Words and expressions commonly misused/misspelled A-I

Many of the words and expressions listed are not so much bad English as bad style, the commonplaces of careless writing. As illustrated, the proper correction is likely to be not the replacement of one word or set of words by another, but the replacement of vague generality by definite statement.
Note: The alphabetizing feature for this list is incorrect.  
Showing 311 items
Words and expressionsExplanation
Words and expressionsExplanation
10 Year Strategic Passenger-Rail Plan This is the title as published and should be used. (However, it should have been: 10-Year Strategic Passenger Rail Plan) 
12-foot width lane restrictions  
2008-2009 winter season  
2010-2014 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program After the first use can use Five-Year Program 
2-1 ratio; 2-1 majority use figures and hypens: the ratio was 3-1, a ratio of 1-3, a 1-3 ratio -- always use ratio or a phrase for clarity ... 
24/5 Motor Vehicle Enforcement safety education program 
24/7 year-round 24/7 year-round (for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year) 
25-foot-long beam ... or ... The 25-foot-long beam will be installed. A 25 foot long, prestressed, T-shaped beam will be used. (When in a series of descriptors the measurement is not hyphenated vs. a single adjective.) 
401 permit (nationwide permit; regional permit; individual permit) also 401 certification Source: FHWA (Dec. 16, 2013 J. Mohs); Federal Register July 1, 1998 (J. Mohs Dec. 16, 2013) 
404 permit (nationwide permit; regional permit; individual permit)/ Nationwide General Permit Program Source: FHWA (Dec. 16, 2013 J. Mohs) Federal Register July 1, 1998 (J. Mohs Dec. 16, 2013) 
511 Iowa’s 511 traveler information website; Iowa DOT’s 511 traveler information system; 511 travel information feature 
511 registered to the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) 
60-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep channel; The channel is 60 feet wide and 20 feet deep.  
6- to 20-year-olds  
8-by-12-foot rug AP style for the adjectival form is 9-by-12-foot, 2,200-gallon tank 
a/an Use the article a before consonant sounds: a grand event, a one-year term (o sounds as if it begins with a w), a united stand (sounds like you). Us the article an before vowel sounds: an energy crisis, an honorable man (the h is silent), an NBA win (sounds like it begins with an e), an 1870s event. 
AASHTO/American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials  
accelerated bridge construction (ABC) Not capitalized. Use ABC on second reference 
accept/except Accept is a verb meaning “consent to” or “admit willingly”; except is normally a preposition meaning “other than” or “excluding.” 
accessway One word. 
accident instead use: crash, collision or incident 
acronyms Can be used but the entire text written out on first use and the acronym placed in paretheses after and then the acronym can be used after 
administration Bush administration; Obama administration; Branstad administration 
admit  not "admit to" in most cases 
adopt, approve, enact, pass amendments, ordinances, resolutions, and rules are adopted or approved; bills are passed; laws are enacted 
adverse/averse adverse means unfavorable: He predicted adverse weather; averse means reluctant, opposed: She is averse to change. 
advice/advise Advice is a noun that means “counsel” or “suggestion”; advise is a verb that means “give advice.” 
adviser NOT advisor 
affect/effect** Affect, the verb, means to change or influence; effect, the noun, is the result, the consequence. Effect, the verb, means to bring about, as to effect change.  
after- No hyphen when prefix is used to form a noun: aftereffect, afterthought. Use hyphen when used to form compound modifier: after-dinner drinks, after-theather snack. 
afterward NOT afterwards 
agenda Takes ingular verbs and pronouns: The agenda has been approved. Plural: agendas. 
ain't ONLY use in quoted matter or special contexts. 
AIR-21 Capitalize and hyphenate the acronym for the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century. 
air bag (source: AP Stylebook; merriam-webster.com) 
air-entraining adjective 
air hole noun 
airport geographic information system first reference: airport georgraphic information system (AGIS); second reference AGIS 
All intents and purposes overused – reconstruct the sentence 
alloy-steel adjective 
all right NEVER alright; hyphenate only if used colloquially as a compound modifier: He is an all-right guy. 
a lot A lot is always supposed to be written as two words. 
a lot two words 
already/all ready "Already" means having occurred; "all ready" means prepared. 
already/all right Already is one word, but all right is always two words. Do not use allright. 
ambient-temperature adjective 
Ames complex  
among/between Prepositions; Use between to refer to a relationship involving two of something (i.e., The selection committee will choose between Chris and Carol. The competition between the two of them is fierce.; Use among to refer to a relationship involving any number above two (i.e., The ballots circulated among the committee members. Among the seven members, only two have not yet voted. 
