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backfill. One word.

backslash. See virgule.

back up (v.), backup (n. and adj.).

backward. Not backwards.

bad, badly. Frequently confused. Use bad as an adjective to describe a noun: The truck looked bad after the accident. The driver felt bad about what happened. Use badly as an adverb to modify a verb--to describe an action: The equipment ran badly until the mechanic repaired the control board. Unless you're referring to the senses of touch, smell, taste and sight, bad is usually the correct choice with verbs like feel, smell, taste and look. See good, well.

band names. See collective nouns.

barrel, barreled, barreling

basically. Overused and often unnecessary. Simplify. Delete or try chiefly, largely, mainly, most, or mostly.

bay. This term is preferred to embayment.

B.C. See British Columbia.

because A comma is not always needed before because. Negative wording, however, often needs the comma to clarify which part of the sentence because modifies, as in these examples: He didn't attend the workshop, because it conflicted with his work schedule. He didn't attend the workshop because he had to; he attended it because it met his needs. In the first example, you can drop the clause that begins with because, and the sentence is still true. In the second example, the sentence's meaning depends on the clause that begins with clause. See due to.

because, since Both words can be used to mean "for the reason that." Because is the stronger conjunction for pointing out a direct cause-effect relationship: They went to the Seahawks game because they had been given tickets. Since is milder in suggesting a cause-effect relationship: Since I love opera, I went to the concert. When readers might confuse since with its meaning "from the time that," use because. Also see Eight myths of writing.

bedrock. One word.

before. This term is preferred to prior to. See prior to.

begin, commence, start. Begin and start have subtle differences in meaning. Usually preferred, begin means merely a setting into motion of some action, process or course: The transit service change will begin in September. She began eating. Avoid using the stilted, formal commence to mean the same thing as begin. Start is more precise, usually suggesting physical movement or leaving a point of departure in any kind of progression: They started a journey. The boulder started a landslide. He started the truck.

belief, believe. Commonly misspelled or confused. Belief is a noun. Believe is a verb.

benefit, benefited, benefiting

benthic, benthos. Excellent examples of jargon. Benthic organisms, or benthos, rest on or live in the bottom sediment of a water body. Call them bottom-dwelling organisms.

beside, besides. Often confused. Beside means "at the side of or "next to." Besides means "also, in addition to or other than." See in addition to.

between. See among, between.

between ... and, from ... to. Don't mix these phrases like this: daily wages between $118 to $176 or from 1993 and 1996. It's either between $118 and $176 or from $118 to $176 and from 1993 to 1996 or between 1993 and 1996. Also, avoid replacing the to with a hyphen or em dash in from ... to phrases: He was chair from 1994-98. Instead: He was chair from 1994 to 1998. The hyphen or em dash substitute is OK in adjectival uses: his 1994-98 stint as chair, her Jan. 10-15 trip to Europe. See dash, time.

bi- Follow the rules in prefixes, but usually, no hyphen. See prefixes.

biased language. See disabled, elderly, race, religious affiliation, sex.

bibliographies and notes. This style manual does not yet include guidelines for formatting bibliographies, footnotes, endnotes and other reference citations. Recommended alternatives for guidelines include the Chicago Manual of Style and the Gregg Reference Manual. Also see composition titles; footnotes, endnotes.

bike-and-ride. Bike & ride acceptable maps, charts and tables.

billions. See numbers, ranges.

bills. See law.

bimonthly. Does not mean twice a month. Semimonthly means twice a month. To avoid reader confusion, use every two months or every other month instead of bimonthly (and twice a month instead of semimonthly).

bio-. The rules in prefixes apply, but usually, no hyphen. Some examples: biodegradable, biodiesel, biofilter, biosolids.

biweekly. Does not mean twice a week. Semiweekly means twice a week. To avoid reader confusion, use every two weeks or every other week instead of biweekly (and twice a week instead of semiweekly).

black. A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See African American, capitalization, race.

blog. Capitalize when part of a proper name: King County Budget Blog, RapidRide Blog. Lowercase as a common noun: The blog is popular. Verbs are blog, blogged, blogging.

board Capitalize when it's part of a proper name: the Seattle School Board. Otherwise, lowercase.

board of directors, board of trustees. Lowercase.

BOD Abbreviation for biochemical oxygen demand. In texts, spell out on all references. In technical reports, charts and tables, it may be abbreviated without periods.

Boeing Co. Abbreviate Co.

Boeing Field. See King County International Airport/Boeing Field.

