Table of Contents

This chapter is designed as a reference work on editorial style for the use of drafters, typists, word processing staff, and proofreaders. Its entries are listed in alphabetical order. It provides answers to most questions about the standard practice in Minnesota Rules. In some cases, it refers the reader to another part of the rule manual or to more extensive reference works.

These are the most important references for rule drafting:

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Edited by William Morris. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Refer to this book to answer usage questions.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed., rev. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. Refer to this book to answer capitalization, punctuation, and hyphenation questions.

U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1973. This is also called the GPO Style Manual. Refer to this book to answer questions about abbreviations, although these will be rare.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. and C. Merriam Company, 1976. Refer to this book to answer spelling and hyphenation questions.

This chapter covers the following topics:

compound words
official titles
quotation marks
time of day
word division

Table of Contents


An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase used primarily to save space. (See also Contractions.) The two general rules about abbreviations in rule drafting are: (1) avoid abbreviations, and (2) when in doubt about whether to abbreviate a word in rules, spell it out.

In particular, avoid using initials as a substitute for an official name. For example, write "Environmental Protection Agency" or "the agency." Do not write "the EPA." Full names are especially important for publications being incorporated by reference. For examples, see chapter 4, Forms of Citation. Initials in the title of a document should be left as they are in the title of the document.

The following are exceptions to the general rules:

  1. An abbreviation may be used if it is part of a proper name, as in "Cargill, Inc."

  2. The abbreviations a.m. and p.m. may be used to express time, as in "1:00 a.m." or "2:34 p.m." See Numbers.

  3. Abbreviations may be used in tables, illustrations, and similar material.

  4. The names of the compass points may be abbreviated after a street name.

    Example: 821 Fifth Avenue SE

    In legal land descriptions, names of the compass points should remain exactly as they are in the legal instrument the drafter is working from. Whether the points of the compass are abbreviated with periods, abbreviated without periods, or written out, they should not be changed.

    Example: within the S.W. 1/4 of section 19, township 105N, range 32W

  5. State names may be abbreviated in addresses. Use the abbreviations approved by the postal service. See Addresses.

    Example: MN

  6. In technical material, units of measurement may be abbreviated.

  7. The symbols for the chemical elements may be used in text as well as in equations, formulas, and tabular matter.

    Examples: H, Au.

  8. Initials in the title of a publication should be left as they are in the title of that publication.

  9. When you must use an acronym, use an "s" to make it plural and an apostrophe plus "s" to make it possessive.

    Examples: two LEPGPs, the LEPGP's manager

If you use abbreviations, use the forms given in the GPO Style Manual. Do not use the abbreviations e.g., i.e., et al., et seq., and etc. Do not abbreviate any part of a citation of Minnesota Statutes or Minnesota Rules. See References. See Subpart for directions for using "Subp." in place of "Subpart."

Table of Contents


Write addresses in paragraph form. Do not put quotation marks around the address. Capitalize as you would on the front of an envelope. (This is an exception to the rule that titles of officers are put in lower case.) Abbreviate only the points of the compass and the state name.

Example: Applications must be mailed to: Director, Office of State Building Construction Division, Department of Administration, Administration Building, 50 Fifth Street SE, Saint Paul, MN 55155.

Use the preceding form only if the address is complete. For a partial address, use paragraph form and lowercase the officer's title as usual.

Example: Applications must be mailed to the director of the Office of State Building Construction.

Table of Contents


Use apostrophes to mark singular and plural possessive forms.


the court's intention (singular)
children's television
farmers' cooperative associations (plural)

However, some possessives are "frozen" and the apostrophe is omitted. These include:

If an existing name is usually written without an apostrophe, don't add one.

The following phrases usually raise questions. Here are the forms the revisor's office uses:

Use apostrophes to pluralize single letters or figures used as nouns, such as "x's," or "4's."

Use an apostrophe in phrases like "30 days' notice."

Table of Contents


Use brackets around editorial notes, "see repealer", "withdrawn", and relettering instructions in the body of the rule. See chapter 1.