among/between Between is used to relate two items or persons; among is used to relate to more than two. 
amount/number A large number of students attended; the amount of noise was great. 
ampersand (&) Use the ampersand when it is part of a company's formal name or composition title: House & Garden, Procter & Gamble, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. The ampersand should not be used in place of and in other uses. (Source: AP Stylebook) Note: Iowa DOT adopted the following in December 2018 (source: A. Henry). Use the ampersand in the formal name when it is not used for Iowa Code or Administrative Rules in office titles (Office of Driver and Identification Services). Less formal text: Office of Driver & Identification Services or Driver & Identification Services; Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services or Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services; Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection or Investigation & Identity Protection; Office of Bridges & Structures or Bridges & Structures; etc. Note: & may be used when it is used as a graphic element, but not in headings, titles, text, etc. 
and/or Means that either or both circumstances are possible. Use of “and/or” is not recommended because it confuses the reader. Avoid using the expression "and/or." Instead of "A and/or B," write "A or B, or both." Similary, instead of "A, B and/or C," write "A, B or C, or comibination thereof." 
Ankeny complex  
anybody/any body/anyone/any one Use "anybody" or "anyone" (one word) when making an indefinite reference: Anyone can do it. Use "any body" or "any one" (two words) when emphasizing or singling out one element of a group: Any one of them can do it. 
anybody/any body/anyone/any one Use "anybody" or "anyone" (one word) when making an indefinite reference: Anyone can do it. Use "any body" or "any one" (two words) when emphasizing or singling out one element of a group: Any one of them can do it.  
appendix/appendixes Example: The book has several appendixes. (Source: Webster [Note: Iowa DOT style = use first spelling]) (Iowa DOT does not use AP style, which is appendices)  
appraise/apprise Appraise means to evaluate, as to appraise a house’s value. Apprise means to inform, to make someone aware of a situation. 
Article (with number)  
assure/ensure/insure Ensure and insure are not quite interchangeable, although they both mean “to make certain.” Ensure refers more to things to make sure of something. (Using this method will ensure success.) Insure refers more to finances or insurance references. (Insure yourself against the cost of illness.) Assure implies the removal of doubt or suspense; ease someone's mind. (I assure you that I mean no harm.) 
as to whether Whether is sufficient. 
at-grade intersection in heading: At-Grade Intersection; sentence: At-grade intersection 
at the end of the day unnecessary – reconstruct the sentence 
auction - frequently used text Ford Police Interceptor (used 2013 model year and after - replaced the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor); Ford SuperCab 
automated vehicle technologies project/automated vehicle technologies projects/AV technologies projects  
Avenue of the Saints registerd in Iowa 
a while/awhile She will stay awhile. She plans to stay for a while. 
bad/badly bad should not be used as an adverb; unless your sense of touch has been damanged, you fell bad; avoide the good-bad association, instead use: I feel well. 
basket-handle bridge/basket-handle, true-arch twin bridges  
because/since Use because to denote a specific cause-effect relationship: She went because she was told. Since is acceptable in a casual sense when the first event in a sequence led logically to the second but was not its direct cause: They went to the game, since they had been given the tickets. Since is time related: from a definite time past to now; before the present time; after a time in the past 
Behavior Based Safety; behavior-based safe Behavior Based Safety (capitalized, not hyphenated) when referring to the Iowa DOT’s program (official name) (Source: OES 10/28/15); behavior-based safety (not capitalized, with hyphen) to other safety programs/items (Source: Mohs 10/28/15) 
benchmark one word 
benefit cost ratio; B/C ratio  
beside/besides Beside means at the side of: He stood beside the man. Besides means in addition to: Besides a bachelor's degree, he will earn a master's as well. 
between you and me never between you and I 
biannual/biennial  Biannual means twice a year or semiannual. Biennial means every two years. 
