Apostrophe: #1's or #1s?


Lately, I've had copy editors remove all the apostrophes in dates (1960's to 1960s) and I've also had P's and Q's corrected to Ps and Qs. When this began, I was a little surprised because I could have sworn my elementary school teacher told me to put them in.

So, I was thrilled to see that the Destiny's Child best-of album is #1's with the apostrophe. Maybe I'm not losing my mind.

To see what's really going on in apostrophe land, I did a Google check. While numbers like "1" and "2" consistently have apostrophe in the plural, date punctuation is in flux. I am seeing both 60's and 60s (not to mention '60s and probably '60's).

Similarly I see both P's and Q's (and p's and q's) as well as Ps and Qs. It appears to be a change in English Standard punctuation in progress.

This is confirmed by the Apostrophe Abuse blog in which one commenter says the Chicago Manual of Style says it should be "Ps and Qs" (but "p's and q's") while another says the Oxford English Dictionary favors all "P's and Q's."

Truthfully either way makes sense depending on your point of view. I just wish more people would admit that some punctuation rules are dictated by fashion, not pure logic.