Table of Contents


To answer a question not addressed here, refer to The Chicago Manual of Style.

Capitalized words.

  1. Capitalize the important words in rule titles.

  2. Type headnotes for parts in full capitals. In subparts, capitalize only the first word.


    2222.0200 RETURNS AND RECORDS.

    Subpart 1. Sales and use tax return.

  3. In references to state statutes and rules, capitalize only the words "Minnesota Rules," "Minnesota Statutes," "Laws," and names of other publications.


    Minnesota Rules, part 6134.0200, subpart 5, item A, subitem (1).

    Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.065, subdivision 2, paragraph (b), clause (1).

    Laws 1978, chapter 785, section 4, subdivision 8.

    In the layout of each part, capitalize "Subpart" and "Subp."


    Subpart 1. Fees required.

    Subp. 2. Fee amount.

  4. Capitalize the important words in the titles of books, government documents, periodicals, or serials and in the titles of chapters or sections of these publications. See chapter 1, the section on incorporations by reference and associated examples, for more information.

    "Safety Recommendations for Sensitized Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Agents," issued by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, as Information Circular 8179 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1963).

  5. Capitalize proper names. These include the official names of government agencies, political subdivisions, and laws, as well as the names of people, places, and institutions. They do not include titles of individual civic officers (governor, commissioner) except when such titles precede names.


    Department of Agriculture
    Building Construction Division
    Hennepin County
    Floyd B. Olson Memorial Highway
    Governor Albert Quie
    University of Minnesota
    Houghton Mifflin Company
    Administrative Procedure Act

Uncapitalized words.

  1. Do not capitalize words referring to a civic office.

    Example: the commissioner of agriculture (but: the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture)

  2. Do not capitalize words referring to an agency, a political subdivision, or a place if they are not part of a proper name. Do not capitalize such words even when they stand for proper nouns. See Addresses for the one exception to this rule.


    the department
    the county
    the highway
    the governor
    the university
    the company

  3. If you are not sure whether something is a proper name, do not capitalize it. Names of forms (like "certificate of live birth") or programs (like "home improvement loan program") should not be capitalized. Neither should funds, grants, types of aid, or other state administrative creations. There are some exceptions, such as the federal programs Medicare and Medicaid.

  4. Do not capitalize "state" in the phrase "state of Minnesota." Do not capitalize the words "federal," "legislature," and "state" unless they are part of the agency's statutory name, such as "State Board of Chiropractic Examiners."

  5. Do not capitalize initial words in items in a vertical list unless each item is a complete sentence. Remember that lists of sentences are easier to read than lists of sentence parts.

    Example: a list of phrases

    A certification by the director under Minnesota Statutes, section 179.69, subdivision 3 or 5, must contain:

    1. the petition requesting arbitration;

    2. a concise written statement by the director indicating that an impasse has been reached and that further mediation efforts would serve no purpose;

    3. a determination by the director of matters not agreed upon based upon efforts to mediate the dispute;

    4. the final positions submitted by the parties; and

    5. those agreed-upon items to be excluded from arbitration.

    Example: a list of sentences

    Instructions must be printed on the ballot envelope and must include the directions printed below:

    1. After you have voted, check your ballot to be sure your vote is recorded for the candidate or question of your choice.

    2. Put your ballot in this envelope, leaving the stub exposed.

    3. Return this envelope with the ballot enclosed to the election judge.

    4. If you make a mistake in voting or if you spoil your ballot, return it to the election judge and get another ballot.

    Table of Contents


    Do not use captions below graphics. Explain what the graphic is in text that is clearly within a numbered part or subpart.

    Table of Contents


    Submit a chart as clean, camera-ready copy or as both tagged image format (.tif) and encapsulated postscript (.eps).

    Table of Contents


    See chapter 4, Forms of Reference.

    Table of Contents


    Rules are given decimal part numbers. Example: Part 1000.0100. Parts are ordered decimally, not numerically, so that extra parts can be inserted between existing rules. The revisor's office will decide the coding of new parts.

