affect, effect

Affect, as a verb, means to influence.

Example: The funding will affect the project.

Effect, as a verb, means to cause, and effect, as a noun, means the result.

Example: He will effect many changes. The effect was overwhelming.


Not afterwards.

all right

Never alright.

among, between

Between introduces two items. Among introduces more than two.

Example: The funds were divided among HUD, the City and MPHA. The City will divide its portion between housing and commercial development.



Awhile (adverb, no preposition), for a while (with preposition).

Example: He's staying awhile. She's going away for a while.


below-market interest rate


between, among

Between introduces two items and among introduces more than two.

Example: The funds were divided among HUD, the City and MPHA, and the City will divide its portion between housing and commercial development.


prefix: in general, no hyphen


Twice a year, semiannual


Every two years


Every other month (Semimonthly means twice a month.)


Every other week (Semiweekly means twice a week.)


Capitalize when part of a proper name.

Example: The Crown Roller Mill Building



Capitol, capital

Capitalize U.S. Capitol and Capitol when referring to the building in Washington, D.C., or a specific state capitol building.

Example: The class on how a bill becomes a law includes a tour of the Capitol.

A capital is a city where the seat of government is located. Do not capitalize.

City Council

Capitalize when part of a proper name and when it refers to a specific council but the context does not require a city name.

City Hall

Capitalize with the name of a city or without the name of a city if the reference is specific. Lowercase plural and generic uses. Minneapolis City Hall, City Hall, Minneapolis and Saint Paul city halls.

City of Minneapolis

Capitalize City when used with Minneapolis. Capitalize City when it stands alone and refers to the government or administration of the City of Minneapolis. Do not capitalize when city stands alone and refers to Minneapolis itself.

Example: The City of Minneapolis has 22 lakes. During a Snow Emergency, City staff will plow the Snow Emergency routes first. My favorite park in the city is only a few blocks away.



Cleanup (noun, adjective), clean up (verb).

Example: The pollution cleanup will take two years. The City should clean up polluted land. The cleanup process took longer than expected.


Capitalize when part of a formal name, lower case in all other cases. Commissioner Mike Opat, a commissioner in Hennepin County.


Capitalize when part of a formal name. The Council’s Ways and Means Committee meets every other Monday. The committee approved the measure.


complement, compliment, complimentary

Complement is a verb and means to add to. A compliment is a positive statement. Complimentary is when something is given free of charge.




council member

See T for capitalization rules for titles.


Capitalize County when it stands alone when it refers to the government or administration of Hennepin County.

The company moved to Hennepin County last year. You can find your property tax information on the County tax statement.

Example: The Minneapolis City Council voted today. The City Council voted. The council voted.


cross section


Cutback (noun, adjective), cut back (verb)


Cutoff (noun, adjective), cut off (verb)


day care

Two words, no hyphen, in all uses.



Use redevelopment to refer to most Community Planning and Economic Development projects, unless they are new.


Use the full department name on first reference. Do not use department abbreviations except for the Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

Examples: The Health Department launched a new health and fitness program last month. The Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) will be briefed on the policy change. All MFD employees are affected.

down payment

drop-off, drop off

       drop-off (noun, adjective), drop off (verb)

       Example: She will drop off the recycling at the drop-off location.


e.g. and i.e.

Follow each with a comma and do not italicize. E.g. means for example. I.e. means that is, namely or in other words.

Examples: The colors of the American flag are symbolic, e.g., blue represents loyalty. The colors of the American flag – i.e., red, white and blue – are symbolic.

effect, affect

Effect, as a verb, means to cause, and effect, as a noun, means the result.

Example: He will effect many changes. The effect was overwhelming.

Affect, as a verb, means to influence.

Example: The funding will affect the project.


Lowercase. Use initial capitals for Election Day, as this term is a proper noun.


Lowercase, no hyphen.

even though

Use although.

every day, everyday

Every day (adverb), everyday (adjective).

Example: Staff attend meetings every day. It's an everyday thing.


farther, further

Farther refers to physical distance, and further refers to an extension of time or degree.

Example: It was farther to the gas station than he had expected. She will look further into the mystery.



fewer, less

Use fewer for individual items. Use less for bulk or quantity.

