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For writing questions not answered in this online manual, contact a member of the style manual team or check the recommended print and online references below (external links) and elsewhere on this page:

  • The Associated Press Stylebook | Online version available by subscription
  • Chicago Manual of Style | Questions and Answers | Online version available by subscription
  • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary | Dictionary and Thesaurus
  • The New Oxford American Dictionary | Oxford Better Writing
  • Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary, official dictionary of the Associated Press
  • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) General Writing & Grammar
  • A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, H.W. Fowler, Ernest Gowers.
  • The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr., E.B. White.
  • Gregg Reference Manual, William A. Sabin 
  • Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style, Bill Walsh | Assorted Sharp Points by the author

Also see Plain-language resources, King County plain language writing guide.

Why Associated Press style?


Microsoft Word

The Spelling and Grammar tool in Word is useful for correcting errors in grammar and style as well as spelling. You can use it to check for concerns like capitalization, misused words, noun and verb phrases, punctuation, clichés and jargon, contractions, gender-specific terms, sentence length and construction, unclear phrases, and wordiness. You also can set it for punctuation with quotation marks (inside) and spacing between sentences (one).

As with Word's spell-checking function, you should review and confirm (or not) the suggested grammar and style corrections to make sure they apply, correctly, to your document and follow standards of the King County Editorial Style Manual. 

Here's how to use the Spelling and Grammar tool:

Click Review on the Word toolbar at the top. Click Spelling & Grammar at the far left of the menu bar. The tool will automatically go through your document and allow you to make corrections as needed. The tool will also provide a word count and other readability statistics to consider in your editing.


King County writing tools

  • King County plain language writing guide: How to write clearly to meet the needs of your readers—Plain-language principles can help you write clearly and concisely. Plain language (or plain English) is an approach to writing that concentrates on the needs of your readers. This clear writing approach is for public sector employees who write to and for King County taxpayers, ratepayers and other clients and customers. This guide is recommended for county website managers and authors. It also includes advice for writing documents that may be read by or translated for people with limited English proficiency.

  • Guide to concise writing: Concise alternatives to pompous words and wordy, redundant phrases—Use this guide to help make your King County documents easier to read and understand. Its three sections provide concise alternatives to overstated, pompous words; wordy, bureaucratic phrases; and redundant phrases.

  • Top 20 tips —Excerpts to answer the most frequently asked questions about the King County Editorial Style Manual.

  • King County editorial style guide (DOC, 468KB)—A summary of key entries in the County's online Editorial Style Manual. If you need a printed version of the manual, download this condensed style guide. Except for this Word document, there is no print version of the whole style manual. Updated July 20, 2010.

  • Translation resources--King County Executive Dow Constantine issued an executive order on written language translation in October 2010. The order outlines steps all departments should take to ensure that public communication materials and vital documents can be understood by the target audience—including people with limited English proficiency. This page includes the executive order and resources to help you with the written translation process.

  • Graphic standards​ -- King County Printshop Services (internal link)—Designed to create a greater visual consistency, clarity and recognition of King County government.

  • Martin Luther King Logo —Background, news and FAQ about new county logo honoring the civil rights leader; approved March 12, 2007.


Resources for King County employees

  • Disability Publications List, Office of Civil Rights, Department of Executive Services—includes information on disability language and etiquette; alternative formats; how to announce accessibility to public meetings, hearings, conferences and events; access symbols; and TTY use. Also available is a checklist for accessible printed materials.

  • King County Learning and Development offers many training opportunities to help employees polish their writing skills. 

  • King County Printshop Services Department of Executive Services—includes the County's Graphic Design Standards and Guidelines and information on getting the county logo

  • Web Services and InformationOffice of Information Resource Management—includes information on King County website goals, requirements, standards, management and development. The King County Design requirements and recommendations (DOC), state that Web-file content should follow Associated Press/King County/Metro style.

Staff resources

The employee team that developed this online manual doesn't expect everyone to become experts on style, grammar and usage. Comments, questions or suggestions about writing or this website? Contact one of these style manual developers:

Your work group's communications specialist(s) and your department's public information officer(s) also can help. Earlier versions of this manual were developed by editors of the former Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro) and King County Department of Transportation.

Background on developing the King County style manual.