Skip to main content
King County logo

made a statement. Wordy. Simplify. Try said. See attribution, state.

magazine names. Capitalize the name. Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the formal title. Italicize magazine names if possible; underline them if not. Don't put them in quotation marks. See composition titles.

mail, mailing instructions. See correspondence.

mail stop. Two words. When giving a King County mailing address, put the mail stop on the line above the street address; do not use the M.S. abbreviation: King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Environmental Planning and Community Relations, KSC-NR-0505, 201 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104-3856. When naming mail stops without an address, spell out mail stop: Send the memo to mail stop KSC-NR-0505. See addresses, correspondence.

mainframe. One word.

maintenance. Commonly misspelled. Not maintainence.

majority. It means more than half an amount. It does not mean most. Reserve majority for describing the larger of two clearly divisible things: A majority of the councilmembers voted for the resolution. Or be specific: Fifty-two percent of the councilmembers were for the resolution. Most, however, can replace the vast majority, the great majority, a significant majority and the overwhelming majority. When majority is used alone, it takes singular verbs and pronouns: The majority has made its decision. If a plural word follows an of construction, the sense of the sentence will determine use of either a singular or plural verb: A majority of three votes is not adequate to control the committee. The majority of the houses on the block were destroyed.

-maker. Check this style manual and your dictionary for adding this suffix. If the word combination isn't listed, hyphenate any adjective or noun form, and use two words for the verb form.

make reference to. Wordy. Simplify. Replace with refer to.

male. See sex, sexism.

man, manned, manning. Outdated. Do not use man as a verb. Use staff instead or forms of use, operate, worked or run. Change: Three employees man the office. To: Three employees staff the office. See sex, sexism, staff.

manageable. Commonly misspelled.

manager. Capitalize when used as an official title before a name: Special Projects Manager Karen Drake. Lowercase when standing alone or between commas after a name: Karen Drake, special projects manager, toured the facility. See correspondence, capitalization.

mandatory. Beware of redundancy when using this word, as in Washington law requires mandatory use of seat belts. Instead, Washington law requires use of seat belts, or Use of seat belts is mandatory in Washington.

maneuver. Commonly misspelled.

man-made. Outdated term. Use artificial, synthetic or manufactured instead. See sex, sexism, staff.

manner. Overstated and formal. Simplify. Try way.

manpower. Outdated word. Use labor, personnel, staffing, physical strength, human effort, workers or work force instead. See sex, sexism.

many, much. Use many with count nouns--nouns that comprise a number of separate entities: many buildings, many cars, many dollars. Use much with mass or abstract nouns--nouns that refer to amounts rather than numbers: much salt, much courage, much help. See amount, number.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day. See Martin Luther King Jr.

marshland. One word.

Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science. Capitalize. Abbreviate as M.A., MBA, M.S. Lowercase master's degree and master's.

masthead, nameplate. A masthead is a box or section printed in a publication that gives the names of the publisher, owner and editors; the location of the offices; subscription rates; and other information. A nameplate gives the name of a newspaper, newsletter or magazine as it appears on the front page or cover.

materialize. Simplify. Try occur, develop, turn up or happen.

may, might. Both words connote possibility. May suggests a likelihood that something will happen. It may rain. Might suggests an extremely remote possibility. I might as well be the man in the moon. See can, may.

MB. Abbreviation for megabyte, which is 1,048,576 bytes. Leave no space between MB and the preceding number: 5MB of storage. The abbreviation is acceptable on first reference.

me. See I, me; myself.

measurements. See dimensions, numbers.

media. Media is the plural of medium and takes plural verbs and pronouns: The news media are resisting attempts to limit their freedom. Radio and television are popular media. Radio remains a popular medium. See press.

member of the public, member of the community. See citizen.

memento, mementos. Not momento, momentos.

memo, memos, memorandum, memorandums

men. See sex, sexism.

methanol. Lowercase.

metrics. Include metric terms when they are relevant. Use metric terms when they are the primary form in which the source of information has provided statistics. Follow the metric units with equivalents in terms more widely known in the United States. Usually, put the equivalent in parentheses after the metric figure, or make a general statement, such as: A kilometer equals about five-eighths of a mile. Except for references to computer memory storage and mm for millimeter in film widths, do not use metric abbreviations, such as kg for kilogram.

