Hennepin County style and writing guide

This guide provides answers to common writing and editing questions and helps to foster consistency in Hennepin County communications.

It is to be used with all public communications, including web, news releases, brochures, reports, presentations and board meetings.

Questions or suggestions?

For usage questions or if you have tips or words that you think should be added here, please contact us at pa.writing@hennepin.us.

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Word list

Use the lists below to find correct spelling, punctuation and hyphenation of commonly-used terms.

Hennepin County terms

board — Lowercase when used by itself (e.g., the board). Capitalize only when part of of the official name (e.g., Board of Commissioners).

Board of Commissioners / Hennepin County Board of Commissioners — Note capitalization. After the first reference, use lowercase (e.g., the board, or the commissioners).

  • The Board of Commissioners elects a chair, not a chairman, chairwoman or chairperson. Capitalize the term on first reference or when preceding a name (e.g., County Board Chair Jane Brown). Lowercase in other situations (e.g., the chair).

Commissioner / commissioner — Capitalize this term when used before a name (e.g., Commissioner Jane Brown). On further references, use the commissioner (note lowercase) or Brown (only last name is needed on second reference); not Commissioner Brown. Lowercase when used without a name or when listed after a name (e.g., Jane Brown, commissioner).

  • When designating a commissioner district, use a numeral and the term District (e.g., Commissioner Jane Brown, 1st District). When the district number begins a sentence, spell out the number (e.g., First District Commissioner Jane Brown).

Committees and boards — Capitalize official name (e.g., Health and Human Services Committee, HCMC Governing Board), then use the terms the committee or the board on further references.

county — Lowercase when used without Hennepin (i.e., Hennepin County).

Courts — The preferred term is the Fourth Judicial District Court. You may also use Hennepin County District Court. Use the court on further references.

Departments and offices — Capitalize official department or office name or when all or part of the name stands alone to represent the department on first reference (e.g., Information Technology Department, Office of Budget and Finance). On further references use the terms the department or the office.

District — Capitalize the word District when forming a proper name (e.g., 2nd District, 5th District, Fourth Judicial District Court).

Executive Team — Note capitalization. On second reference, use the team.

Divisions and programs — Capitalize official division or program name or when all or part of the name stands alone to represent the division or program on first reference (e.g., Public Records Division). On further references use the terms the division or the program.

Hennepin County — After the first reference, use the county (lowercase). The term Hennepin may be used for internal audiences or if the context is clear.

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) — After the first reference, use HCMC or the Medical Center. Capitalize Medical Center when referring to the organization; lowercase when referring to the building).

Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) — After the first reference, use HUP or the partnership. Note the hyphen.

Library — When describing branches, include the phrase Hennepin County Library followed by a dash then the location (e.g., Hennepin County Library — Maple Grove, Hennepin County Library — Eden Prairie, etc.).

Locations/facilities — Capitalize the official name of the building/facility, then use the terms the building, the facility, etc. on further references (e.g., Adult Corrections Facility > the facility).

  • Government Center: The official name is the Hennepin County Government Center. Use capitalized Government Center on further references.
  • Service Centers: Capitalize and include name of location (e.g., Ridgedale Service Center). On second reference use service center.
  • City Hall/Courthouse: The official name is the Municipal Building. On second reference use the building.
  • Towers and floors in the Government Center are capitalized (e.g., 24th floor of the Administration Tower, Public Service Level).
  • Rooms with names or numbers are capitalized (e.g., Board Room, Meeting Room A404, Employee Training Room).
  • For libraries, see “Library” above.
  • For HCMC, see “Hennepin County Medical Center” above.

NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center — Note capital “P” in Northpoint. Use the center on second reference.

Sheriff’s Office — Capitalized. On second reference use the office. Note: Only the elected Hennepin County Sheriff is referred to as sheriff. Other officers are referred to as deputy/deputies. The term sheriff is only capitalized when used as a formal job title immediately preceding the name of the current county sheriff.

Titles — Capitalize formal job titles when used immediately before a name, but lowercase titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas. Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.

  • County Board Chair John Jones (formal title before a name)
  • John Jones, board chair (title separated by a comma)
  • The director (formal title used alone)

Following are official titles of key county leaders:

  • County Administrator David J. Hough
  • Assistant County Administrator (Health) Jennifer DeCubellis 
  • Assistant County Administrator (Human Services) Rex Holzemer 
  • Assistant County Administrator (Operations) Judy Regenscheid
  • Assistant County Administrator (Public Works) Debra R. Brisk 
  • County Attorney Mike Freeman
  • County Sheriff Richard W. Stanek

Internet terms

  • Capitalize the following:
    • Internet
    • URL
    • World Wide Web
    • WWW
  • Use lowercase for:
    • blog
    • extranet
    • intranet
    • online
    • web
    • webcam
    • webcast
    • webmaster
    • website
  • Spell email without a hyphen.
    • All other "e" words use a hyphen between the "e" and root words (e.g., e-subscribe, e-gov, e-seminar, etc.). Do not capitalize "e" or the root word unless in a title. Never use lowercase "e" with capitalized root word.
  • Include email addresses and URLs within the text (if linking to short, intuitive URLs).
    • Good: “For more information, send an email to john.doe@co.hennepin.mn.us.”
    • Good: “Information about SHAPE is available at www.hennepin.us/shape.”
    • Not good: “For more information, click here.”

A to Z list

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

A

a lot — Two words; not alot.

academic degrees — See entries for bachelor's degree, master's degree, and Ph.D.

accept (v.), except (adj.) — Accept means to receive or agree with. Except means apart from or to exclude.

addresses — See the Grammar 101 section on numbers.

a.m. — Lowercase, with no space after first period. Include a space between the number and a.m. (e.g., 9 a.m.).

add-on (n., adj.), add on (v.) — Note hyphen when used as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb. Examples:

  • Noun: “Add-ons cost an additional $10.”
  • Verb: “To add on more features, you will be charged an additional $10.”

affect, effectAffect is normally used as a verb, meaning to influence (e.g., “Taxes affect spending.”) or to make a show of or pretend (e.g., “She affected cheerfulness to hide her concern.”). Effect is most often used as a noun, meaning result (e.g., “His warning had no effect.”). As a verb, effect means to bring about or accomplish (e.g., “We can effect change only through compromise.”).