    Anything that appears in proposed rules must be within a numbered part or must have its own part number.

    Table of Contents


    Place a colon after an expression that introduces a series of items.


    The petition must contain the following information: the name and address of petitioner, the names and addresses of adverse parties, and a concise statement of the grievance, and references to all the relevant documents.

    See also Quotation Marks.

    Table of Contents


    If you wonder whether or not to use a comma, consult The Chicago Manual of Style.

    Here are some of the most important rules regarding the use of the comma:

    1. Place a comma before a conjunction that joins the clauses of a compound sentence unless the clauses are short and closely related.


      The commissioner shall appoint a deputy commissioner, and the deputy commissioner shall preside over the advisory task force.

    2. Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive dependent clause that follows a main clause or falls within the main clause. A nonrestrictive clause is one that can be omitted without altering the meaning of the main clause.


      The application, which may be obtained from the Department of Education, must be submitted by June 30, 1981.

    3. Use a comma to set off a dependent clause that precedes a main clause.


      After completing the report, the administrative law judge shall submit the report to the chief administrative law judge.

    4. Generally, use a comma after an adverbial phrase at the beginning of the sentence. The comma may be omitted after a short adverbial phrase.


      For the 1981-1982 school year and each later school year, the state must pay summer school aid.

    5. Use commas to set off transitional elements that create a break in the continuity of the thought.


      The term of the deputy commissioner, however, is two years.

    6. Separate two or more adjectives by commas if each modifies the noun alone.


      The principal must submit a short, comprehensive report on school discipline problems annually to the Department of Children, Families, and Learning.

    7. Use commas to separate words, phrases, or clauses in a simple series. When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series, use a comma before the conjunction.


      The members of the commission are the commissioner of health, the commissioner of administration, and the commissioner of transportation.

    8. Use a comma to set off the year following the month and day.


      Before June 30, 1982, ...

      Omit the commas around the year when no day is given.


      The exemption expires in March 1982 unless the agency reapplies.

    9. Use commas to separate the parts of references. For examples, see chapter 4, Forms of Reference.

    10. For rules about combining and quotation marks, see Quotation Marks.

    Table of Contents

    Compound Words

    See Hyphens.

    Table of Contents


    Contractions are allowed only in tabular matter where space is limited. Given a choice between a contraction and an abbreviation, use the abbreviation. For example, write "govt." and not "gov't" as a short form of government.

    Table of Contents


    Avoid the use of dashes in text material. Remember that it is nearly impossible to show that a dash has been stricken out in the amendment process.

    Table of Contents


    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents


    A defined term should have its own subpart within a part entitled "Definitions."

    Table of Contents


    If a form can be input, it should be. If not, it must be submitted as camera-ready copy to be scanned into the revisor's database. If your agency is capable of submitting graphics in electronic format, submit it in two forms: tagged image format (.tif) and encapsulated postscript (.eps).

    Table of Contents


    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents


    Do not hyphenate a word at the end of a line. Only hyphenate when a word's proper spelling includes a hyphen.

    To answer questions about hyphenation, first consult Webster's Third New International Dictionary. If that gives no answer, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, especially table 6-1. Most hyphenation questions concern compounds like "part-time" and "60-day." These compounds are hyphenated when they precede nouns, as in "part-time job" or "60-day license."

    With three classes of exceptions, words beginning with the following prefixes are spelled as solid words:

    ante anteroom, antediluvian, antenatal
    anti anticlerical, antihero, antihypertensive
    bi bivalent, biconvex, binominal
    bio bioecology, biophysical
    co coauthor, coordinate
    counter counterclockwise, countermeasures, countercurrent, counterblow
    extra extraterrestrial, extrafine
    infra infrasonic, infrastructure
    inter interrelated, intertidal, interregnum
    intra intrazonal, intracranial
    macro macroeconomics, macrosphere, macromolecular
    meta metalanguage, metagalaxy, metaethical, metastable (but metanalysis)