Metro. On first reference, use Metro Transit, King County Metro Transit or King County Metro. Metro alone is acceptable for later references to the transit agency. Do not capitalize every letter in Metro; Metro is not an acronym. Transit alone is acceptable on second references to the Transit Division. Also, don't use Metro to refer to the regional sewage treatment utility now operated by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division. See capitalization, King County, transit, Transit Division. Also see terminology of the King County Department of Transportation and King County Metro Graphic Standards (internal links).

Metro Employees Recreational Activities Association. MERAA is acceptable on second reference.

Metropolitan King County Council. See capitalization, chair, councilmember, county council, districts.

microphone, mic. Abbreviate as mic, not mike.

mid. Mid is both an adjective and a prefix (or combining form) that means "middle." It can stand alone without a hyphen to modify a noun but is frequently joined with the following noun: midday, midsize. Mid- (with a hyphen) typically precedes a capitalized word and figure: mid-Atlantic, mid-70s. Check your dictionary for preferred uses. Also see prefixes.

midday. One word.

middle initials. Use middle initials when they are an integral part of a person's name (as typically used by the person named): John F. Kennedy. Also, use middle initials in stories or reports where they help identify a specific person, such as in casualty lists and accident reports. See initials.

midnight, noon. Don't capitalize, and don't put a redundant 12 in front of either word. Also, use midnight and noon instead of vague, potentially misleading 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. See time.

Midnight is part of the day that is ending, not the one that is beginning. A 24-hour day begins immediately after midnight and runs until midnight. But for clarity to readers, when writing about something that begins at midnight, such as a temporary street closure, try these formats: Yesler Way, closed between Second and Third avenues, midnight to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10; Yesler Way, closed between Second and Third avenues, 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10. Also, when writing about the beginning and end of a day, say it runs from midnight Tuesday to Wednesday at midnight or from midnight Jan. 28 to Jan. 29 at midnight. An alternative is to write that something begins after midnight Tuesday, Oct. 10, and that something is due or ends by midnight Wednesday, Oct. 11, or before midnight Wednesday, Oct. 11.

might. See may, might.

miles. Use numerals for amounts under 10 in dimensions, formulas and speed: The site measured 2 miles by 3 miles. The truck slowed to 8 miles per hour. The bus gets 6 miles more per gallon. Spell out below 10 in distances: She drove eight miles.

miles per gallon. The abbreviation mpg (lowercase, no periods) is acceptable on second reference.

miles per hour. Abbreviation as mph (lowercase, no periods) is acceptable in all references.

millennium. Commonly misspelled. Two l's and two n's. The millennium was neither 2000 nor 2001. A millennium is a 1,000-year period, not a year. The year 2000 is the start of the 2000s. 2001 is the start of a new millennium. See century, decades, years.

millions. See numbers, ranges.

Minority/Women Business Enterprise. Spell out on first reference. M/WBE is acceptable on second reference. Capitalize when referring to the program. Lowercase when referring to a minority business enterprise or a women business enterprise.

minority, minorities. These words refer to racial, ethnic, religious or political people or groups. Use care in referring to specific types of minorities. See race.

minuscule. Frequently misspelled. Not miniscule. Memory tip: Think minus. Also consider replacing with simpler tiny.

minus sign. Use a hyphen, not a dash, but use the word minus if confusion is possible. Use a word, not a minus sign, to show temperatures below zero: minus 10 or 5 below zero.

miscellaneous. Commonly misspelled.

Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms. Do not use the courtesy titles Miss, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Instead, use the first and last names of the person. On second reference, use only the last name. Courtesy titles may be used in business correspondence. Plural forms of these titles: Misses, Messrs., Mmes., Mses. See correspondence, names.

misspelling. Commonly misspelled.

mitigate. Means to moderate or to make or become milder, less severe, less rigorous, less painful, less harsh or less hostile. If possible, consider using a synonym for mitigate, such as moderate, ease, soften, relieve or reduce, or define the word: The Wastewater Treatment Division will mitigate, or reduce, the environmental impacts. Also, mitigate against is incorrect. Drop against.

mock-up (n.).

modifications,. modify. Consider replacing with simpler changes or change.

money. See between ... and, from ... to, cents, dash, decimals, dollars, fractions, numbers, ranges.

monies. Avoid this spelling for the plural of money; the preferred, logical spelling is moneys. But consider replacing this bureaucratic term with simpler funds or money instead.

monorail. Capitalize Seattle Center Monorail. Lowercase monorail when used alone.

months. Always capitalize the names of months. Except for business correspondence, abbreviate the following months when used with a specific date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Spell out when using a month alone or with a year alone: The task force met in August. The task force first met Jan. 16, 1994. The task force first met in August 1994. Do not abbreviate months in datelines of business letters. See correspondence.

In charts and tables with limited space, use these abbreviations, with no periods: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

When using the month, day and year, set off the year with commas: The task force first met Jan. 16, 1994, in SeaTac. See dates.

Also, drop the wordy, redundant the month of in phrases like this: in the month of November.

monthlong.

Montlake, Mountlake. Montlake is an area in Seattle near the University District. Mountlake Terrace is a city in south Snohomish County.

more than half. See majority.

more and more. Wordy cliché. Avoid. Try often or frequently.

more, most. Most adjectives add the suffixes -er or -est to show comparison with other items--as in strict, stricter and strictest. Many multi-syllable adjectives, however, are preceded by more or most, like logical, more logical and most logical. Using both the suffix and -er or -est to form the comparison is redundant. When comparing only two items, use the comparative -er or more. When comparing more than two items, use the superlative -est or most.

moreover. Overstated. Simplify. Try besides or also.

more than. See over.

most. See all, any, most, some; more, most.

most unique. See unique.

Mother's Day.

motion, ordinance. The Metropolitan King County Council adopts motions and ordinances. A motion does not have the power of law but is used to request information. An ordinance is a law and has the power of law. Capitalize motion and ordinance when referring to a specific Metropolitan King County Council motion or ordinance, but do not use Number or No.: The council will consider Ordinance 1112 and Motion 4119 Thursday. Lowercase when standing alone. See adopt, approve, enact, pass; law.

Also, motions and ordinances of the King County Council follow some differing editorial style guidelines. Please contact Anne Noris, the clerk of the council, 206-296-0364, or Bruce Ritzen, the code reviser, 206-296-1015, if you are drafting legislation and have any questions. For all other King County documents, follow the differing styles of county motions and ordinances only when quoting them directly. See exceptions.

mount. Always spell out, including the names of communities: Mount Rainier, Mount Si, Mount Baker.

mountains. Capitalize as part of a proper name: Cascade Mountains, Olympic Mountains, Rocky Mountains. Or simply: the Cascades, the Olympics, the Rockies. Lowercase when it stands alone.

mph. See miles per hour.

Mr., Mrs., Ms. See Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms.

much. See many, much.

multi-. The rules in prefixes. apply, but usually, no hyphen. Some examples: multilane, multicolored, multilateral, multimillion, multipurpose.

Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle. Known as Metro, this independent agency operated from 1959 through 1993, when it merged with King County after a public vote. The Department of Natural Resources and Parks now operates its water pollution control functions--sewage treatment and water quality. The Department of Transportation now operates its public transit function--as Metro Transit. See Metro.

mustache. The preferred spelling, not moustache: The editor's 33-year-old mustache hasn't turned completely gray yet.

myself. Frequently misused. Use this word to refer to yourself or for emphasis: I dressed myself. I'd rather do it myself. Don't use it self-consciously as a substitute for me. Incorrect: He asked Tina and myself for a ride home. Give it to him or myself. Correct: He asked Tina and me for a ride home. Give it to him or me. See I, me.

MySpace. One word; capitalize as shown.

myths of writing. See Eight myths of writing.

Back to Top

Quick links

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