GrammarFilter: How many plurals?
January 10, 2017 12:54 PM   Subscribe

In the subject line of a regulatory filing that is being submitted to multiple dockets, do I say "Docket Nos. XXX & YYY" or "Dockets Nos. XXX & YYY"?

The convention with the relevant regulators in my jurisdiction is that the subject line should include both a brief statement of the filing's topic, followed on a new line by the docket of the filing. Example. But when filing in multiple dockets, should one pluralize both "Docket" and "No." or just "No."? In your head, would you expect to read it as "Docket Numbers" or "Dockets Numbers," and which Sounds Better? Does the abbreviation to "No." matter?

Note that I'm not trying to figure out what others in my jurisdiction do; there are lots of examples of that for me to consult. I what to know what's Right, and only MetaFilter can answer that.
posted by nickmark to Writing & Language (14 answers total)
To me, you're referring specifically to the numbers of the dockets rather than specifically to the dockets themselves. So "Docket Numbers", rather than "Dockets numbered." Certainly not ever "Dockets numbers." YMMV.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

In a similar context, I say Case Nos. under the logic that you're indicating the numbers themselves, not the cases. I'd say Docket Nos.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:01 PM on January 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

For me, I'd say "Dockets numbered XXX & YYY" - a little longer but it reads better.
posted by rongorongo at 1:07 PM on January 10, 2017

"Docket number" is a compound noun - two words that go together to name a single thing. So you pluralize it by making it "docket numbers." Docket Nos. 34 and 35, not Dockets Nos. 34 and 35. Imagine you're talking about a month when there were two full moons. You wouldn't say "fulls moons." And if the moons were numbered you wouldn't say "September was the month of Fulls Moons #9 and #10." You'd say "September was the month of Full Moons #9 and #10.") This is the same deal.

What might be confusing about this situation is that "docket" is a noun of its own, unlike "full." So you could also say "Dockets 34 and 35," leaving out the number part.
posted by Redstart at 1:18 PM on January 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

For what it's worth, I work in a federal courthouse and wouldn't blink at either. I would personally put Docket Nos. 1 and 2 if I was filing and not think about it too much (based upon the same thinking that Redstart explained above). The bluebook prescribes Nos. rather than No. for multiple filings, but again, I wouldn't really care if I saw either, and my job is largely to find problems with court filings.
posted by skewed at 1:24 PM on January 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

A better example than my full moon one would be "tree branch." You would never pluralize that as "trees branches." You'd say "Tree branches 13 and 14," not "Trees branches 13 and 14."
posted by Redstart at 1:30 PM on January 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The former.
posted by holborne at 1:31 PM on January 10, 2017

Yeah, Docket Nos. Worked with a court system for 7 years, never saw or wrote it any other way.
posted by ferret branca at 1:41 PM on January 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agreed, Docket Nos and Case Nos.

Though, if you wanted to refer to the cases themselves, you could say something like "today we will be hearing cases numbered 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 11". But I would says "cases numbers".
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:47 PM on January 10, 2017

"Docket Numbers." Just like "Whoppers Junior." Only in reverse.
posted by kerf at 1:50 PM on January 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your regulatory agency has one docket, and on that docket are many numbered cases. Referring to more than one case means referrring to more than one number from the same single docket. So docket numbers.
posted by hhc5 at 3:23 PM on January 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

For whatever it's worth, Law & Order goes with "docket numbers" -- see here or here for example scripts. I couldn't dig up any relevant video that didn't come from some super sketchy site (still finding it weird how SVU completely displaced L&O Original Flavor).
posted by mhum at 6:43 PM on January 10, 2017

I'd go with "Docket Nos." (I've worked for my state's appellate court system for 15 years, 10 as an editor.)
posted by kelborel at 8:05 AM on January 11, 2017

And, having reread your question, "docket numbers" is "right," not just our jurisdiction's practice, for the reasons given by humboldt32, Bulgaroktonos, and others.
posted by kelborel at 8:08 AM on January 11, 2017

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