Bike Helmet, Don't Hit the Road Without One  
Bike-to-Work Day/Bike-to-Work Week/National Bike Month hyphenated (added DGF 5-2-11 from League of American Bicyclists) 
bimonthly Bimonthly means every other month. Semimonthly means twice a month. 
bite/byte sound bite/ byte refers to a group of eight adjacent bits operated on as a unit by a computer, and the word byte comes from the term binary digit eight 
bitumen commonly referred to as asphalt. Bit. (capitalized) is the accepted abbreviation. 
biweekly Biweekly means every other week. Semiweekly means twice a week. 
black-and-white (Adj.) black-and-white photography. 
blood-borne pathogen hyphenated (Source: Webster Dictionary per DGF 12/6/12) 
BNSF Railway Company in text abbreviate company 
bowstring arch bridge no hyphens 
bridge Mississippi River bridge; Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge; Fifth Avenue bridge 
bridge condition index/BCI the three separate words are not capitalized (Source: FHWA website/publication) 
BridgeWatch®  as shown (Source: usengineeringsolutions.com 6/10/10) 
bring/take bring something toward; and you and take it away – take the car to the station and bring it back with a full tank of gas 
bulb-tee girders  
business-friendly Source: See user-friendly entry (updated 1/24/14) 
Business U.S. 20 or U.S. 20 Business  either form correct 
Byways program not Iowa's Scenic Byways program -- see National Scenic Byways Program entry 
cable-stay bridge/cable-stay single bridge  
can/may Can refers to apability; may refers to possibility or permission. I have experience in that area; may I help you? 
capital Capital means chief, principal or wealth, state center of government "Des Moines is the capital of Iowa" (do NOT capitalize). When used in a financial sense, captial describes money, equipment or property used in a business by a person or corporation. 
capitol Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington, D.C.: The meeting was held on Capitol Hill in the west wing of the Capitol. Also capitalize when referring to state capitols: The Iowa Capitol is in Des Moines, and the DOT director visited the Capitol. 
cardholder/card holder One word when used alone or for the compound: cardholder benefits; two words: ID card holder, library card holder, credit card holder 
car pool (noun)/carpool (verb and adjective) Two words as a noun: car pool; one word as a verb and adjective: carpool (Source: AP Stylebook) 
cash flow two words 
CD-ROM  All caps. Short for “compact disk with a read-only memory.” 
cell phone DOT style: two words - Webster's New World Dictionary (1/17/12); (exception to AP style one word - rechecked August 2013) (Cell is an abbreviation for cellular.) 
centerline one word; a a real or imaginary line passing through the center of something and dividing it into two equal parts 
central complex  
chapter Capitlize when used with a numberal (always Arabic figures) in reference to a section of a book or legal code: Iowa Code Chapter 10; Iowa Code chapters 9 and 10; "Gone With the Wind" Chapter 2  
cite/site/sight Cite means to quote or to refer to; site means location; and sight means vision or to see. 
city limits Boone city limits 
city of Ames city is never capitalized 
Class C driver's license; Class A driver's license capitalize Class 
classroom one word 
clean-up/clean up Hyphenate as a noun or adjective, but do not hyphenate as a verb. 
code of ethics/leadership code of cooperation Capitalized when referring to XXX‟s Code of Ethics; XXX's Leadership Code of Cooperation; but do not capitalize when it is a general refernce: code of ethics, leadership code of cooperation, code of conduct 
Code of Federal Regulations Code of Federal Regulations Regulation citation - most common forms (sources: [Association of Legal Writing Directors] ALWD Citation Manual; University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation http://lawreview.uchicago.edu/resources/77_Maroonbook.pdf; ) Principle 1: The core of a citation to a codified federal regulation consists of three elements: Element (a) - The title number followed by a space and "C.F.R." or “CFR” (for "Code of Federal Regulations"); Element (b) - The section number preceded by the section symbol and a space Optional element (c) - There is no need to indicate the year of the most recent edition of the regulation, unless the year is particularly relevant. If the year is relevant, display as shown below. No punctuation separates these elements. Nothing is italicized or underlined. Examples of preferred style from the U.S. Government Printing Office: Code of Federal Regulations Citations The following describes how information is contained in a CFR citation. Title: Is the numeric value to the left of "CFR". Part: Is the numeric value to the right of "CFR" and preceding the period ("."). Section/Subpart: Is the numeric value to the right of the period ("."). A subpart is a letter of the alphabet (A-Z) that is used to retrieve an entire subpart of the CFR rather than many individual sections. For example: Subpart E. Revision Year: The four digit year from the "Revised as of" text represents the year being cited. The revision year is not always available when the CFR is cited. The following example illustrates information contained in a CFR citation. 21 CFR 310.502 (April 1, 1997) (per U.S. Government Printing Office 8/9/16)  
colocate one word; no hyphen 
Commercial Driver Manual Capitalized but not possessive 
commercial driver's license name of license is: commercial driver's license 
committees/task forces Capitalize names of specific committees and task forces: The Marketing Task Force met yesterday. Lowercase second general reference: The task force selected the guest speakers. 