    microminiaturized, microimage, micromethod


    midocean, midtown, midgut, midcentury (but mid-nineteenth century)


    minibus, miniskirt, minibike


    multifaceted, multistory, multiconductor


    neoclassical, neonatal, neoorthodox, neorealism, Neotropical


    nonviolent, nonperson, nonplus, nonnegotiable, nonnative (or non-native)


    overlong, overeager, overanalyzed


    postdoctoral, postface, postwar, postparturition


    preempt, precognition, preconference, premalignant


    procathedral, procephalic


    protoderm, protogalaxy, protolanguage, prototypical


    pseudopregnancy, pseudoclassic, pseudoheroic


    reedit, reunify, redigitalize, reexamine


    semiopaque, semiconductor


    socioeconomic, sociopolitical


    subjacent, subbasement, subcrustal


    supertanker, superhigh (frequency), superpose


    supranational, suprarenal, supraliminal


    transoceanic, transmembrane, transsocietal


    ultrafiche, ultramontane, ultraorganized


    unfunded, unchurched, uncoiffed, unneutered


    underused, undersea, underpowered, underreport

    Here are the exceptions to the general rule:

    Hyphenate if the second element of the word is capitalized or a number figure.

    Examples: anti-Semitic, pre-1914

    Hyphenate to distinguish certain homographs.

    Examples: re-cover, un-ionized

    Hyphenate if the second element has more than one word.


    pre-Civil war
    non-English-speaking people

    Use hyphens in compound numbers (like "thirty-three" at the beginning of a sentence), in fractions (like "one-half"), in mixed numbers (like "4-3/4"). See Numbers to learn when these should be spelled out.

    Use hyphens in dates representing periods extending over more than one year (like "1981-1982").

    Some compounds in which the last letter of the prefix is the same as the first letter of the following word are hyphenated to avoid misleading or puzzling forms (for example, anti-intellectual, non-native, semi-independent).

    Table of Contents


    Submit an illustration as clean camera-ready copy or as both tagged image format (.tif) and encapsulated postscript (.eps).

    Table of Contents


    See Abbreviations.

    Table of Contents


    Minnesota Rules uses italic type for rule histories, names of court cases, and genus and species names of plants and animals. It does not use italics for titles of publications.

    Table of Contents


    A division of a part or subpart is called an item, as in part 1001.0100, subpart 1, item A.

    Table of Contents


    Submit a map as clean, camera-ready copy or as both tagged image format (.tif) and encapsulated postscript (.eps).

    Table of Contents


    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents


    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents


    Numbers used as designators. Use figures for numbers used to refer to specific entities: grades K to 8, school district 24.

    Amounts. Write numbers ten and under in words; write numbers 11 and over in figures.


    two sheets and 12 towels
    at least 24 hours

    Write a number that begins a sentence in words (but see also Money and Fractions, below).

    Example: Thirty days after the commission has received the report, the commissioner must ....

    Order. Write out the ordinal numbers one through ten. Write ordinal numbers greater than ten in numbers and letters.

    Examples: first, second, fifth, 11th, 15th, 81st

    Do not use an abbreviation or period following an ordinal figure.

    Money. Use figures to express dollar amounts. For figures with four digits, use a comma.

    Examples: $5, $300, $750, $4,500

    Express a dollar amount that begins a sentence as a figure.

    Example: $100 may be paid....

    Express an even dollar money amount with a dollar sign and the dollar amount, omitting the decimal and zeros.

    Examples: $5, $7,500

    In running text, express money amounts with dollar signs, omitting the decimal and zeros for those figures which represent even dollar amounts.

    Examples: $4, $9.50, $23.35, $50

    However, in tabulations that include at least one figure with cents, show the decimal point and zeros for even dollar amounts.


    $ 12.50

    For amounts under a dollar in running text, spell out the word cent or cents. Avoid the cents symbol.


    50 cents

    In tables, use dollar signs, decimal points, and zeros. Include the dollar sign only once, with the first figure in the column.


