King County Editorial Style Guide
Welcome! King County launched this online style guide in 2004 to help you, other county employees, county communications staff, and county consultants use consistent editorial style. This guide also helps us write correctly, clearly, and concisely, leading to enhanced credibility with customers, clients, and the communities we serve.
This online guide benefits our readers as they use the county documents we produce for them. Its suggestions on word usage, concise writing and plain language also aid people who read at all levels of time, interest, education and literacy, including readers with limited English proficiency who use English as a second language.
This guide also helps King County staff members use their limited time effectively by answering many writing questions that arise during the workday. Use it as your first reference when you have questions about abbreviations, capitalization, computer terms, grammar, the Internet, numbers, organization terminology, punctuation, spelling and word usage. Use it to answer questions when you're writing about King County and all its departments, divisions, sections, units, offices and work groups—and their personnel, plans, projects and programs.
Please follow these writing standards in all external and internal county materials for use by employees or the general public. Affected county documents include articles, brochures, business correspondence, displays, official e-mail messages, fliers, manuals, memos, newsletters, news releases, pamphlets, presentations, reports and web pages (internal and external).
Documents produced by consultants for King County also should follow these standards.
This guide notes some exceptions or variations to some editorial style rules that might arise in county correspondence and a few other uses. Style exceptions might be appropriate for limited space in charts, tables, maps, and signs and for some established standards and practices in advertising copy, technical publications, environmental reports, and legal documents.
If used, style exceptions should be applied consistently in all related documents, and style within a document must be consistent. Of course, clarity to readers and correct grammar are always high priority in all King County documents.
Also, motions and ordinances of the King County Council follow some differing editorial style guidelines. Please contact Anne Noris, the clerk of the council, at 206-296-0364 or Bruce Ritzen, the code reviser, at 206-296-1015 if you are drafting legislation and have any questions.
For all other King County documents, follow the editorial style used in county motions and ordinances only when quoting them directly. Likewise, follow the editorial style used in other government acts, amendments, bills, charters, codes, constitutions, laws, resolutions and statutes only when quoting them directly.
Other communications resources
Standards in this guide follow preferences of The Associated Press Stylebook and other respected style manuals. See Online and print resources. Also see Background on developing the county style manual.
For more advice on clear, concise writing and answers to other writing questions, check the links below and other King County writing tools:
- King County plain-language writing guide: How to write clearly to meet the needs of your readers
- King County guide to concise writing: Concise alternatives to pompous words and wordy, redundant phrases.
Also available here are resources to aid county employees in carrying out the executive order for a Written Language Translation Policy.
Staff resources --The employee team of professional writers that developed this style guide doesn’t expect everyone to become experts on style, grammar and usage. Comments, questions or suggestions about writing or this guide? Contact one of the staff resources.
- Abbreviations and acronyms
- Myths of writing
- Guide to concise writing
How to use this guide
Select the letter that begins the term you’d like to look up, then scroll down to find the term (or use your browser’s Find function).Learn more