African American — Current recommendation is to use two words, no hyphen. This term may be used interchangeably with black. But note: The term black applies to any person of African descent; African American applies only when you know for certain that the person is American and not Canadian, Haitian, or another nationality.

Ampersand — Avoid. Use and instead.

all right — Two words; not alright. Hyphenate when it precedes the word it modifies. Examples:

  • “Do you feel all right?”
  • “It was an all-right day — not great, but not bad, either.”

allusion, illusionAllusion is an indirect or casual reference to something. Illusion is an unreal or false impression of reality.

American Indian — Current recommendation is to use two words, no hyphen. Can be used interchangeably with Native American where appropriate, but follow the subject’s preference and use a more specific name (such as Lakota Sioux or Navajo) where possible.

Asian American — Current recommendation is to use two words, no hyphen.

Asian Pacific American — Current recommendation is to use three words, no hyphen.

B

baby boom / baby boomer — Note lowercase.

bachelor's degree — Do not abbreviate academic degrees in text. Use lowercase with an apostrophe. If writing the formal title of a particular degree, capitalize and remove the apostrophe (e.g., Bachelor of Arts in History). When abbreviations are used, capitalize and use periods (e.g., B.A.).

backup (n., adj.), back up (v.) — One word when used as a noun or an adjective. Two words when used as a verb. Examples:

  • Noun and adjective: “When the backup is complete, you’ll see a list of all backup files.”
  • Verb: “We automatically back up our website.”

biannual(ly), bimonthly, biweekly — Don’t use any of these words. They can mean either every other year, month, or week, or twice a year, month, or week. Instead, use the longer but unambiguous every two years, months, or weeks, or twice a year, month, or week.

black — Current recommendation is to use lowercase when referring to race. African American may also be used when it is certain that the person is American.

BlackBerry — One word. Note capitalization. Plural: BlackBerry devices (because the word is a trademark, don’t use BlackBerrys unless it’s part of a direct quotation).

blog — Preferred to weblog. Can be used as a noun, adjective or verb.

C

Calendar months — Always spell-out months, even in titles. Do not use abbreviations.

cannot — Use instead of can not whether used as adjective, adverb or noun.

Capital, CapitolCapital means wealth or assets, or a city that serves as the seat of government or specific activity. It can also mean uppercase (e.g., capital letters). Capitol refers to specific government buildings (e.g., "At the state capitol, legislators discussed capital punishment and the naming of a new capital city.").

Cc — Abbreviation for carbon copy. Abbreviation is always OK. Note capitalization of first “C” only.

cell phone — Two words, no hyphen.

chair, chairperson — Use these gender-neutral terms rather than chairman or chairwoman.

checkout (n., adj.), check out (v.) — One word when used as a noun or an adjective. Two words when used as a verb. Examples:

  • Noun: “You enter this information during checkout."
  • Adjective: “The checkout process is quick and efficient.”
  • Verb: “You’ll find that you can check out quickly and efficiently.”

city — Lowercase in most instances (e.g., the city), but capitalize when referring to the official name of a particular city (e.g., City of Minnetonka).

  • cities is always lowercase (e.g., cities of Minnetonka, Edina and Minneapolis).

citywide — No hyphen.

cleanup (n., adj.); clean up (v.) — One word when used as a noun or an adjective. Two words when used as a verb. Examples:

  • Noun: “The fall cleanup will take place on October 17.”
  • Adjective: “The cleanup project should take about an hour.”
  • Verb: “Make sure to clean up the room after meetings.”

co- — Generally, use a hyphen between this prefix and a root word unless the word is in the dictionary (e.g., cooperation, coordinate). Always use a hyphen when the resulting word denotes a shared occupation or status (e.g., co-creator, co-host, co-worker).

complement, complimentComplement means to complete something (e.g., The tie complements the suit). Compliment means to give praise.

comprise, composeComprise means to contain (e.g., The house comprises seven rooms). With comprise, the word comes before the contained items (seven rooms), and you do not use "is comprised of." Compose means to make up (e.g., Many ethnic groups compose our nation). With compose, the items (ethnic groups) come before the word.

continual, continuousContinual means often repeated, but occasionally interrupted. Continuous means uninterrupted.

county—Lowercase when used without Hennepin (i.e., Hennepin County).

countywide — No hyphen.

court — Lowercase when referring generally to the court/s. Capitalize when referring to an official court (e.g., Fourth Judicial District Court).

CSS — Abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheets. Abbreviation OK after first explanation.

D

days of the week — Capitalize (e.g., Monday, Friday) and do not use abbreviations.

daylight saving time — Lowercase in all uses. Note singular saving, not savings.

decision maker — Two words, no hyphen.

decision making (n.), decision-making (adj.) — Two words when used as a noun, hyphenated when used as an adjective.

deputy — Officers of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

disabled — Current recommendation is to not use the term disabled by itself as a noun (e.g., the disabled). Instead use the phrase persons with disabilities. It is, however, OK to use disabled as an adjective when referring to people with disabilities (e.g., “Can disabled people access your website?”).

discreet (adj.), discrete (adj.) — Discreet means to be thoughtful or reserved. Discrete means to be separate or distinct. To avoid confusion, you might want to consider using a synonym.

double-click — Note hyphen. Can be used as a noun, adjective or verb.

drop-down menu — Hyphenated when used as a noun or an adjective (e.g., drop-down menu).

E

e- (e.g., e-subscribe, e-seminar, e-gov, etc.) — Insert a hyphen between this prefix and root words. Do not capitalize "e" or the root word unless in a title. Never use lowercase "e" with capitalized root word.

east — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., east Hennepin County).

effect, affectEffect is most often used as a noun, meaning result (e.g., “His warning had no effect.”). As a verb, effect means to bring about or accomplish (e.g., “We can effect change only through compromise.”). Affect is normally used as a verb, meaning to influence (e.g., “Taxes affect spending.”) or to make a show of or pretend (e.g., “She affected cheerfulness to hide her concern.”). 

e.g., — Abbreviation meaning for example. Note periods and lack of space after the first period. Include a comma after the last period. Example:

  • “Website users scan content for something that jumps out at them (e.g., photos, headings, etc.).”

email — One word, no hyphen, lowercase. Plural: email messages and emails are both acceptable.

ensure, insureEnsure means to guarantee or make certain. Insure refers to insurance.

