I was curating some content for my social media feeds earlier today when I came across the phrase “do’s and don’ts” in the headline of an article about managing social media accounts.

I’ve seen this phrase many times, but I’ve also seen it written as “dos and don’ts” and “do’s and don’t’s”. So which is correct?

Well, we typically don’t use apostrophes to make nouns plural. (Other than things like “Mind your P’s and Q’s” or “There are 3 A’s in Canada”.) So, that pretty much leaves out all but “dos and don’ts”. And the Chicago Manual of Style agrees:

Words and hyphenated phrases that are not nouns but are used as nouns usually form the plural by adding s or es.

Not so fast though. Associated Press says using an apostrophe is just fine (see here and here).

So which is it?

Well, it’s probably a stylistic choice. Check with your editor or your preferred style guide to be sure. Otherwise, just be consistent. My personal preference is “dos and don’ts”.

Whatever you do, don’t use “do’s and don’t’s”. Ever.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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