complement/compliment Complement is a noun and verb denoting completeness or the process of supplementing something. (The department has a complement of 26 professors.) Compliment is a noun or verb that denotes praise or the expression of courtesy. (The vice president complimented the entire teaching staff.) 
complete streets The National Complete Streets Coalition seeks to fundamentally transform the look, feel and function of the roads and streets in communities by changing the way roads are planned, designed and constructed. The term “complete streets” was coined by David Goldberg of Smart Growth America to replace the term “routine accommodation” to express the idea of including bicycles in everyday transportation planning. In urban planning and highway engineering, complete streets (sometimes livable streets) are roadways designed and operated to enable safe, attractive and comfortable access to all roadway/street users.  
compose/comprise/constitute/include Compose means to create or put together and can be used in either the active or passive voice. (He composed one hit song a year. The math test was composed of five easy problems and six difficult ones.) Comprise means to contain or include all and is best used in the active voice. (The math test comprises five easy problems and six difficult ones. The panel comprises people from all parts of campus.) You may want to use constitute, meaning to form or make up, if neither compose or comprise seems to work. (Eleven problems constitute the math test. People from all parts of campus make up the panel.) Include should be used when what follows is only part of the total. (The math test includes five easy problems. The panel includes students from the theater department.) 
comprise/constitute Comprise means to consist of, so while a team comprises the people who work on it, those peope cannot comprise the team. Those are the poeple who constitute your team. 
congressional law (public law) A congressional session law reference consists of three parts: (1) name of the statute (or if not named "Act of [date]"); (2) its public law number ("Pub. L. No."); and (3) original section number (when discussing less than the full act). If the statute has no official or popular name, the form “Act of [full date of enactment]” should be used. The section number follows the public law or chapter number, not the name of the act. Examples: 1) Act of Apr. 25, 1957, Pub. L. No. 85-24, 3, 71 Stat. 25 (This cite refers to an act to prohibit the payment of pensions to persons confined to penal institutions for periods longer than 60 days. It had no official or popular name.) [Source: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, Harvard Law Review Association]; 2) Temporary Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-140, 126 Stat. 391 [Source: Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2011), Cornell Law School]; and 3) National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Pub. L. No. 91-190, 83 Stat. 852 [Source: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, Harvard Law Review Association].  
conscience/conscious Conscience means a sense of right or wrong about one’s conduct or motives; conscious means fully aware, intentional or deliberate. 
conservation board Story County Conservation Board; Linn County and Black Hawk County conservation boards (JMohs 10-1-15 
continual/continuous Continual means repetitious, over and over. (The continual beat of rain on the roof lulled him to sleep.) Continuous means steady and unbroken. (A continuous stream poured into the gutters.) 
co-op AP style (not capitalized) co-op as a short term of cooperative, to distinguish it from coop (a cage for animals). 
cost-benefit adjective 
cost-effective; cost-effectiveness always hyphenated (January 2011) 
council/counsel/consul  Council means an assembly for consultation or discussion; counsel means advice; and consul means a government official. 
county line lowercase, but Story County line ... Cass and Story county line 
county roads All county roads - spell out the words and use a hyphen between the county letter and number (i.e., Polk County Road F-22).  
courseload one word 
coursework one word 
co-worker Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verbs that indicate occupation or status. AP style 
credit card/credit card holder Separate words when used together; cardholder (n.) when used alone or for the compound: cardholder benefits 
creek bed  
criteria A plural word must have a plural verb: “My criteria are …”  
CTRE Now Institute for Transportation (InTrans) -- OLD name Center for Transportation Research and Education now within Iowa State University's Institute for Transportation (InTrans); CTRE includes three program: Geospatial Safety Information Systems Program, Program for Roadway Infrastructure Management and Operations and Sustainable Transportation Systems Program. 
data A plural word must have a plural verb: “… data represent …” 
database One word as a noun and adjective. 
date ranges Example: period of July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, for a  
dates Wednesday, Dec. 8, ...; Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2009, ...; December 2009; July 1, 2001, through Jan. 31, 2010 (Source AP 2-5-14) 
daylight-saving time Not savings. Use the hyphen. When the term is used with the name of a time zone, use only the word daylight: Eastern Daylight Time, Pacific Daylight Time, etc. Lowercase daylight-saving time in all uses and daylight time whenever it stands alone. AP Style 
daylong one word 
decision-maker; decision-making hyphenate any noun or adjective forms (source: AP) (DOT style revised 8/23/12 jam) 
deicing/deiced no hyphen 
department only capitalize when used as part of a name; lowercase the word department 
DERA Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grant program (source: S. Anderson 2-14-18) 
Desert/Dessert Desert can mean arid or barren land or to abandon; dessert is the last course of a meal. 