Ethernet — Note capitalization.

except (adj.), accept (v.) — Except means apart from or to exclude. Accept means to receive or agree with.

F

fall — Lowercase the season name. See also “seasons.”

FAQ — Capitalize. Stands for frequently asked question and generally refers to a list of such questions.

farther, furtherFarther applies to distance. Further means more or additional, but is not related to distance (e.g., "We need further discussion on the topic.").

fax — Note lowercase.

fewer, lessFewer applies to countable items (e.g. "We made fewer mistakes."). Less refers to quantities that cannot be individually counted (e.g., "If they made less noise, I could concentrate better.").

firefighter — Use this term instead of fireman or firewoman.

Flash — Capitalize when referring to Adobe Flash multimedia technologies.

flow chart (n.), flow-chart (adj., v.) — Two words when used as a noun, hyphenated when used as an adjective or a verb.

Friday — Note capitalization.

FTP — Abbreviation for File Transfer Protocol. Abbreviation is always OK. Verb usage is also OK (e.g., “Please FTP that file if it’s larger than 3MB.”).

function keys — Lowercase. Refers to the F1 through F12 keys on a keyboard.

further, fartherFurther means more or additional, but is not related to distance (e.g., "We need further discussion on the topic."). Farther applies to distance.

G

Gay — Current recommendation is to use gay men and lesbians (not homosexuals).

Generation X, Generation Xer, Gen Xer — All are acceptable. Note capitalization.

Generation Y, Gen Y, Gen Yer — All are acceptable. Note capitalization.

geolocation — One word. The geographic location of an Internet-connected computer, or the process of determining that location.

geotagging (n.), geotag (v.) — One word. The verb means to add geographic data (such as longitude and latitude coordinates) to a photo or other media file.

GIF — Acronym for Graphic Interchange Format. Acronym is always OK. Plural: GIFs. All capitals.

GLBT — Acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered. Acronym OK to use after an explanation. LGBT is also acceptable.

govt. — Acceptable abbreviation for government. Use only when space is tight. Note period.

GPS — Abbreviation for global positioning system. Abbreviation is always OK.

H

health care (n.); health-care (adj.) — Two words (not healthcare) when used as a noun. Hyphenate when used as an adjective (e.g., health-care reform).

Hispanic — Current recommendation is to use Latino or Latina, but Hispanic is acceptable.

homepage — One word, lowercase.

how-to — Note hyphen when used as a noun or an adjective. Examples:

  • Noun: “How-tos include insider tips.”
  • Adjective: “Download the how-to guide.”

hr. — Acceptable abbreviation for hour(s). Note the period. Include a space between the number and hr.

HTML — Abbreviation for Hypertext Markup Language. Abbreviation is always OK. All capitals and no periods.

hyperlink — The term is dated. Use link instead.

I

ID — Acronym for identification. All capitals, no periods, no space. Not Id or id. Other acceptable forms: IDs, ID’ed.

i.e., — Abbreviation meaning that is or in other words. Note periods and lack of space after the first period. Include a comma after the last period. Example:

  • “The program is unattached (i.e., it is not administered by a particular department).”

illusion, allusionIllusion is an unreal or false impression of reality. Allusion is an indirect or casual reference to something.

IM — Acronym for instant message. All capitals, no periods, no space. Other acceptable forms: IMs, IM’ed, IM’ing. Can be used as a noun, adjective or verb.

imply, inferImply means to suggest. Infer means to deduce from evidence. A writer/speaker implies, while a reader/listener infers.

in-line — Hyphenated when used as a noun or an adjective (e.g., in-line links).

insure, ensureInsure refers to insurance. Ensure means to guarantee or make certain.

instant message (n.), instant-message (adj., v.) — Two words when used as a noun. Note hyphen when used as an adjective or a verb. See also “IM.” Examples:

  • Noun: “She got an instant message from her boss.”
  • Adjective: “The instant-message conversation proved informative.”
  • Verb: “I’ll instant-message you when I arrive.”

Internet — Note capitalization. OK to abbreviate as Net.

Internet service provider — Note capitalization. OK to abbreviate as ISP.

intranet — Note lowercase.

IP — Be careful using this abbreviation as it can stand for Internet Protocol or intellectual property.

Irregardless — Do not use; it is a double negative. Regardless is correct.

ISP — Abbreviation for Internet service provider. Note capitalization. Plural: ISPs.

Its versus It’sIts is a possessive pronoun parallel to his, hers, yours, theirs. It’s is a contraction meaning it is.

J

Java — Capitalize when referring to the programming language and related technologies.

JavaScript — One word. Note capitalization of the “J” and “S.”

JPEG — Abbreviation for Joint Photographic Experts Group. Generally used to refer to any graphic image file produced by using the JPEG standard. Abbreviation is always OK. All capitals and no periods. Plural: JPEGs.

judgment — This is the preferred spelling (without an "e" after the "g").

K

KB — Abbreviation for kilobyte. All capitals. Don’t include a space between a numeral and KB.

keyword — One word, lowercase when referring to terms that are used on a webpage to optimize it for search engines.

kilobyte — OK to abbreviate as KB. Must use abbreviation when referring to a file attachment on a webpage.

L

LAN — Acronym for local area network. Acronym OK to use after initial explanation. All capitals and no periods.

Latino, Latina — Current recommendation is to use these terms rather than Hispanic. Latino refers to men; Latina refers to women. Plural: Latinos, Latinas. When possible, be more specific (e.g., Colombian, Mexican American, Puerto Rican).

Legislature — Capitalize Minnesota Legislature and State Legislature (meaning a specific one, such as Minnesota’s). Lowercase when used to mean any legislature and in plural references.

lesbian — Preferred term. Note lowercase.

less, fewerLess refers to quantities that cannot be individually counted (e.g., "If they made less noise, I could concentrate better."). Fewer applies to countable items (e.g. "We made fewer mistakes.").

link — Can be used as a noun, adjective or verb.