Example: Fewer than 10 applicants applied. I had less than $50 in my pocket.

fix up

Fix up (verb), fix-up (adjective).

Example: They're going to fix up their house with a fix-up loan.

follow up

Follow-up (noun, adjective), follow up (verb).

Example: Follow-up is very important. He'll follow up the assignment with a follow-up call.

full time

Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier.

Example: He wants to work full time. She has a full-time job.

fund-raiser, fund-raising


Gaviidae Common


Always lowercase. Example: the federal government, state governments, the U.S. government



Preferred to guaranty, except in proper names. Guaranty and guaranties are banking terms.

Example: The City offers loan guaranties through the Working Capital program.




high rise

High rise (noun) high-rise (adjective)


hot spot, hotspot

Hot spot (noun) means a popular, dangerous or volcanic location.

Hotspot (noun) means a physical location where people can access wireless internet.

hors d'oeuvres


home improvement

No hyphen




i.e. and e.g.

Follow each with a comma and do not italicize. E.g. means "for example": The colors of the American flag are symbolic, e.g., blue represents loyalty. I.e. means "that is," "namely," or "in other words": The colors of the American flag – i.e., red, white and blue – are symbolic.

Impound Lot

Impound Lot, as in Minneapolis Impound Lot, is capitalized. Proper Noun.

in between


in spite

Not “inspite.”


The Association Press Stylebook now states that the word internet should be lowercase.



Not judgement.





Capitalize when preceded by the name of a state. Retain capitalization when the state name is dropped but the reference is specifically to the state’s legislature. Lowercase legislature when used generically and in all plural references.

Examples: The Minnesota Legislature began its session on Jan. 18. Both houses of the Legislature adjourned today. No legislature has approved the amendment.

less, fewer

Use less for bulk or quantity. Use fewer for individual items.

Example: I had less than $50 in my pocket. Fewer than 10 applicants applied.


Use such as.

livable, livability


low income

Low income (noun), low-income (adjective).

Example: He has a low income. We offer mortgage loans to low-income families.



See T for capitalization rules for titles.



Not misconception.



multifamily, multi-family

Multifamily (noun), multi-family (adjective)








OK, OK'd, OK'ing, OKs (not okay or O.K.)





on-site (adj., adv.)

Orpheum Theatre



Pantages Theatre



The preferred plural is people (not persons).

pick-up, pick up

      pick-up (noun, adjective), pick up (verb)

      Example: You can pick up your award at the pick-up location.


political divisions

Use Arabic figures and capitalize the accompanying word when used with the figures: 1st Ward, Ward 1, 10th Ward, 4th Precinct, the ward, the precinct.


Class is singular. A class of students is scheduled to attend the meeting. Committee is singular. The committee is meeting at 10 a.m.

Media is plural, medium is singular. The media are sure to be at the grand opening. Television is a great medium for this information.

Staff is singular when acting as a group, plural when acting as individuals. The office staff is going to work on the project. Staff are working through the night.

Data is plural. The data are available in the computer.

Police Department

If used as a formal name, capitalize police department with or without the name of the community: the Minneapolis Police Department, the Police Department, MPD. Lowercase police department in plural uses: the Minneapolis and Saint Paul police departments.

premier, premiere

premier (adjective: first), premiere (noun: grand opening)


principle, principal

Principle means a fundamental truth, law, doctrine or motivating force. Principal means someone or something first in rank, authority, importance or degree.

Example: They fought for a principle. She is the principal of the school and the principal spokesperson for the community. They are paying off the principal on the debt.


Do not use prioritize.

proper names

Capitalize common nouns such as party, river, street and west when they are an integral part of the full name for a person, place or thing.

Examples: The Mississippi River, the Republican Party

Use lowercase for the common noun elements of names in all plural uses.

Example: The Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, the Democratic and Republican parties

public housing

Public housing (general noun) is lowercase, Public Housing (specific name) is capitalized.



real estate broker

Real estate broker or real estate agent is preferred to Realtor, which is a service mark (a brand name).

rehab or rehabilitation

Use renovate (renovation) or restore (restoration) when possible. Past tense: rehabbed.

revenue-bond financing



Saint Paul

Not St. Paul


Do not capitalize.