dew/do/due Dew is the moisture condensed from the atmosphere; do means to perform or execute; and due means owed or owing. 
disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) [when not mentioning the program]; Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) Program/DBE Program [when writing about the program]  A business owned and operated by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Socially and economically disadvantaged individuals include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans or Asian Indian Americans and any other minorities or individuals found to be disadvantaged by the Small Business Administration under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act.  
disinterested/uninterested Disinterested refers to someone who doesn't care enough to have a strong opinion. Uninterested means doesn't care. 
district office if used as a specific district office: District 2 Office 
district planners  
do's and don'ts AP style 
DOTNET Iowa DOT's intranet -- capital DOTNET (2/7/12 per PPM) 
driver's license/driver's licenses singular/plural Do not use DL as an abbreviation (Source: A. Henry August 2013) 
driver's license examiner not drivers license examiner 
driver's license station Examples when writing about driver's license: ... Iowa DOT driver's license station or participating county treasurer's office ...; ... any Iowa driver's license issuance site ... Example when writing about vehicle registration: ... the Iowa DOT or county treasurer's office 
drop-down menu  
due to/due to the fact that Incorrectly used for through, because of, or owing to, in adverbial phrases: “He lost the first game due to carelessness.” In correct use related as predicate or as modifier to a particular noun: “This invention is due to Edison”; “losses due to preventable fires.”  
E85 no hyphen 
e-Construction e-Construction is a paperless construction administration delivery process that includes electronic submission of all construction documentation by all stakeholders, electronic document routing/approvals (e-signature), and digital management of all construction documentation in a secure environment allowing distribution to all project stakeholders through mobile devices. (Source: FHWA 8-10-15) 
effect/affect ***Effect as a noun, means result; as verb, means to bring about, accomplish (not to be confused with affect, which means “to influence”). 
e.g./i.e. The abbreviation e.g. is for the Latin exempli gratia, “for example.” The abbreviation i.e., Latin id est, means “that is.” They’re not interchangeable. Both abbreviations should be followed by a comma. 
elicit/illicit "Elicit" (verb) means to bring out or draw forth: Questions were designed to elicit straightforward responses. "Illicit" (adjective) means improper or illegal: an illicit love affair; illicit traffic in drugs. 
eligible/illegible Eligible means fit to be chosen or legally qualified; illegible means impossible or hard to read, especially because of poor handwriting. 
email not capitalized; not hyphenated (as of 2/7/12) (Note: before 3/23/11 it was capitalized when used as a noun, but not capitalized when used as a verb 
Employer Identification Number (EIN) Also known as Federal Employer Identification Number or FEIN. (source: Internal Revenue Service - http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html per DGF 1/11/12) 
end loader two words 
Engineering Bureau  
ensure/insure/assure Ensure and insure are not quite interchangeable, although they both mean “to make certain.” Ensure refers more to things to make sure of something. (Using this method will ensure success.) Insure refers more to finances or insurance references. (Insure yourself against the cost of illness.) Assure implies the removal of doubt or suspense; ease someone's mind. (I assure you that I mean no harm.) 
entitled Entitled means to have a right to something. Don’t use it in reference to the name of a book, play, etc. (The presentation was titled “Learning the Personal Computer.”) 
environmental assessment (EA)  
environmental impact statement (EIS) Lowercase the generic document title and capitalize the acronym. This also applies to draft and final statements. 
Essential Air Service program EAS program 
et al means "and others" Latin et alii (masculine), et aliae (feminine), or et alia (neuter) Note: no periods 
etc. Literal translation is “and other things.” Use and others, so forth or and so on in copy. Don’t use any of these, however, in a series that begins with for example. In this case, etc. is appropriate. Lists introduced with such as or including don’t need etc. because it’s assumed there are other items besides that listed. 
everyday/every day Use "everyday" as an adjective: Everyday low prices. Use "every day" as an adverb: He goes to class everyday. 
everyone/every one Use "everyone" to refer to all people: Everyone went to the football game. Use "every one" when referring to individual items: Every one of the buildings has been renovated. 
