Skip to main content
King County logo

WAN . Acronym for wide area network. Spell out (lowercased) on first use. Avoid using WAN except in technical contexts.

Washington . Usually when abbreviating Washington, use Wash. Use WA only when part of a mailing address. Never abbreviate when referring to the U.S. capital. See state names.

Avoid using the redundant state of Washington or Washington state. But use those phrases--with lowercase state--when the context requires distinction between the state and the federal district, Washington, D.C., or the District of Columbia.

For brochures, signs and other materials to be used in only King County and adjacent counties, the name or abbreviation for Washington may not be needed. Consider dropping the name or abbreviation in street addresses that show the location of a building, facility, meeting or event. But include the abbreviation WA in mailing addresses.

Lowercase state when used as an adjective: a state map, the state flag. They visited the state of Washington. Don't capitalize state when used as an adjective to specify a level of government: state Rep. Ellen Berger, state funds, state Department of Transportation. See abbreviations and acronyms; driver license; ecology, Ecology; governmental bodies.

Capitalize state when used as a noun referring to the state government: He worked for the State of Washington. Also, capitalize the full name of state governmental units when used in formal and legal documents: Washington State Department of Transportation.

Washington Administrative Code. Spell out and capitalize on first reference. WAC is acceptable in later references--and in signs, maps, charts and tables with limited space.

wastebasket . One word.

was, were . Use was to state a fact: He was planning a vacation trip to Kauai. Use were to express possibility, desire or hypothesis: If he were to plan a vacation trip, he'd go to Kauai.

water body . Two words.

Waterfront Streetcar   The official name is George Benson Waterfront Streetcar. Call it the Benson Line or Waterfront Streetcar (capitalized) in later references. Lowercase streetcar when using the word alone. See car stop.

waters. See collective nouns.

waterway . One word.

we . Use the editorial we when it stands for the authors of a collaborative work. Some use of we is acceptable to refer to King County, the department and its organizational elements and programs, especially in quotations, opinion pieces and informal publications, and to avoid redundancy and wordiness. Make sure it's clear who we is. Avoid the pretentious use of we when it means a single person. In those instances, use I. See I, me; us, we; you.

Web standards . According to King County Executive policy: "All publications on the World Wide Web must follow current County World Wide Web Publishing standards." See King County Web Services (internal link) for more information. The King County Web Page Specifications (internal link, DOC, 188KB) require use of AP style and the King County Editorial Style Manual in producing Web page content, including the date at the bottom of county Web pages. The Web specs also refer to plain language and require that Web file content use the clearest, simplest language possible. See plain language and the King County plain-language writing guide.

Web, Web address, Web browser, webmaster, Web page, website, website manager. Except for webmaster and website, capitalize and use separate words, no hyphen. Capitalize the names of websites. Also see World Wide Web.

weekday, weekend, weeklong . Each one word.

weight. Use figures: He weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces at birth. She had a 8-pound, 7-ounce baby. See dimensions.

weird . Commonly misspelled.

well . Hyphenate as part of a compound modifier: He is a well-dressed man. She is well-dressed. See good, well; hyphen.

went on to say . Cliché. Consider using a less wordy phrase. See attribution.

Western Washington .

Westlake Station. Capitalize the name of this station in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel.

West Seattle Junction. Admiral Junction preferred. Capitalize the term, but lowercase when referring to the junction. If needed for limited space in charts, tables and maps, abbreviate Junction as Junc.

wheelchair . One word. See disabled.

whether or not. When whether means if, use if instead, or drop or not: He does not know whether the council will approve the resolution. He does not know if the council will approve the resolution. But use or not when stressing an alternative: The team will consider the change whether or not it is cost effective.

which. See that, which; that, who.

while . Avoid the indiscriminate, ambiguous use of this word for and, but and although. While is best used to mean when or as a simpler word for at the same time or during the time that. See awhile, a while.

white . A person having origins in any of the original people of Europe, north Africa or the Middle East. See race.

who, whom. Often confused. Who (like he, she or they) does something, and whom (like him, her or them) has something done to it. Use whom when someone is the object of verb or preposition: The man to whom the car was rented did not fill the gas tank. Whom do you wish to see? A preposition (such as to, at, by, for, from, in, toward, upon and with) often comes just before whom: Who does something to whom. Who is the word in all other uses, especially when someone is taking an action as the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase: The man who rented the car did not fill the gas tank. Who is still here? See that, which; that, who.

who's, whose . Who's is a contraction for who is, not a possessive: Who's on the telephone? Whose is the possessive: I do know whose umbrella it is.

-wide . No hyphen: citywide, countywide, nationwide, systemwide.

wide area network. See WAN.

wield . Commonly misspelled.

Wi-Fi . Trademark used to certify that wireless computer-networking devices will work together. When used, clarify its meaning with words and phrases like wireless, computer network and Internet access.

willful . Commonly misspelled.

will. See shall, will entry.

will, would . Often confused. Will expresses a certainty. Would is suppositional. The plan will cost $250 million means the plan has been adopted or is certain to be adopted. The plan would cost $250 million means it would cost $250 million if adopted.

wintertime .

-wise No hyphen when the word means in the direction of, in the manner of or about: lengthwise, otherwise, slantwise, clockwise. Avoid contrived combinations: The department rates high efficiencywise. Instead, say: The department has a high efficiency rate. Or: The department is very efficient.

with. See along with, together with entry.

withhold . Commonly misspelled.

with reference to . Wordy jargon. Try for instead.

with regard to . Wordy jargon. Try about instead.

women. See sex.

word processing . Do not hyphenate.

word usage . Commonly confused, misused or overused words and phrases are discussed throughout this style manual. Also check the Guide to concise writing for alternatives to overstated, pompous words; wordy, bureaucratic phrases; and redundant phrases. And check Using appropriate words in the county's Plain-language writing guide .

workday . One word.

worker's compensation . Not workmen's compensation.

work force . Two words.

work group . Two words.

workout . One word.

workplace . One word.

work plan . Two words.

works cited. See bibliographies and notes; composition titles; footnotes, endnotes.

work site . Two words.

workstation . One word. Consider using simpler desk, if appropriate.

work units . See capitalization.

workweek . One word.

worldwide . One word.

World Wide Web . If the context is clear, the Web is acceptable on first reference. Also, Web address, Web browser, Web page (all two words, uppercase Web), but webmaster, webcam, website. Use website, not Web page, when referring to a site with more than one page. Also see e-mail, home page, Internet, intranet, online, offline, Web standards.

Refer to a Web address as a Web address, not as a uniform resource locator or URL. Use the spelling and capitalization of the website owner. Instead of ending a sentence with a Web address and then a period, consider separating the address and the period with a phrase like on the Web after the address: ... www.kingcounty.gov/ on the Web.

If a Web address breaks between lines, split it before a slash or a dot (a period) that is part of the address; don't insert a hyphen unless a hyphen is part of the address.

Here's the recommended style for Web addresses: www.kingcounty.gov/property/permits/codes/growth/CompPlan.aspx (with no http:// before the Web address). Special typographical treatments--such as color or boldfacing--are optional, as are brackets or dashes that separate Web addresses (and e-mail addresses) from other text and punctuation. See underlining.

Also, the principles of plain-language apply to effective writing for the Web. The King County Web standards refer to plain language and require that Web file content use the clearest, simplest language possible. See plain language and the King County plain-language writing guide.

worn-out .

worthwhile .

would. See should, would; will, would.

writing myths. See Myths of writing.

written. See oral, verbal, written.

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