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King County Editorial Style Manual - Listings - L

King County Editorial Style Manual - Listings - L

laid, lain. See lay, lie.

lake. Capitalize only as part of a proper name: Lake Washington, Bitter Lake, the lake. Lowercase in plural form: The report included lakes Washington and Sammamish. For limited space in maps, charts and tables, Lake may be abbreviated: Lk. Don't create one word with the names of lakes, such as Greenlake. It's always Green Lake.

Lake Washington Ship Canal. Use full name on first reference. Ship canal (lowercase) is acceptable on second reference.

LAN. Acronym for local area network. Spell out (lowercased) on first use.

laptop. One word for a laptop computer.

last, latest, past. Avoid use of last to mean latest if it might imply finality. OK: The last time it rained, I forgot my umbrella. But: He made the last announcement at noon today may leave the reader wondering whether the announcement was the final announcement or whether others are to follow. Past may be a better word. Change: They worked together the last five months. To: They worked together the past five months. Also, past history and past experience are redundant.

The word last can be confusing to convey the notion of most recent when using the name of a month or day; does last April mean April this year or April last year? Preferred: It happened in April. It happened Wednesday. Or: It happened last week. It happened last month. Redundant: It happened last Wednesday.

Latino. See Hispanic, Latino.

lay, lie. Often confused. The action word is lay, which means "to place, put or deposit." It is followed by a direct object: I will lay the agenda on the desk. I laid the agenda on the desk. I have laid the agenda on the desk. I am laying the agenda on the desk.

Lie means "to be in a reclining position." It does not take a direct object. It is often followed by down or a prepositional phrase: The mechanic decided to lie down. The wrench lies on the workbench. The wrench lay on the workbench all day. The wrench has lain on the workbench all day. The wrench is lying on the workbench.

When lie means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied and lying.

layover (n.), lay over (v.).

law. Capitalize legislative acts but not bills or laws: the Taft-Hartley Act, the Kennedy bill. Follow differing editorial styles used in legislative acts, bills and laws only when quoting them directly. See motion, ordinance.

lectern, podium. Frequently confused. A speaker stands behind a lectern on a podium.

left off. Informal. Consider rephrasing with a form of stop.

legal documents. Some exceptions to editorial style rules in this manual might be appropriate for some established standards and practices of legal documents. See exceptions; motion, ordinance.

legislative districts. See districts.

legislative titles. On first reference, use Rep., Reps., Sen. and Sens. as formal titles before one or more names. In business correspondence, spell out and capitalize those titles before names. Spell out and lowercase those titles in other uses. Add U.S. or state before a title if necessary to avoid confusion: U.S. Rep. Warren Jackson spoke with state Sen. Henry Magnuson. Do not use legislative titles before a name on second reference unless they are part of a direct quotation. Also, lowercase legislative. See correspondence, councilmember, party affiliation.

legislature. Capitalize when the name of a state comes before it: the Washington Legislature. Keep capitalization when dropping the state name but the reference to the state's legislature is clear: the state Legislature, the Legislature today.

legitimate. Commonly misspelled.

leisure. Commonly misspelled.

lend, loan. Use lend and its verb forms, lent and lending. Avoid using loan as a verb. Use it as a noun. Correct: Key Bank gave me a loan. Avoid: I loaned her my car.

length. See dimensions.

LEP. See limited English proficiency.

lesbian. See gay, lesbian.

less. See fewer, less.

less than, under. If you mean a lesser quantity or amount, use less than. Use under to mean physically underneath. See over, more than.

liable, likely. Both express probability of something happening but liable implies exposure to something undesirable or unpleasant. See likelihood, likely.

liaison. Commonly misspelled.

license. Commonly misspelled.

lie. See lay, lie.

lieu. Commonly misspelled.

life cycle. Two words.


lifestyle. One word.

lift-equipped. Hyphenate.

light, lighted, lighting, lit. Both light and lit are acceptable as past-tense verbs: The mourners lighted 100 candles for the vigil. The mourners lit 100 candles for the vigil. Lighted is preferred for the adjective form: The intersection is well-lighted. A well-lighted intersection.

lightning. Commonly misspelled.

light rail. Two words when used as a noun. Hyphenate when used as a compound adjective: They considered two light-rail alternatives for the region.

likable. Not likeable.

like. See as, like.

likelihood, likely. Commonly misspelled. Also, when using likely as an adverb to modify a verb, precede it with most, quite, rather or very: The council will very likely approve the plan. Those qualifying words aren't needed with probably, in all likelihood and is likely to: The council will probably approve the plan. The council is likely to approve the plan. See liable, likely.

limited English proficiency. Abbreviated (after spelling it out first) as LEP, limited English proficiency refers to limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English at a level that enables a person to interact effectively with King County staff or use county services. See Translation resources.

Also, King County's Plain-language writing guide provides advice for writing documents that meet the needs of all readers, including documents that may be read by or translated for people with LEP. Plain-language principles include short paragraphs, short sentences, familiar words with clear meanings, and active verbs. Also see plain English, plain language in this manual.