LGBT — Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered. Acronym OK to use after an explanation. GLBT is also acceptable.

login (n., adj.); log in, log in to (v.) — One word when used as a noun or an adjective. Two words when used as a verb, which may be followed by the preposition to. Example:

  • “Go to the login (adjective) screen and log in (verb).”

logoff (n., adj.), log off (v.) — One word when used as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb. See “login” for similar example.

logon (n., adj.); log on, log on to (v.) — One word when used as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb, which may be followed by the preposition to. See “login” for similar example.

logout (n., adj.), log out (v.) — One word when used as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb. See “login” for similar example.

M

Mac — Abbreviation for Macintosh. Abbreviation is always OK.

mailbox — One word. Note lowercase.

mail carrier — Two words. Use this term instead of mailman.

manpower — Don’t use. Use staff, workforce, or other words instead.

master's degree — Do not abbreviate academic degrees in text. Use lowercase with an apostrophe. If writing the formal title of a particular degree (e.g., Master of Arts in English), then capitalize. When abbreviations are used, capitalize and use periods (e.g., M.A.).

MB — Abbreviation for megabyte. All capitals and no periods. Don’t include a space between a numeral and MB.

Mbps — Abbreviation for megabits per second. Note capitalization — especially the lowercase "b," which distinguishes this from MBps, a different measurement. Don’t include a space between the number and the abbreviation.

MBps — Abbreviation for megabytes per second. Note capitalization — especially uppercase "B," which distinguishes this from Mbps, a different measurement. Don’t include a space between the number and the abbreviation.

media — Treat media as a mass noun with a singular verb, unless you can distinguish the individual mediums (modes of communication) making up a use of media. Examples:

  • Singular verb with mass noun (the media): “The media is ignoring the story completely.”
  • Plural verb with distinguishable “mediums”: “Various media are covering the story differently: Print newspapers seem to be burying it, but TV stations and online sites are highlighting it.”

message boards — Two words. Lowercase when used generically.

million — Use numerals with million. Don’t hyphenate the numeral and million, even before a noun (e.g., 2.8 million, a $3 million budget). As part of a hyphenated compound, use a hyphen between the numeral and million (e.g., a 7-million-year-old fossil).

Minnesota — Capitalize the “S” if using State of Minnesota.

minority — Only use this term when describing a group that is smaller and different from a larger group, not as a generic term for non-whites. People/person of color is preferred.

MNsure — The State of Minnesota health insurance marketplace. Note the lowercase "s."

mobile — Acceptable as a noun when it’s a shortened form of mobile phone. Mobile phone is interchangeable with cell phone.

Monday — Note capitalization.

Months — Always capitalize and spell-out months. Do not use abbreviations.

mouseover (n.), mouse over (v.) — Do not use to describe the action of holding the mouse pointer over an area of the page. Use roll, move, pass your mouse cursor over, or an equivalent phrase.

MP3 — Abbreviation for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. All capitals, no spaces, no periods. Abbreviation is always OK. Plural: MP3s.

N

Native American — Current recommendation is to use two words, no hyphen. Can be used interchangeably with American Indian where appropriate, but follow the subject’s preference and use a more specific name (such as Lakota Sioux or Navajo) where possible.

Net — Capitalize when referring to the Internet. Abbreviation is always OK.

nickel-metal hydride — Lowercase the written-out form of this battery type.

Ni-MH — Acceptable abbreviation for nickel-metal hydride, a type of battery. Note capitalization and hyphen.

non- — Generally, close up this prefix with root words unless the root word starts with a capital letter. If it does, insert a hyphen (e.g., noncommercial, nonfiction, nonprofit, non-Darwinian).

north — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., north Hennepin County).

northeast — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., northeast Hennepin County).

North Minneapolis — Note capitalization when used for generally accepted names for areas.

Northeast Minneapolis — Note capitalization when used for generally accepted names for areas.

O

OK — All capitals. Not okay, Ok, or ok.

online — One word. Note lowercase.

onscreen — One word. Note lowercase.

open source (n.), open-source (adj.) — Two words when used as a noun. Hyphenated when used as an adjective (e.g., open-source software).

opt-in (n., adj.), opt in (v.) — Hyphenated as a noun or an adjective. Two words as a verb. Examples:

  • Noun: “The opt-in has been disabled.”
  • Adjective: “Read our opt-in policy.”
  • Verb: “To receive electronic statements, you must opt in.”

OS — Abbreviation for operating system. OK to abbreviate after initial explanation. Plural: OSes.

P

Pacific Islander — Current recommendation is to use two words, no hyphen. Refers to the native peoples of Polynesia (including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga), Micronesia (including Guam, the Northern Marianas, and Palau), and Melanesia (including Fiji and Papua New Guinea).

password — One word.

password-protect — Note hyphen in this verb (e.g., “Be sure to password-protect sensitive files on the intranet.”).

PayPal — One word. Note capitalization of both “Ps.”

PC — Abbreviation for personal computer. Abbreviation is OK as long as context is clear (abbreviation can also mean politically correct). Plural: PCs.

PDA — Abbreviation for personal digital assistant. Abbreviation is OK. Plural: PDAs.

PDF — Abbreviation for Portable Document Format. Used to refer to files created by using Adobe Acrobat. All capitals and no periods. Plural: PDFs.

peer-to-peer — Note hyphens.

Percentages — Use figures and the word percent (e.g., "We had a 7 percent response rate."). Use the symbol % in parentheses or tables only.

Ph.D. — Note capitalization and periods.

PIN — Abbreviation for personal identification number. All capitals and no periods. Not PIN number.

plug-in (n., adj.), plug in (v.) — Note hyphen when used as a noun or adjective (e.g., “Downloading the plug-in (noun) will allow users to access additional content.”).

p.m. — Lowercase, no space. Include a space between the number and p.m.

podcast — One word, lowercase.

police officer — Use this term instead of policeman or policewoman. When referring to a Hennepin County employee, use the term deputy.

pop-up (n., adj.), pop up (v.) — Note hyphen when used as a noun or adjective. Two words when used as a verb. Never popup. Example:

  • “Get rid of pop-ups (noun) before they pop up (verb).”

post- — Generally, close up this prefix with root words unless the root word starts with a capital letter. If it does, insert a hyphen (e.g., postgame, posttrial, postproduction, post-Victorian).

postal worker — Use this term instead of postman or postwoman.

pre- — Generally, close up this prefix with root words unless the root word starts with an e or a capital letter. If it does, insert a hyphen. (e.g., pre-enrollment, preproduction, pre-MP3).

preventive, preventativePreventive is the original and preferred adjectival form of the verb, prevent. Preventative means the same thing and is a less accepted form. When using as an adjective, use preventive (e.g., preventive medicine).

principal, principlePrincipal is a person or thing that has the highest authority or importance (e.g., The school principal talked about the principal reason for the meeting.). Principle means a fundamental truth, doctrine, or policy (e.g., It's important to stick to our principles.).

printout (n.), print out (v.) — One word when used as a noun. Two words when used as a verb. Example:

  • “I’ll print out (verb) a copy of the article and mark my edits on the printout (noun).”

pull-down — Hyphenated when used as a noun or an adjective (e.g., pull-down menu).

