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Stacey: I agree with Tom Tomasovic on two counts. 1) copyediting-l will
answer your question in more detail than you can imagine. 2) I don't see
any reason to capitalize "government" at all. The only people who
capitalize "federal government" are federal employees in federal documents
- and I would do so because that is part of their style.
BTW: In addition to everyone's response, look in the Chicago Manual of
Style for additional guidance.
Addressing your other questions - here are my humble practices.
Two words connected by a hyphen are syntactically considered one word,
therefore only the first letter of the first word should be written in
upper case. Same recommendation for words joined by a slash.
I have had no experience with hyphenated acronyms, but I would treat a
hyphenated word in an acronym as above. Acronyms should be capitalized.
For emphasis, I always write them with the first letter of each significant
word in upper case in the first introduction, even when the acronym does
not represent a department or something that normally is capitalized. I
never use an acronym without first writing it out and following it
immediately with the acronym in parentheses. Somebody is going to miss it!
My personal rule is clarity relative to these topics. I try to do whatever
is necessary to accommodate the most uninformed or dense part of my
audience! Hence, a document for people in an organization who are all
familiar with the acronym will have only one intro and then regular use. A
document for a mixed audience with the possibility of "uninformed" people
will probably have a reintroduction or reminder of the acronym if it does
not appear regularly throughout the text.
Hope these few suggestions help! Marilyn
Marilyn Barrett O'Leary
Louisiana Sea Grant College Program
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA
moleary -at- lsuvm -dot- sncc -dot- lsu -dot- edu