executive order; executive orders; Executive Order 10925; Executive Orders 10925 and 10926 Example: A presidential executive order was signed today. Citation: Executive Order 1316 of Aug. 11, 2000; Executive Order 13166 of Aug. 11, 2000 – Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency 
exit lowercase (i.e., exit 220) 
fare box two words; fare box revenue 
farm-to-market road Lowercase farm-to-market road. Example: In Iowa, a farm-to-market road means those county jurisdiction intracounty and intercounty roads which service principal traffic generating areas and connect such areas to other farm-to-market roads and primary roads. However, these are capitalized: Farm-to-Market Road Fund, Farm-to-Market Road System, Farm-to-Market Review Board 
farther/further Farther refers to physical distance. (Ted said he could run farther than Jake.) Further refers to time or degree. (Jake’s mother said there would be no further discussions.) 
fax It is fax, not FAX. 
federal-aid revenues adjective 
federal-aid swap, Federal-Aid Swap Policy Hyphenated in all cases; capitalized only when Federal-Aid Swap Policy (Source: S. Anderson, S. Wallace as of 2-7-18) (Note: replaces the nonhyphenated version that was used between 9-25-17 and 2-7-18) 
fewer/less Use fewer when there are countable items; use less when not countable. We had fewer students last year with less confusion, less water. Use number when there are countable items; use amount when not countable. Use less with singular noun; use fewer with plural nouns. (We need less coffee and fewer donuts.) 
Fields of Opportunity State of Iowa, designed by Iowa DOT 
firefighter AP style 
firewall/fire wall Firewall is one word when referring to software; fire wall is two words when referring to a fire wall in the building. 
first aid/first aid kit/first aid training  
first come, first served; first-come, first-served The phrase is made up of two compounded (but not equal) elements; always in this order. Unequal elements must be separated by some kind of punctuation and the only logical candidate is a comma: first come, first serve(d). Compounded elements are adjectival and participial; they describe someone who has come; and someone who will be served. This shifts from the active to the passive, but both parts are past participles. The past participles of the verbs in question are come and served. Thus, first come, first served. Use of hyphens depends on if it’s a noun, no hyphens needed (The policy is first come, first served.). An adjective before a noun, insert hyphens to eliminate ambiguity ("The first-come, first-served policy should be clear."). Hyphens attach the firsts to the participles instead of to the noun policy." Source: https://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/grammar/Adject3.html 11/17/15 
fiscal year/FY first reference in text spell out and then use FY; FY can be used in headline; FY 2010 (with space after FY). NOTE: In charts or tables where space is limited, can use FY10. FY07-12 
Five E's Five E's are education, enforcement, engineering, emergency response, and everyone (Notes: These words are not capitalized, but can be put in bold text for empahsize.) 
fix In writing restrict it to its literary senses, fasten, make firm or immovable, etc. 
Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act  After first use can use FAST Act (Source: D. Franklin 12/10/15) 
flier/flyer The proper name of some trains and buses (The Western Flyer) or an advertising poster or handbill. 
follow-up/follow up "Follow-up" can be used as a noun meaning the act or instance of following up: I have the follow up on the patient. Follow-up can also be used as an adjective meaning relating to or being something that follows up: The follow-up report was lost in the mail. "Follow up" should be used as a verb meaning to pursue or maintain contact in an effort to take further action: The police follow up every possible lead. 
for-hire/for-hire carrier/for hire operated for-hire; for-hire carrier/ company for hire ... 
form Examples: Iowa Department of Transportation Form 810013, xxxxxxxxx; Iowa DOT Form 810050, Harvesting and Mowing Permit Application, ...; Harvesting and Mowing Permit Application, Iowa DOT Form 810050, ...; Iowa DOT's Form 1234; ... Form 4567 ... 
formally/formerly Formally means in a formal manner; formerly means previously. 
free gifts Do not use this phrase because all gifts are free – just use gifts. 
freeze-thaw cycle  
fuel-efficient/fuel efficency  
full time (n.)/full-time Hyphenate when used as a compound modifier. (She is a full-time engineering student. He also goes to class full time.) 
fundraising/fundraising/fundraiser AS OF 1/2011: one word all uses (AP). OLD VERSION PRIOR TO 1/2011: The first is a noun, the second an adjective, the third a noun: The banquet was for fund raising. We had a fund-raising dinner. The marathon was a fund-raiser. 
general counsel Capitalize if you are referring to the office. 
General Fund federal General Fund or state General Fund or Iowa General Fund 
general public/public The word public refers to people as a whole. It should be used instead of the phrase “general public,” which negatively infers class distinction. Be cautious and avoid phrases like, “regular, common or ordinary citizens,” which again all infer some type of class distinction or an inferiority or superiority among groups or individuals. 
geo  geo- as a combining form meaning of the earth or geographical. It's not hyphenated except in the case of a double-o formation. Examples: geoengineering, geoinfrastructure 
GIS/AVL system first reference: geographic positioning system (GIS) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) system; after first reference: GIS/AVL system (Source: INSIDE November 2012) 
Good Roads Movement  
good/well "Good" is an adjective that means something is as it should be or is better than average: The soup smells good. The music sounds good. When used as an adjective, "well" means healthy. When used as an adverb, "well" means in a satisfactory manner or skillfully: The machine runs well. He did well on his entrance exam. 
government always lowercase, unless part of an agency or committee name; never abbreviate. 