Q

Q&A — Abbreviation for question and answer. All capitals, no spaces. Note ampersand.

QuickTime — One word. Note capitalization of this Apple trademark.

R

RAM — Abbreviation for random access memory. Abbreviation is always OK. All capitals and no periods.

re- — Generally, close up this prefix with root words unless the root word starts with an e or a capital letter. If it does, insert a hyphen. Exceptions: re-create, re-cover, and re-sent (to avoid confusion with recreate, recover, and resent).

right-click — Note hyphen.

RSS — Acronym for Really Simple Syndication. All capitals and no periods. Abbreviation is always OK, but avoid using RSS on its own, since many people don’t know what it means. Use news feed, RSS news feed, or RSS newsreader as appropriate.

S

Saturday — Note capitalization.

screen reader — An assistive technology (typically software) that vision-impaired people can use to hear the words on a webpage.

seasons — Lowercase the names of seasons and derivatives (e.g., springtime, wintertime). Don’t include a comma between a season name and a year (e.g., “The county email system launched in fall 1990.”).

s/he — Avoid this usage. Use gender-neutral language instead.

sexual orientation — Current recommendation is to use this term, not sexual preference.

sheriff — Only the elected Hennepin County Sheriff is referred to as sheriff. Other officers are referred to as deputy/deputies. The term sheriff is only capitalized when used as a formal job title immediately preceding the name of the current county sheriff.

sign-in (n., adj.); sign in, sign in to (v.) — As a noun or an adjective, it’s hyphenated. As a verb, it’s two words, which may be followed by the preposition to. Examples:

  • Noun: “Choose your preferences for sign-in and security.”
  • Adjective: “All visitors must use the sign-in page.”
  • Verb: “Visitors can sign in to their email account automatically.”

sign-out (n., adj.); sign out, sign out of (v.) — As a noun or an adjective, it’s hyphenated. As a verb, it’s two words, which may be followed by the preposition of. For similar examples, see “sign-in.”

sign-up (n., adj.), sign up (v.) — Hyphenate when used as a noun or an adjective. Two words when used as a verb. Examples:

  • Noun: “Sign-up is free.”
  • Adjective: “Fill in the sign-up form.”
  • Verb: “Sign up for the service.”

SIM card — SIM stands for subscriber identity module, a card used in cell phones. Abbreviation is always OK. Note capitalization and no periods.

site map — Two words.

slideshow — One word.

smart card — Two words.

smartphone — One word.

SMS — Abbreviation for short message service, used for text messaging. Abbreviation OK to use after initial explanation. No capitalization and no periods.

Social Security number — Note capitalization. Can also use SSN.

south — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., south Hennepin County).

southeast — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., southeast Hennepin County).

southwest — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., southwest Hennepin County).

spacebar — One word.

spell-checker, spell-check — Note hyphen.

spokesperson — Use this term instead of spokesman or spokeswoman.

spring, springtime — Lowercase the season name.

SSN — Abbreviation for Social Security number. Do not use SSN number.

state — Lowercase in most instances (e.g., the state), but capitalize when referring to the official name of a particular state (e.g., State of Minnesota).

  • states is always lowercase (e.g., states of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin).

statewide — No hyphen.

style sheet — Two words, lowercase.

sub- — Generally, close up this prefix with root words unless the root word starts with a capital letter (e.g., subheader, subcategory). If it does, insert a hyphen.

summer, summertime — Lowercase the season name.

Sunday — Note capitalization.

T

text — Acceptable short form of text message. Plural: texts. Other forms: texted, texting.

text message (n.), text-message (adj., v.) — Two words when used as a noun. Note hyphen when used as an adjective or a verb. Examples:

  • Noun: “Did you get my text message?”
  • Adjective: “She had a heated text-message argument with her boyfriend.”
  • Verb: “I’ll text-message you with the details.”

than, thenThan is used for comparisons (e.g., "Some education is better than none at all."). Then is used to note time or a sequence of events (e.g., "I wrote the text, then edited it.").

their, there, they'reTheir means belonging to them (e.g., "Where is their car?"). There signifies a place (e.g., "Let's visit there."). They're is a contraction of they are.

thumb drive — Two words, lowercase.

Thursday — Note capitalization.

to (v.), too (adv.), twoTo often precedes a noun and means toward or against (e.g., "He went to the store." "She pressed her face to the glass."). It also can be combined with a verb to form an infinitive (e.g., I need to write). Too means also and in excess (e.g., "I too had too many tacos for lunch."). Two signifies the number 2.

toolbar — Lowercase when used generically.

TOS — Abbreviation for terms of service. Abbreviation OK on second reference. All capitals and no periods.

Tuesday — Note capitalization.

Twin Cities — Note capitalization.

U

UI — Abbreviation for user interface. Abbreviation OK after initial explanation. All capitals and no periods.

upper-left corner — Note hyphen. Not upper-left-hand corner.

upper-right corner — Note hyphen. Not upper-right-hand corner.

up-to-date — Note hyphens (e.g., “Keep your calendar up-to-date.”).

URL — All capitals and no periods. Plural: URLs.

U.S. — Acceptable abbreviation for United States. Note periods and no space. Not US or U. S.

USA — Acceptable abbreviation for United States of America.

USB — Abbreviation for Universal Serial Bus. Abbreviation is always OK. All capitals and no periods. 

user — Because of the techie, impersonal nature of this term, consider using member, subscriber, customer, reader, visitor, or similar.

user name — Two words, lowercase. Not username.