Example: Next winter we'll start redeveloping that block.


Twice a year


Capitalize all specific references to governmental legislative bodies, but lowercase plural uses.

Examples: The U.S. Senate, the Senate, the Minnesota Senate, the Minnesota and Wisconsin senates.

service worker

setup, set up

Setup (noun), set up (verb)

Example: That's a great setup. When did you set up the display?

side yard


Do not use signage.

sign-up, sign up

Sign-up (noun and adjective), sign up (verb)

Example: Sign up for the program by completing the sign-up form.

single-family home

Snow Emergency


staff person

startup, start up

Startup (noun and adjective), start up (verb)

State Theatre

stationary, stationery

Stationary means to stand still. Stationery is writing paper.





tax increment

Tax increment (noun), tax-increment (adjective)

Example: Tax increment is funding that project. Without tax-increment financing, it would not be possible to redevelop that site. (Abbreviate to TI or TIF on second use only.)



Don't use theatre except for specific theaters that use that spelling.


time frame




Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name. Lowercase when title stands alone or is listed after the name. Make sure titles are not job descriptions, which should always be lowercase.

Example: City Attorney Michael Christenson gave a presentation. During the presentation, Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Member Lisa Goodman were also on hand. The mayor and the council member will attend future public hearings as well.

totaled, totaling

townhouse, townhome


Do not capitalize.

Two-Percent Revolving Loan Program, 2 percent loan



One word in all uses.



Do not use the word utilize.



Do not put an apostrophe before the s in the word veterans when you're using veterans as a descriptor. For example, write veterans preference and veterans benefits (not veteran's preference and veteran's benefits).



The Associated Press Stylebook now writes web as lowercase.


One word.



well-done (adj.)






write-down (noun), write down (verb)



youth (singular)

The quality or state of being young, the time of life between childhood and maturity, young people as a group, a young person.

youths (plural)

More than one young person. Example: The City of Minneapolis provides employment programs for youths.


ZIP code

We follow the AP Style Guide rule and write all-caps ZIP. (ZIP is the acronym for Zone Improvement Plan.) Also, per the AP Style Guide, we lowercase the word code.



Write out most acronyms or abbreviations fully in the first reference, followed by the acronym in parentheses, unless the meaning is clear to a general audience or the text is aimed at a very specialized audience. After the first reference, use the acronym. Do not use acronyms or abbreviations if you only mention the name once. 

  • Example: The Small Business Administration (SBA) funds the Minneapolis Economic Development Company. The SBA also funds other certified development corporations throughout Minnesota.

Add lowercase "s" (no apostrophe) when using a plural abbreviation in a non-possessive form.

  • Example: The Housing and Redevelopment Authorities (HRAs) will meet in Minneapolis.

Add apostrophe "s" in possessive forms (when acronym remains singular).

  • Example: Community Crime Prevention/Safety For Everyone’s (CCP/SAFE) main annual event is called National Night Out (NNO). On second reference in possessive form, you may use the acronym with an apostrophe “s.” Example: CCP/SAFE’s plan for next year’s NNO is underway.


After a name

Abbreviate junior or senior, but do not separate with a comma.

  • Example: Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr.

Before a name

Abbreviate the following titles: Dr., Gov., Lt. Gov., Mr., Mrs., Rep., Rev., Sen.
Spell out doctor, governor, representative, reverend and senator when the title stands alone.

Company names

Abbreviate company (Co.), corporation (Corp.), incorporated (Inc.) and limited (Ltd.) when used after the name of a corporate entity. Do not use a comma to separate.

  • Example: Northern Cap Inc.

State names

Spell out the names of all 50 United States when they stand alone.

In a body of text, use the following abbreviations (not the U.S. Postal Service abbreviations) for state names that follow names of cities or towns: Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.C., N.D., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.

Do not add the state abbreviation after the word Minneapolis.