Governor's Office  
governor's proclamation of disaster emergency phrase is not capitalized (Source: Gov. Branstad's news releases JM 5/16/17) 
Governor Terry E. Branstad  
Green Book The official title of this book is: "A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets." This book is published by AASHTO and contains accepted practices for designing the physical features of a roadway. Examples of these features are: sight distance, design speeds, lane width, horizontal and vertical curves, etc. 
handheld noun; hand-held adj.  
hands-free mobile app  
hard copy two words 
hazard communications lowercase if not part of a complete title (Source: Mohs 11/2009 
hazardous communication  not capitalized (August 2010) 
head-to-head Use related to traffic changes. Can also use something like this example: Construction of three bridges in the northbound lanes of I-29 in Mills County near Glenwood, between mileposts 31 and 39, has traffic shifted to one lane in each direction in the southbound lanes.  
high bandwidth fiber optic no hyphens 
high-performance concrete  
high-performance steel  
high-speed rail  
high-tension median cable barrier  
Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund 
Highway Division  
Highway Helper  
highway-rail grade crossing and trespass prevention program(s) An umbrella term referring to various safety and prevention programs administered by the Highway-Grade Crossing and Trespasser Prevention Division of FRA. 
historic/historical A historic event is an important occurrence, one that stands out in history. Any occurrence in the past is a historical event. Memory tricks: To remember the meanings of these two words by thinking that “ic” is “important,” and they both start with i, and “al” is “all in the past” 
home page two words 
home-school, home-schooled home-school (verb); home-schooled (adj) (Source: AP 10/27/14) 
home schooling, home-schooler nouns (Source: AP 10/27/14) 
home schooling (n); home-schooler (n); home-school (v); home-schooled (adj) Source: AP updated entry 2009; as of 1-23-14 
hope/hopefully Hopefully is an adverb (modifies a verb): NOT Hopefully I can attend the meeting. BETTER: I hope to attend the meeting. 
however In the meaning nevertheless, however should not come first in a sentence or clause. Incorrect: The roads were almost impassable. However, we at last succeeded in reaching camp. Correct: The roads were almost impassable. At last, however, we succeeded in reaching camp. When however comes first, it means in whatever way or to whatever extent. Incorrect: However you advise him, he will probably do as he thinks best. Correct: However discouraging the prospect, he never lost heart. 
H-piling hyphenated; capital H 
identification card/identification card holder Separate words when used together; cardholder (n.) when used alone or for the compound: cardholder benefits 
i.e./e.g. The abbreviation i.e. stands simply for "that is," which written out fully in Latin is 'id est'. "i.e." is used in place of "in other words," or "it/that is." It specifies or makes more clear. Use a comma to after: i.e., xxxxxx or e.g., xxxx The abbreviation e.g. is for the Latin exempli gratia, “for example.” Note: i.e. and e.g. are not interchangeable. Both abbreviations should be followed by a comma. 
Implied Consent law law is lowercase 
imply/infer When you imply, you suggest or indicate something. Are you trying to imply something? When you infer, you deduce or draw a conclusion from evidence. 
Inc. Abbreviation for "incorporated." Usually not needed, but abbreviate and capitalize when used as a part of a corporate name. Do not set off with commas: Viva Health Inc. is part of the UAB Health System. 
industrial park do not capitalize unless it is a name of a specific industrial park (example: Spirit Industrial Park) 
infer/imply When you imply, you suggest or indicate something. Are you trying to imply something? When you infer, you deduce or draw a conclusion from evidence. 
inferior to Persons and things are said to be inferior "to" others, not inferior "than" others. 