V

vidcast —Short for video podcast. One word, lowercase.

video camera — Two words, lowercase.

videoconference — One word, lowercase.

videophone — One word, lowercase.

vlog — Short for video blog. One word, lowercase.

voicemail — One word, lowercase.

VPN — Abbreviation for virtual private network. Abbreviation OK after initial explanation. All capitals and no periods.

W

web — Note lowercase.

webcam — One word, lowercase.

webcast — One word, lowercase.

web conference — Two words, lowercase.

web feed — Two words, lowercase.

web hosting — Two words, lowercase.

webinar — A seminar conducted online. One word, lowercase.

weblog — Do not use. Use blog instead.

webmaster — One word, lowercase.

webpage — One word, lowercase.

website — One word, lowercase.

Wednesday — Note capitalization.

west — Note lowercase. Do not capitalize descriptive words that indicate direction only (e.g., west Hennepin County).

white — Current recommendation is to use Caucasian instead.

wiki — Lowercase. Plural: wikis.

winter, wintertime — Lowercase the season name. See also “seasons.”

word-of-mouth — Note hyphens when used as a noun or adjective.

World Wide Web — Note capitalization.

WWW — OK to use as an abbreviation for World Wide Web. All capitals and no periods.

X

XHTML —Abbreviation for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. Depending on audience, may require explanation on first reference. All capitals and no periods

XML —Abbreviation for Extensible Markup Language. Depending on audience, may require explanation on first reference. All capitals and no periods.

Y

your, you'reYour means belonging to you (e.g., "Your briefcase is over there."). You're is a contraction of you are.

YouTube — One word. Note capitalization of “T.”

Z

Grammar and punctuation

Capitalization

In general, only capitalize the first word in a sentence, even in subtitles or section headings of documents. All major style guides recommend lowercase style because:

  • Use of capitals harms readability – any time readers come across something unusual happening in a sentence, it slows them down and diminishes comprehension; and capital letters in the middle of a sentence are unusual. For information on how mid-sentence capitals cause problems, see the Yale style guide.
  • Capitals subtly separate you from your readers – capitalizing words is one of the most common and least effective methods writers use to signify the importance of something. But capitalization doesn’t inherently make your report or program or committee more Important. It does, however, create a barrier between you and your audience. Because we are a service organization, we should strive to connect with our citizens instead of talking down to them.

If you must capitalize words within a sentence, only capitalize the full, official names of proper nouns.

  • Capitalize formal job titles when used immediately before a name, but lowercase formal titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas. Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.
    • County Board Chair John Jones (formal title before a name)
    • John Jones, board chair (title separated by a comma)
    • The director (formal title used alone)
  • Capitalize full, official names of departments, divisions, programs and committees but do not capitalize unofficial names.
    • "He was elected to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners." (official name)
    • "He was elected to the board in 2008." (not official name)
    • "Go to the Office of Budget and Finance." (official name)
    • "Go to the budget office." (not official name)

Numbers

  • Use figures for 10 and above; spell out numbers for nine and below, even when numbers are mixed in the same sentence (e.g., “Overall, six out of 27 residents agreed.”).
  • The exception to the previous rule is to spell out numbers 10 and above when they start a sentence. However, you should try to rephrase the sentence, if possible.
    • Fine — “Twenty-five participants completed the survey, and seven were college graduates.”
    • Better — “Of the 25 participants, seven were college graduates.”
  • Addresses
    • Address numbers: always use figures (e.g., 9 Johnson Avenue, 2235 Phillips Street)
    • Street names: use figures for 10 and above; spell out and capitalize for nine and below (e.g., 300 Fifth Avenue, 300 21st Street); to make a clearer distinction between the address and street name, you can add a dash (e.g., 300 - 21st Street)
    • When used in a sentence with a numbered address, spell out and capitalize Street, Avenue and Boulevard.
    • For a mailing address, use the USPS abbreviations and the additional four zip code numbers (e.g., 300 S Sixth St, Minneapolis, MN 55487-0240).
  • Phone numbers — always include the area code and dashes (e.g., 612-348-3000).
  • Percentages — Use figures and the word percent (e.g., "We had a 7 percent response rate.").
    • Use the symbol % in parentheses or tables only.
  • Time of day
    • Always include a.m. and p.m. in lower case with no space between the periods (e.g., "The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.").
    • Do not include ":00" for on-the-hour times, even in ranges (e.g., "Services are available between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.").
    • Use noon and midnight rather than 12 a.m. or p.m.
  • Ages and dollar amounts — always express as numerals (e.g., “She is 5 years old,” $5, $75).

Dates and days of the week

  • Always spell-out months completely; do not use abbreviations or numbers (e.g., "November 22, 2010," rather than "11/22/10").
  • Do not include a comma when using the month and year only (e.g., "In May 2011 commissioners will consider the issue.").
  • Include commas after the day and the year when including a full date in a sentence (e.g., "On May 12, 2011, commissioners will consider the issue.").
  • Do not use st, nd, rd, or th after dates (e.g., "Elections are scheduled for November 2.").
  • Capitalize days of the week and do not abbreviate.

Punctuation

Commas

Hyphens and compound words

In general, use hyphens when you have more than one adjective that modifies a noun (e.g., "The mayor met with big-box-company leaders."). Without the hyphens, the mayor may be meeting with large leaders of box companies.

Dashes

  • Include spaces on each side of a dash (e.g., "Great websites are based on great content — the words, pictures, videos."

Writing and grammar resources

Writing tips

Avoid acronyms and jargon

If possible, avoid using acronyms and jargon — most of the county's audience doesn't know what they stand for. Use a full description, then use terms like the program or the county in subsequent references.

  • “The county’s adoption program is managed by the Human Services and Public Health Department. For more information, contact county staff at 612-111-1111.”

Most people are also unaware of the various departments, reporting lines, and responsibilities within the county. To them, we are all Hennepin County. Try to make the distinctions seamless.

  • “For more information on housing development, contact Hennepin County at 612-111-1111.”

If the acronym is a commonly-used term (e.g., MNDOT, CDC, A-GRAD, HERC), then introduce it with the full term followed by the acronym in parentheses.

  • "The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) is located in downtown Minneapolis."

