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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