Information Technology Division  
infrastructure condition evaluation (ICE) common noun lower case; proper noun (name of the report) Iowa Infrastructure Condition Evaluation 
inland waterway system When used generically and not as a proper noun, no capitalization: inland waterway system; U.S. inland waterway system; America’s inland waterway system; navigable inland waterways; inland navigation; intracoastal waterway system; fuel-taxed inland waterway system. When referring to a specific waterway system, capitalize: Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway; Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW); Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. When referring to the trust fund: Inland Waterways Trust Fund. When referring to the Maritime Transportation System (MTS), capitalize. When referring to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, capitalize. 
in order to Rarely necessary, use "to" instead. 
inpatient one word 
inside As a preposition, "inside" doesn't have to be followed by "of": She remained inside the house. 
insure/assure/ensure Ensure and insure are not quite interchangeable, although they both mean “to make certain.” Ensure refers more to things to make sure of something. (Using this method will ensure success.) Insure refers more to finances or insurance references. (Insure yourself against the cost of illness.) Assure implies the removal of doubt or suspense; ease someone's mind. (I assure you that I mean no harm.) 
intelligent transportation system The words are not capitalized. The acronym for this is: ITS. (Note: NOT systems) Examples: Council Bluffs intelligent transportation system (ITS) project; ITS network. 
internet lowercase "i" (Source: AP style as of 6/1/16 -- note before then it was capitalized) 
interstate When used an adjective, such as “interstate commerce,” or as a common noun, such as “interstate highway,” it is lower case. When used as a proper noun, such as “Interstate 29,” it is upper case. On following uses in the same material, it can be abbreviated to I-29. Other related examples - Interstate Highway System, Primary Road System and Secondary Road System should be capitalized when used as proper nouns. When used as common nouns, such as highway system or streets and roads systems, these should be lowercase. 
Interstate 235/I-235 First reference is spelled out. Second reference: I-235. Note: I-235 signage is westbound I-235 or eastbound I-235 (not south/north) except at mixmaster, then only refer to it as I-235 or Interstate 235. 
Interstate 380/U.S. 281/Iowa 27; Interstate 35/235 When a route shares multiple designations or when denoting an interchange, list them shown in the examples (interstate highway first/U.S. highway next/Iowa highway). Examples: Interstate 35/80; I-35/235 (smaller number to larger number); I-35/80/235 interchange; Interstate 380/U.S. 281/Iowa 27; I-380/U.S. 281/Iowa 27 
InTrans Institute for Transportation (InTrans) -- OLD name Center for Transportation Research and Education now within Iowa State University's Institute for Transportation (InTrans); CTRE includes three programs: Geospatial Safety Information Systems Program, Program for Roadway Infrastructure Management and Operations and Sustainable Transportation Systems Program. 
InTrans Institute for Transportation (at Iowa State University) 
In turn two words 
invisible web What you cannot find using general web search engines. (Source: UC Berkeley 12-23-14 jm) 
Iowa Acts When referencing: YEAR Iowa Acts, chapter XXX, section XXX 
Iowa Administrative Code  This contains the administrative rules. CITATION of administrative rules: The Iowa Administrative Bulletin Code shall be cited as (agency identification number) IAC (chapter, rule, subrule, lettered paragraph, or numbered subparagraph). Iowa DOT's agency number is 761. (SAMPLE FORMAT: AGENCY# IAC CHAPTER#) 761 IAC 600 (Chapter) 761 IAC 600.1 (Rule) 761 IAC 600.1(1) (Subrule) 761 IAC 600.1(1)“a” (Paragraph) 761 IAC 600.1(1)“a”(1) (Subparagraph) [source: Iowa Administrative Bulletin] 
Iowa Code; Iowa Code chapter 620; Iowa Code chapters 6A, 6B and 316; Code of Iowa; Iowa Code 331.5(b); Iowa Code § 259A.5 (2007); Iowa Code §§ 321.201, 321.203 (2005); Iowa Code § 554.1101 Preferred: Iowa Code 620.1 
Iowa Department of Transportation  Use Iowa Department of Transportation then after in the text use Iowa DOT. Never use IDOT.(Source: Jan. 2012) 
Iowa Department of Transportation headquarter's Materials Conference Room  
Iowa DOT's Management Team second reference: Management Team 
Iowa Driver's Manual  
Iowa (highway); Iowa 122 spell out Iowa for all state routes; do NOT use highway (i.e., Iowa 210) 
Iowa in Motion  
Iowa Interstate Corridor Plan Source: 7/1/13 Stu Anderson 
Iowa Secretary of State Office This is the official office of Iowa's secretary of state. Exception to AP rules 
Iowa’s public roads system Do not capitalize public roads system. 
Iowa Transportation Commission first reference; then you can use the Commission 
irregardless (not a word ...) not a word; use regardless. 
I-shaped girders  
to do; to-do; to-do (plural to-dos) to-do: bustle, stir, fuss; excited or angry activity that is usually not necessary or wanted; a list of things to do <Calling the plumber is on my to-do list.> 
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