Boeing industrial area Lowercase industrial area. If needed for limited space in charts, tables and maps, abbreviate as industrial as ind.

boldface. Boldfaced type is best used for two purposes: to highlight words and phrases within paragraphs and to enhance headlines, headings and subheads for articles, chapters and sections within a document or Web page. Boldfaced type can add contrast or emphasis to a document--breaking up pages or columns of gray text and calling attention to key words, phrases and ideas.

On the other hand, boldfacing everything or boldfacing too many words and phrases ends up doing just the opposite of what it's intended to do: Nothing appears to be getting special treatment. Too much boldfacing is also distracting and tiring to read.

bona fide. Two words.

book titles. See composition titles.

both Usually followed by a plural noun or phrase, but don't use it to describe more than two things. Or drop entirely: Both the Metropolitan King County Council and the City Council decided. Both councils decided. The councils decided. Also, both agree is redundant; the word agree implies two (or more) people or groups. Use they agree instead.

both ... and. When used together, both and and should link grammatically similar things. If a verb immediately follows both, a verb should immediately follow and. If both immediately precedes a noun, then so should and: He was deaf to both argument and entreaty, or He was deaf both to argument and to entreaty. Incorrect: He was both deaf to argument and entreaty. This rule is true for other similar pairs, including either ... or and neither ... nor. See either ... or, neither. nor; not only ... but also.

boulevard. Capitalize only when part of a street name. Abbreviate when part of a street address: Winston Boulevard, 3238 Winston Blvd., the boulevard. Street names may be abbreviated in charts and tables. See addresses.

boundary. Often misspelled

brackets ([ ]). Avoid using. Use commas, dashes or parentheses instead. In quotations, however, brackets may be used to show that the words in brackets were added or changed by the editor to clarify the meaning. Avoid altering quotations. If a speaker's words are clear and concise, use the full quotation. If cumbersome language can be paraphrased fairly, use an indirect construction. "We support the [Metropolitan King County] council's decision," she said. See quotation marks.

Brackets also may be used infrequently to insert words into a statement that's already enclosed in parentheses. See parentheses.

braille. Lowercase.

brand names. Use brand names only if essential to a document. Consider using a generic equivalent instead. When using them, capitalize the first letter in each word, except for unusual brand names like iPod and eBay Inc. Capitalize the first letter of those brand names when they begin a sentence, headline or heading. See capitalization, trademark.

breakdown (n.), break down (v.).

break in (v.), break-in (n. and adj.).

bridge Capitalize when part of a formal name. Lowercase when used alone or with two or more names. Do not abbreviate: Novelty Bridge construction is under way. Improvement projects were scheduled for Novelty and Whitney Hill bridges. We'll cross the bridge when we get there.

bring, take. Sometimes confused. Bring implies motion toward the speaker or writer: We bring in the mail. If something is coming to your base or office or city, someone is bringing it. Take implies motion away from the speaker or writer: We take out the recycling. If something is leaving your base or office or city, someone is taking it. Usually, the distinction is easy to make. But it might be best just to say what feels natural to you if you happen to be offering dessert for a potluck lunch: You'll be bringing it to the potluck (its destination), but you'll be taking it with you from home (its origin).

British Columbia. OK to abbreviate as B.C. after the name of well-known cities in the province: They toured the Vancouver, B.C., wastewater treatment system. See provinces.

broadcast. Use broadcast as the past tense, not broadcasted: The TV station broadcast from Marymoor Park.

building. Capitalize only when it's part of a proper name: The Exchange Building is on Second Avenue. Lowercase when it stands alone: They left the building after the meeting. Do not abbreviate unless used in charts and tables: Bldg. See capitalization.

bullets. See lists.

bullpen. One word.

bureaucratese (n.). A style of writing and speaking characteristic of bureaucrats, thought of as being full of jargon and roundabout phrases. Avoid by any means necessary. See the county's Plain-language writing guide.

Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway. Use on first reference. BNSF or the railroad is acceptable on second reference.

bus, buses. The verb forms: bus, bused, busing. Not bussed, bussing. Coach may be used as a noun to avoid redundancy, especially in employee and transit publications. Avoid using coach in materials for customers or the public.

business. Commonly misspelled.

bus stop. Two words. Bus zone is transit jargon; avoid using in general publications for customers and the public.

busway One word, lowercase. Capitalize SODO Busway; don't use E-3 Busway or Metro Busway. See SODO, SODO area, SODO district.

but. See and, but.

by means of. Wordy. Simplify. Shorten to by or with.

byproduct. One word, not hyphenated.

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