In the Contact us section of a webpage

Follow this format for City addresses when they appear in the Contact us section of a webpage:

Building name
Street address, Room xxx
City, State Zip code


Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 200
Minneapolis, MN 55415 

City Hall
350 Fifth St. S., Room 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415

In numbered addresses

  • Only abbreviate Avenue (Ave.), Boulevard (Blvd.) and Street (St.). Spell out Parkway, Circle, Highway, etc.
  • Spell out numeric street names for first through ninth; use figures thereafter (e.g., use Fifth, not 5th; use 11th, not Eleventh).
  • Cardinal and ordinal directions (north, south, east, west, southeast, southwest, etc.) should also be abbreviated (N., S., E., W., SE, SW, NE, etc.).

Examples: 105 Fifth Ave. S., 19 Fourth St., 250 10th St. N.

When listing multiple street or avenue names

Do not capitalize streets and avenues when more than one is listed.

Examples: Meet us at 12th Avenue. Meet us between First and Second avenues.

Dates and times


When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out month when using alone or with a year alone.

Days of the week

Do not abbreviate, except when needed in a tabular format. Example of tabular format: Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat (three letters without periods).


Abbreviate all months – except March, April, May, June and July – when used with a date. Month abbreviations: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out months when date not used.

  • Example: March 1, January deadline, Jan. 1

Ordinal numbers

Do not use “th, “rd” or “nd” with numerals or dates. The workshop is Oct. 12, NOT: The workshop is October 12th.


Use a.m. and p.m. Lowercase with periods.

  • Example: We will meet at 9:30 a.m.



Spell out one through nine and first through ninth (see exceptions below). Use figures thereafter, except for very large, round numbers. Example: one bottle; 10 bottles; 1.39 million bottles; 3 million; four months; fifth place; sixth; 10th; 21st; 23rd; 32nd

Use commas when numbers have three or more digits. Example: 3,000; 30,000; 300,000 

If the number is the first word in a sentence, spell it out unless it is a calendar year. 

  • Example: Nine hundred women. 2009 was a good year. 


Use figures, spell out numbered streets one through nine: 2 S. 10th St., 350 S. Fifth St., 105 Fifth Ave. S., 309 Second Ave. S. 


Use figures. Hyphenate as shown. 

  • Example: 18 months, 14-year-old boy, the girl is 14 years old, a 1-year- old, a 2-year-old law, a 4-year-old car. 

Ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun use hyphens. 

  • Example: a 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old. The boy, 7, has a sister, 10. The race is for 12-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe). 


Use Arabic figures and an apostrophe to indicate numerals left out. Show plural by adding "s."

  • Example: 1980s, '90s. 

Dimensions, distances

Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, miles, etc. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns. 

  • Example: 9 inches of snow, 9-inch snowfall, 2,000-square-foot atrium, 3,000 square feet, he walked 4 miles, a 4-mile walk 


Always lowercase and use figures and the $ sign except in casual references or amounts without a figure. Exception: when the amount begins a sentence. Spell out and lowercase "cents," using figures for amounts less than one dollar. 

  • Example: 5 cents, 12 cents. The project cost $3 million. 


Use figures for all monetary amounts. Omit ciphers (.00) in whole dollar amounts. 

  • Examples: 7 cents, $5, $300, $9.50, $0.98. 


Spell out amounts less than one, using hyphens between the words. Example: two-thirds, 1.5 


Use figures. 

  • Example: 5 pounds, 2 oz.; 4 feet 2 inches tall. 

Millions, billions

Use figures with million or billion in all except casual uses. No hyphen. 3 million residents, $7 billion, a $2 million budget, that would cost a billion dollars. 


Write out the word percent in text, but use the % sign in charts and headlines. Always use figures: 1 percent, 2.5 percent (use decimals, not fractions), 10 percent. For amounts less than 1 percent, precede the decimal with a zero. 

  • Example: The cost of living rose 0.6 percent. For a range, 12 to 15 percent, or between 12 and 15 percent. BUT repeat “percent” with individual figures: In 2007 it was 12 percent, and in 2008 it was 14 percent. 

Do not hyphenate when percentage is used as a compound modifier (see hyphen entry). 

  • Example: Property values had a 25 percent increase in 10 years.

Phone numbers

When writing a phone number, use this format: ###-###-####

  • Example: 612-673-3000


Ampersand (&)

Use the ampersand when it is part of a formal name. Do not use in place of the word "and."

Colon (:)

Capitalize first word after colon only if it is a proper noun or if everything after colon is a complete sentence. 

