaces centigrade)
medals and awards, military—“Specific names of medals and awards are capitalized: Bronze Star, Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Silver Star.” (14)
media (plural), medium (singular)
micro- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: micromanage, microwave. (See prefixes and suffixes.)
mid- (prefix)—Generally closed. Hyphenate if the second element is a proper noun: midweek, midterm, midlife, mid-Atlantic, mid-Victorian; but mid-nineteenth century, mid-nineteenth-century painter. (See century and prefixes and suffixes.)
midnight— Use midnight, not 12:00 midnight or 12:00 a.m. (See noon.)
military terms—Full “titles of armies, navies, air forces, fleets, regiments, battalions, companies, corps, and so forth are capitalized.” The words army, navy, etc., “are lowercased when standing alone, when used collectively in the plural, or when not part of an official title: United States Army, the army, the American army, United States Navy, the navy, the armed forces.” (15)
Miller Analogies Test
millions, billions—Use figures with million or billion in all but casual uses (thanks a million). Retain the word million with the first figure in a range: The deal will be worth from $2 million to $4 million (not $2 to $4 million). Do not use a hyphen to join the figures and the word, even as an adjectival modifier: The president submitted a $300 million budget. Do not go beyond two decimal places: 7.55 million people (7,546,500 people). (16)
mini- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: minibike, minibus, minigrant, miniskirt. (See prefixes and suffixes.)
moneys (not monies)—plural form of money.
months—Do not abbreviate in running text; capitalize and spell out in all uses: October 1964; January 1, 2000; Mother’s Day is in May. Months may be abbreviated as follows when space is limited: Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.
more, most—Compounds formed with more and most are usually open unless a hyphen is needed to distinguish meaning: most favored child, more plausible excuses (more excuses that are plausible), more-plausible excuses (excuses that are more plausible).
multi- (prefix)—Generally closed, no hyphen: multidisciplinary, multifaceted, multipurpose. (See prefixes and suffixes.)
(12) Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition (1993), 6.82
(13) Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (2003), 7.90
(14) Ibid., 8.123
(15) Ibid., 8.120
(16) The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2000), p. 163
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