Omit needless words

Each of the following sentences is stronger without the word in italics.

  • "In order to avoid common errors, take the time to use a style manual."
  • "Fortunately, the flaws were only cosmetic in appearance."

Don't use weak modifiers

Each of the following sentences is stronger without the word in italics.

  • "This effectively limits our ability to respond quickly."
  • "We took very immediate action."

Possessive references to groups are singular

In follow-up references to groups, use the singular its rather than the plural their.

  • "The county board decided to hold its next meeting on September 22."

Voice — active is usually preferable to passive

Voice refers to whether the subject of a sentence performs or receives an action. Active sentences are generally more direct and concise than passive.

  • Passive — "My first week in Hennepin County will always be remembered by me." (Remembered (action) by me (subject))
  • Active — "I will always remember my first week in Hennepin County." (I (subject) remember (action))
  • Passive — "When the F1 key is pressed, help information is shown." (When pressed action by you subject, information is shown (action) to you (subject))
  • Active — "Press the F1 key to see help information." (You (subject) press (action) and see (action))

Voice — there are times when passive works better

The passive voice puts the object of the sentence at the beginning, giving it more focus. In the sentences below, the objects (program participants and their goals) are more important than the subject (Hennepin County).

  • Active — "Hennepin County will administer surveys and conduct interviews with program participants to assess the degree to which they reach their goals."
  • Passive — "The degree to which program participants reach their goals will be assessed through surveys and interviews."

Lists and coordinate ideas should be in parallel form

Each element of a list is closely related and should be expressed similarly, in parallel form. To test if your list is parallel, see if each element works by itself with the introductory part of the sentence.

  • Not good — "She is capable, experienced, and often works until late at night."
    • Test — She is capable. She is experienced. She is often works until late at night.
  • Good — "She is capable, experienced, and hard-working."
    • Test — She is capable. She is experienced. She is hard-working.

Use action verbs rather than nominalizations (nouns as verbs)

Verbs are highly productive workers. They carry the action in a sentence, and they do it quickly and efficiently. When writers ask nouns to do the work of verbs, the results (nominalizations) are much less efficient. Trust your verbs to do their job; nouns have their own work to do.

  • Nominalization — "Make a revision in this sentence."
  • Action verb — "Revise this sentence.
  • Nominalization — "This report gives an analysis of the problem and determines a solution."
  • Action verb — "This report analyzes the problem and solves it."

Writing and grammar resources

How not to do it

Bureaucrat's guide to cookies (PDF)

Editing tips

Copy-editing your text is an essential final step in the publication process: even Nobel Prize-winning authors have editors.

How to edit

There are two types of editing, each equally important.

1. Editing for purpose

This big picture editing is to make sure the writing accomplishes its intended goal and is as understandable and user-friendly as it can be. Do not copy edit yet — red pens down!

  • Put your draft away for a few minutes or a few days so you can review it with fresh eyes.
  • Quickly skim the content to see if it makes sense as a whole. 
  • Review the goal of your draft. Does the piece do what you want it to do? Do the title and opening sentences match the real subject of your draft. If not, either the draft needs to be focused more closely to your goal, or the goal needs to change to match the draft.
  • Go through your text a second time and read slowly. Look for:
    • Repetition — Have you said the same thing more than once in different words? Can one sentence be omitted?
    • Unnecessary language — If it isn't critically important to your goal, take it out. Try reading it without the language to see whether it becomes more focused or more confusing.
    • Pay special attention to the beginning — It might be the only part someone reads. Can your get your main point into the first sentence, or can you write a first sentence that makes the reader want to keep reading?
    • Worry less about the ending, unless you're writing a speech or a novel.

2. Copy editing

This type of editing is to check for errors in style, grammar, punctuation and spelling.

  • Review each word and sentence. If something seems off, try reading the text out loud.
  • Have someone who has not been involved in the preparation of your text give it a final check. If you have worked with it for very long, you become blind to errors.
  • Look up anything that you aren’t sure about, such as its (possessive) for it’s (contraction for it is). There are many good grammar resources. Some easy-to-use guides include:

Actual published errors

Sometimes, even professional publications don’t do a thorough job of proofreading their content.

  • Kaine to axe Va. workers (Washington Examiner)
  • Bishops agree sex abuse rules (Irish Business Post)
  • Lack of brains hinders research (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Supreme Court upholds anti-child pornography law (Yahoo News) Did the court really uphold a pornography law that hates children?
  • How we feel about ourselves is the core of self-esteem, says author Louise Hart (Boulder Daily Camera)
  • Fish lurk in streams (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)
  • Discoveries: Older blacks have edge in longevity (Chicago Tribune)
  • Teen-age girls often have babies fathered by men (Oregonian)
  • Man shoots neighbor with machete (Miami Herald)
  • The Only Child Myth (Time Magazine)
    Is it the only myth, or a myth about only children?
  • To Everyone and Anyone who was in any way involved in my husband's passing, a Heart Felt Thank You. (Watertown Times, obituary page)

Writing and grammar resources

Plain language

We at Hennepin County have joined the international plain language movement and are committed to communicating to the public using language that is easy to understand. 

What is plain language?

Plain language is a process that involves focusing written communication on the needs of the intended audience. With everything you publish, your audience should be able to:

  • Find what they need
  • Understand what they find
  • Use that information to meet their needs

The product of a plain language process is writing that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

How to apply plain language to your communications

  • Define your audience and goal
    • Do you have a primary audience?
    • Does your audience have particular needs (tasks, questions, etc.)?
    • Do you want your audience to do something or are you trying to convince them of something?
  • Write clear, concise text
    • Have you included only the key information that your primary audience needs and nothing more?
    • Have you avoided acronyms and jargon?
    • Have you edited your text?
  • Organize and design your content to reinforce your message
    • Is the organization of your document logical and intuitive?
    • Is the key information (your main goal) right where your audience expects it to be?
    • Did you use informative headings so your readers can quickly scan to the information they need?

Print it

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) created a printable checklist to help writers craft plain language. It looks different than these tips, but the information is the same.

Benefits of using plain language

Learn more about plain language

Plain language examples

There are many effective ways to communicate your message clearly and concisely. Unfortunately, there are even more ways to fail.