Link light rail system. A project planned by Sound Transit, which does not hyphenate light rail. May be referred to as Sound Transit Link, ST Link or the Link.

link together. See join together, link together.

lists. Lists are useful in texts to save space and improve readability. To use this technique most effectivelyLists

  • List only comparable items.
  • Keep the list items grammatically parallel.
  • Use only words, phrases or short sentences.
  • Provide adequate transitions before and after lists.
  • Do not overuse lists or make them too long.
Use lists correctly to aid your readers.

When listing information in paragraph form, use commas to separate items in the list if the items are brief and have little or no internal punctuation. If the items are complex, separate them with semicolons. To emphasize sequence, order or chronology of list items, each item may be preceded with a number or letter enclosed in parentheses or followed by a period. See semicolon for separating items in a sentence list that contain commas. Also see Clear and effective paragraphs in the County's Plain-language writing guide.

Use a colon to introduce a list only if a full sentence or clause precedes it. That sentence would end with the following: or as follows: or Here are some examples: or phrases like that. Don't use the colon after phrases like The problems include ... or The members of the task force are ....

Here are two examples:

We think he should (1) increase his administrative skills, (2) pursue additional professional education and (3) increase his production.

You should expect your vendor to do the following: train you in the care of your system; offer regular maintenance, with parts replacement when necessary; and respond promptly to service requests.

When listing information in a column, follow these guidelines:

  • End the introduction to the list with a colon if it is a complete sentence, as shown above.
  • Capitalize the first word in each item if one or more of the items are complete sentences.
  • Don't end list items with a semicolon. And don't use periods or other ending punctuation on items in the list unless one or more of the items are complete sentences.
  • Put a period after the final item in all lists.

Avoid ending the introductory phrase with a verb. If that cannot be avoided

  • don't use any end punctuation after the introductory phrase before the list (as shown above).
  • each item in the list should complete the sentence, beginning with a lowercase letter and ending with a period.
  • don't put the word and after the second-to-last item in the list.

Here are some guidelines for using bullets and dashes in the list:

  • Use bullets before each item in the list when rank or sequence is not important.
  • Avoid using an asterisk (*) or dash (--) to represent bullets; most word-processing programs create bullets easily.
  • If using numbers to introduce items in a list, don't enclose the numbers in parentheses, but follow each with a period and a space.

Here are some guidelines for using indentations in the list:

  • Indent each item in the list if one or more of them develop a complete thought or contain more than one sentence.
  • If an item extends beyond one line, align the beginning of each line with the first word of the item after the number or bullet.

Here are some more examples:

The team is studying three alternatives:

  • expanding the existing plant
  • building a new facility
  • improving all existing facilities.

Here's the procedure for typing a three-column table:

  1. Clear tab stops.
  2. Remove margin stops.
  3. Find the precise center of the page. 
    Set a tab stop at center.

The vendor for your system should

  • train you in the care of your system.
  • offer regular maintenance, 
    with parts replacement when necessary.
  • respond promptly to service requests.

Listserv. A registered trademark (capitalized) for a brand of software. Use alternatives like e-mail list, Internet mailing list or Internet discussion group.

lit. See light, lighted, lighting.

literally. Overused and misused. It means "actually or in fact," not "figuratively." Consider dropping or replacing with more-original wording.

livable. Not liveable.

loan. See lend, loan.

local. See route number.

locality. Overstated. Simplify. Replace with place.

local area network. See LAN.

local of a union. Always use a figure and capitalize local when giving the name of a union subdivision: Local 587 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. Lowercase local standing alone or in plural uses: The local will vote Tuesday. Many employees are members of locals 17, 77, 117, 174 and 587. See Amalgamated Transit Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

located. Often unnecessary: The plant is in Renton. Not: The plant is located in Renton. Or: Their office is on Juanita-Woodinville Way. Not: Their office is located on Juanita-Woodinville Way.

login/log in, logon/log on, log off, log out. Use one word (a noun) for the process of gaining access or signing in to a computer system: Have you been told your login yet? Here's the new logon process. Use two words (a verb phrase) for describing the action: She was told to log on to her computer. He logged in to the database program. Everyone was logging off the network. Verb use is more common. Log in and log on are interchangeable; so are log off and log out. Don't log into or log onto.

. See the King County graphic standards (internal link) for correct use of the county logo. Also see graphic design, King County. Details on the King County logo honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

long distance, long-distance. Always use a hyphen in reference to telephone calls: We keep in touch by long-distance. He called long-distance. She took the long-distance call. In other uses, use a hyphen only when used as a compound modifier: She made a long-distance trip. He traveled a long distance.

long range. Hyphenate when used as a compound adjective: long-range plan.

long-term, short-term. Hyphenate when used as compound adjectives before a noun: The team developed a long-term regional plan.

longtime. One word.

Lost and Found. Capitalize but don't hyphenate when referring to the Transit Division's Lost and Found Office. Lowercase in other instances.

lowercase. One word.

low-. Hyphenate compound adjectives using low- before a noun: low-density zone, low-frequency speaker, low-impact aerobics, low-income housing, low-water mark. See high-.

lying. See lay, lie.

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