Q. I’m proofreading a manuscript in which US is abbreviated without periods throughout. But when it’s part of a compound, periods are added. (“The U.S.-ratified agreement,” or “U.S.-friendly leaders,” for example.) My impulse is to change it, but it appears so regularly that it seems to have been done this way on purpose. (There are 35 instances over 400 pages of text.) Is there ever a reason to use periods in some instances but not others, when you’re abbreviating “United States”?

A. We shy away from the use of never, but this seems weird and definitely worth querying. Perhaps it’s the result of a poorly executed global search-and-replace move that changed all mentions except these (or vice versa). If you can’t query, edit them with a note that you did so. It shouldn’t be too hard to put them all back the way they were if there turns out to be a good reason for the inconsistency.