  • Examples:
    • There was a special guest: Don Fraser.
    • Only one person was there: the project coordinator.
    • He promised this: The company would be solvent by spring.
    • There were many considerations: expense, time and feasibility. 

Comma (,)

Minimize use.

Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series. 

  • Example: The flag is red, white and blue. 

Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction. 

  • Example: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast. 

Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases. Note: when writing for the web, avoid writing a complex series of phrases in a single sentence. Instead, use a list format. See Content accessibility guidelines.

  • Example: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude. 

With a series of items of equal rank, use a comma if it could be replaced with the word "and." 

  • Example: She spoke in a thoughtful, precise manner. 

If the last adjective outranks the others because it is part of the noun, do not use a comma. 

  • Example: She manages a large redevelopment project. 

Use between city and state and between state and rest of sentence. 

  • Example: The mayor of Mandan, N.D., was there. 

Set the date and year off with a comma. 

  • Example: April 2, 2005, they went home. 

Do not use a comma between the month and year unless there are two months. 

  • Example: Orientation was in October 2005. Public hearings took place from January to February, 2006. 

Do not use a comma before "as well."

  • Example: She is a coordinator as well as a supervisor. 

Use company's registered name. Do not set off with commas. Example: Keefer Court Food Inc. 

Dash (--)

Use to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause. 

  • Example: I will fly to Paris in June -- if I get a raise. 

Use when a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas; use dashes to set off the full phrase. 

  • Example: He values the applicant’s qualities -- intelligence, humor and independence -- and he hired her. 

Exclamation point (!)

Use the mark to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion. 
Place inside quotation marks when part of the quoted material. Place outside quotation marks when not part of the quoted material. 

  • Example: "Never!" he shouted. Do not touch walls with signs that read “Wet Paint”! 

Hyphen (-)

Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. 

  • Example: He recovered his health. He re-covered the leaky roof. 

If a word is a compound modifier (two or more words that express a single concept), hyphenate, but if the first word ends in "ly," do not hyphenate. 

  • Example: A two-bedroom house, minimally impacted economy, pay-as-you-go financing, a two- or three- bedroom home, fifth-largest, environmentally friendly 

Use a hyphen to avoid duplicated vowels, tripled consonants. 

  • Example: Anti-intellectual, shell-like. 

Do not capitalize the second word in a hyphenated adjective. 

  • Example: Single-family homes will be built on the site. 

Parentheses ( )

Use sparingly. 

If the text inside the parentheses is not a sentence, do not capitalize the text and place a period after the closing parenthesis (such as this fragment). (An independent parenthetical sentence like this has a period before the closing parenthesis.) 

When a phrase in parentheses (this is an example) is a sentence but is dependent on the surrounding material to make sense, do not capitalize the first word or end with a period. 

Possessives (...’s)

Plural nouns ending in "s": add only apostrophe. 

  • Example: neighborhoods' needs, managers' training, VIPs' entrance. 

Nouns the same in singular, plural 

  • Example: corps' location, two deer's tracks 

Singular nouns ending in "s": add 's unless next word begins with "s." 

  • Example: hostess's invitation, hostess' seat. 

Singular proper nouns ending in “s”: use only apostrophe 

  • Example: Achilles’ heel, Descartes’ theories, Minneapolis’ schools 

Compound nouns: add apostrophe or 's to word closest to object possessed 

  • Example: anyone else's attitude, major generals' decisions, attorney general's request 

Descriptive phrases: do not add apostrophe to word ending in "s" when used primarily in descriptive sense. 

Example: Minnesota Twins infielder, teachers college, writers guide, farmers market 

Quotation marks (")

The period and comma always go within quotation marks. The dash, colon, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go inside quotation marks only when they apply to the quoted material. They go outside quotation marks when they apply to the whole sentence. 

Semicolon (;)

Use to separate elements of a series when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas. 

  • Example: He leaves a son, John Smith of Chicago; a daughter, Jane Doe of Minneapolis; and a sister, Martha. 

Use to link independent clauses when a coordinating conjunction is not present. 

  • Example: The package was due last week; it arrived today. 

Space between sentences

Use a single space between sentences.