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King County Editorial Style Manual - Listings - O

King County Editorial Style Manual - Listings - O

objective. Consider replacing with simpler aim or goal.

obligated. Consider replacing with simpler bound or compelled.

obligation. Consider replacing with simpler debt.

obscenities. See profanity, other offensive language.

obtain. See get.

occasion. Commonly misspelled.

occur, occurred, occurring, occurrence. Commonly misspelled. Also, use occur to refer to "an accidental or unscheduled event." Use take place to refer to "a planned event.": The power outage occurred about 5 p.m. The opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Friday.

of all. Wordy. Try omitting: Nils Johansen is the most careful driver. Not: Nils Johansen is the most careful of all drivers.

offensive language. See profanity, other offensive language.

office. Capitalize when part of an agency's formal name: Customer Assistance Office, King County Sheriff's Office. Lowercase all other uses: the executive director's office, the attorney's office.


offline. One word in all uses. See e-mail, Internet, intranet, online, World Wide Web.

off of. Wordy. Change: Stay off of the highway. To: Stay off the highway. Or use from. Change: She moved off of the campus. To: She moved from the campus.

off-, -off. Follow Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there.

off-peak. Hyphenate.

off-ramp, on-ramp. Hyphenate.

offshore. One word.

off-site. Hyphenate.

of major importance. Wordy. Simplify by replacing with is important, are important or was important.

oils. See collective nouns.

OK, OK'd OK'ing OKs. Do not use okay.

omitted. Commonly misspelled.

on. Avoid using on before a date or day of the week, unless its absence would lead to confusion. Change: The council will meet on Dec. 12. To: The council will meet Dec. 12. Use on to avoid an awkward juxtaposition of a proper name and a date: Peter met Tina on Tuesday. He told the Starr on Thursday that the project was complete. See on, onto, on to, upon.

onboard. One word, no hyphen.

on-demand service, on-demand services. Use on-demand or another descriptor—and not flexible—to refer to services without a pre-set route and/or schedule. Exception: flexible may be used in communications to, for, or on behalf of elected officials.

one another. See each other, one another.

one time, one-time, onetime. They arrived early one time (or once). But: She is a onetime winner. They were onetime colleagues.

one of the. Verbose. Drop of the or use a or an instead. Change: One of the purposes of the meeting was to select a new chair. To: One purpose of the meeting was to select a new chair. Or: A purpose of the meeting was to select a new chair. Also, don't use the illogical one of the only; instead, choose one of the few.

ongoing. Overstated and bureaucratic. Omit, or consider using continuing, developing, under way or active.

online. One word in all uses. See e-mail, Internet, intranet, offline, World Wide Web.

only. Incorrect placement of only can change the meaning of a sentence: Only David said he was hungry. (David alone said.) David only said he was hungry. (He was not hungry, but he said he was.) David said he was only hungry. (He was not also thirsty or tired or dirty or angry.) To avoid confusion, place only directly before the word or phrase it modifies. Any words separating only from the word or phrase it's intended to modify can lead to ambiguity and confusion.

on, onto, on to, upon. Use onto when two elements work as a compound preposition: He jumped onto the horse. But use on to where on is an adverb: We moved on to the next subject. There is little difference between the words on and upon, though on is preferred as more common. See on.

on-site. Hyphenate.

on the part of. Wordy. Simplify. Replace with by.

operational. Try replacing with simpler working, active, live or running.

optimum. Overstated. Simplify. Consider replacing with best, greatest or most.

or. When all the elements of a conjunction using or are singular, use a singular verb. When all the elements are plural, use a plural verb. When the subject has a mixture of singular and plural elements, make the verb agree with noun or pronoun nearest it. See and (conjunction).

oral, verbal, written. Use oral to refer to spoken words: The planner gave an oral presentation. Use verbal to compare words with some other form of communication: His facial expression revealed the ideas that his limited verbal skills could not express. Use written to refer to words on paper: The two jurisdictions had a written agreement.

organizations and institutions. Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions. Lowercase the internal elements of an organization when the names are widely used generic terms: board of directors, history department of the University of Washington.

Capitalize the names of King County departments, divisions, offices, sections, units and work groups. See capitalization.

Oriental. Asian or Asian American is preferred when referring to inhabitants or descendants of Far East nations of Asia. See Asian, Pacific Islander; capitalization; race.

orientate. Simplify. Use orient instead.

outbreak. For disease references, reserve for large numbers of an illness or a larger number of illnesses than typically expected. Can also be used to describe a cluster of illness associated with a particular area or group.

outgoing. Be careful in using this word as an adjective describing people. It has two differing meanings: One is going away, retiring or withdrawing from a place or position, and the other is friendly or responsive.

output. See input, output, throughput.

over, more than. Over usually refers to spatial relationships: The plane flew over Bellevue. More than is preferred when using figures, numbers and amounts: More than 300 people attended the meeting. The document had more than 40 pages. At times, over may seem less awkward: He is over 40. Let your ear be your guide. See less than, under.

over-. Usually, don't use a hyphen: overexert, overexpenditure, override, overspend. But see prefixes.

-over. Follow Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Hyphenate if not listed there.

overall. Hackneyed. Simplify. Delete or try total, complete or general.

over and over. Wordy. Simplify. Try again or repeatedly.

overexaggerate. Redundant and overstated. Drop over.

oversight. Potentially misleading euphemism that means both watchful, responsible care and an inadvertent omission or error.

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