Before and after

See how others have helped their audiences by removing jargon and making messages more concise. Some examples also use simple graphics instead of text.

Not so plain

Example 1

Printed on Minnesota gas pumps

"A person fueling a motor vehicle must be in close attendance to the dispenser nozzle during the fueling process."

Example 2

In a letter to someone who has agreed to donate their body for research

"Dear ___,
The receipt of your pre-death whole body donation consent form is acknowledged. ..."

Get involved

Share what you find

If you find exceptionally good or bad examples of plain language, send them to us. We will share some of what we receive.

Join the conversation

Share ideas and ask questions about language in our Writers' Block MSP Google group.

Branding and logos

This guide provides clear information for the consistent use of the county brand and corporate identity, including the official county “H” logo.

The official county logo

  • The logo must not be changed in any way (color, font, proportion).
  • The primary color of the county logo is PMS 293 blue or its equivalent (CMYK 100, 57, 0, 2 or RGB HEX #0067B1).
  • The logo may also be black or reversed out white.
  • Do not use the logo on a low-contrast or busy background.
  • It is important that the word “Hennepin” within the logo always be 100% opaque white, blue or black.
  • The logo has a minimum size for legibility and may not appear less than 3/4 inch or 54-point finished height.
  • Be sure to allow for "safe space” around the logo that is equal to the width of one leg of the letter "H."
  • The proportion of the “H” letterform and the word “Hennepin” must stay consistent.

Download Hennepin County logos

Right click on file name and "save as ..."

Color Black Reverse
Hlogo_blue.gif Hlogo_black.gif Hlogo_white.gif
CMYK.ai (AI 420KB) Greyscale.ai (AI 420KB) CMYK_reverse.ai (AI 400KB)
CMYK.eps (EPS 660KB) Greyscale.eps (EPS 660KB) CMYK_reverse.eps (EPS 638KB)
PMS293C.ai (AI 420KB) Greyscale_LowRes.gif (GIF 2KB) PMS293C_reverse.ai (AI 420KB)
PMS293C.eps (EPS 640KB) Greyscale_LowRes.png (PNG 1KB) PMS293C_reverse.eps (EPS 640KB)
LowRes_RGB.gif (GIF 2KB)   Greyscale_reverse.ai (AI 400KB)
LowRes_RGB.png (PNG 2KB)   Greyscale_reverse.eps (EPS 640KB)
    LowRes_reverse_RGB.gif (GIF 2KB)
    LowRes_reverse_RGB.png (PNG 2KB)

PowerPoint template

PowerPoint presentations given by county programs or departments must use the Hennepin County template.

Colors

An extended complementary color palette has been established in a three-tier system and should be used in all of your communication needs. Hennepin Blue (PMS 293) should be used whenever possible.

For more information, contact Public Affairs at 612-348-3848.

Writing for the web

You don’t need to be an accomplished writer to create great web content. By using neutral/objective language, concise text, and a scannable layout, you can significantly improve the usability of your web content.

Step 1: Define your goal

  • What result are you trying to achieve?
  • Do you want your audience to do something?
  • Is the website the most effective way to achieve your goal?

Step 2: Focus on your audience

Write for the 90% — most site visitors need the same few things.

  1. Identify your primary audience
  2. Find out what key information your audience needs by checking with front-line staff
  3. Create an outline with only that key information

Step 3: Write concise, scannable text

Most website visitors will not read your content word-by-word. Instead, most people quickly scan the page for key information — usually found near the top of the page or beneath headings.

  1. Strive for clear and concise — Write your text so that it puts across a well-defined concept; just what your particular audience needs, but no more.
  2. Avoid jargon — Unless you audience expects it, do not use it.
  3. Organize it
    • Put the key message in the most logical, intuitive spot — usually the top.
  4. Make it scannable
    • Break-up the remaining text into small sections of paragraphs with one idea per concise paragraph.
    • Give each small section a header (title) to break-up the page and help users scan the material. The headers should tell readers what will be included in the following section.
    • Use bullets or numbered lists if appropriate.

Step 4: Edit

Go over the text one more time before publishing. For more information, see our editing tips.

  • Editing for purpose — does your content achieve its intended goal?
  • Copy editing — check for errors in style, grammar, punctuation and spelling

Step 5: Maintain your content

Unlike print publications, web content can be edited and republished almost instantaneously. But that timeliness brings added responsibility. Website visitors expect everything on our site to be relevant and up to date. To ensure that your content continues to meet the changing needs of your audience, you need to maintain it.

Verify the accuracy of your content

  • Review your content annually to verify that the information is still accurate.
  • Check all links to verify they still work and go to the appropriate location.
  • Check all downloadable files (e.g., PDFs, DOCs, etc.) to ensure you are using the most recent version.

Find out if your content meets the needs of your audience

  • Check with front-line staff to see if they receive common questions that could be answered on your website.
  • Survey your customers to see if you are meeting their needs.
  • Ask the web team (webteam@hennepin.us) to measure how usable your content is. We can review your content and provide website analytics. We may also be able to do usability testing with site users.

About the writing guide

Public Affairs has oversight of final content and presentation of all external communication and broadly distributed internal communication by county departments, including those departments with communication staff. This oversight will ensure that county communication is planned to achieve specific results; is appropriately branded, designed and executed; and is cost-effective.

For more information, see the Hennepin County Administrative Manual.

As part of this oversight role, Public Affairs created the writing guide to provide answers to common writing and editing questions and to help foster consistency in communications. It is to be used with all public communications, including web, news releases, brochures, reports, presentations and board meetings.

How is Hennepin County style determined?

A three-person committee – each with a background in communications and language – considers common usage questions. The committee uses the following criteria to determine Hennepin County style:

  1. Do prominent style guides (i.e., AP, Chicago Manual of Style, Yahoo! U of M) agree? If so, then Hennepin County uses that style. If not, the committee moves on to steps two and three.
  2. Clarity of meaning — is one choice clearer to the primary audience than an alternative?
  3. Current county practices — will we need to retrain staff or reprogram systems?

If these criteria don’t lead to a clear choice, the usage in question is not included in the writing guide.

What if you have a question that isn’t answered by the writing guide?

Send an email to pa.writing@hennepin.us for a recommendation, or contact your Public Affairs officer for communications help.

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