    $ 7.50

    Fractions and decimals. When the denominator is ten or less, write the fraction in words. When it is over ten, express the fraction with figures. Decimal fractions should always be preceded by a zero.


    three-tenths, one-half
    5/16, 3/25, 0.04, 0.007

    However, use figures if the fraction is used in a technical measurement or computation.


    (1) Quantity rate table. A generator may report quantities in pounds or gallons. For the purposes of this part, one gallon of hazardous waste equals ten pounds of hazardous waste.




    STEP 1
    STEP 2
    STEP 3
    STEP 4
    STEP 5

    1/4 of step 1 rate
    l/2 of step 2 rate
    1/10 of step 3 rate

    0 - 4,000
    4,001 - 26,400
    26,401 - 100,000
    100,001 - 500,000
    > than 500,000

    0 - 400
    401 - 2,640
    2,641 - 10,000
    10,001 - 50,000
    > than 50,000

    Express mixed numbers in figures, except at the beginning of a sentence.


    1-1/2, 9-15/16
    "One and one-half" at the beginning of a sentence.

    Fractions expressed in figures should not be followed by endings like -sts, -rds, -ths.

    Do not use:

    1/2 of one

    Measurements. Treat quantities such as distance, length, area, and volume according to the rules for spelling out numbers:


    45 miles
    ten degrees Celsius
    three cubic feet
    240 volts

    Time of day. Times of day are usually spelled out in text matter, but figures are used when the exact moment of time is to be emphasized. Always use figures in designations of time with a.m. or p.m.

    Examples: "eight o'clock," but "2:00 p.m."

    Temperature readings. Treat temperatures according to the ordinary rules for numbers. Write out "degree" and "Fahrenheit" or "Celsius."

    Inclusive numbers. Use the word "to" to show a range of numbers if you can do so without ambiguity.

    Example: from 1996 to 1998 (acceptable form but not clear drafting)

    In references to time periods that begin in one year and end in the next, use a hyphen rather than "to." Write the ending figure in full; don't abbreviate it.

    Example: the 1997-1998 school year

    Percentages. In text, spell out the word "percent" and write the number according to the other rules here.

    Example: 12 percent, three percent, 2-1/2 percent, 0.04 percent

    The % symbol may be used in tables.

    Telephone numbers. Type telephone numbers this way:

    (612) 378-2453

    Dates. Express complete dates in month-day-year sequence. In the text of rules spell out the month of the year. Do not abbreviate the month, and do not use the numerical symbol for it. If only the month and year are used, do not insert a comma after the month or after the year.


    Before September 2, 1980, the commissioner ....
    Before May 1980 the commissioner ....

    Table of Contents

    Official Titles

    When referring to a public officer, agency, or organization, use the official title of the officer, agency, or organization. The official titles for state officers or agencies are usually found in the constitutional or statutory sections that create them. The official titles for most state agencies are in the Guidebook to State Agency Services, published by the Communication.Media Division of the Department of Administration. For rules on capitalization in official titles, see Capitalization.

    Table of Contents


    Use parentheses around subitem numbers and unit letters. See Subitem and Unit.


    Subitem (1)
    Unit (a)

    Use parentheses where needed in mathematical expressions.


    W = y(a)+z(b)

    Use parentheses to set off place of publication, publisher, and date in references.

    Table of Contents


    The basic unit of rule material within a chapter is called a part, as in part 1001.0100.

    Table of Contents


    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents


    Use a period after a part or subpart headnote. Do not use a period after the full part number that appears before the headnote.


    9999.0900 RECORDS AND SAMPLES.

    Use periods at the ends of complete declarative sentences. Do not use periods after phrases or clauses in a tabulated list; use semicolons. See Series and Capitalization for examples of this rule.

    See also Quotation Marks.

    Table of Contents


    Submit a photograph as clean, camera-ready copy or as both tagged image format (.tif) and encapsulated postscript (.eps).

    Table of Contents


    See individual marks. To answer questions about punctuation that are not addressed in this manual, see The Chicago Manual of Style.

    Table of Contents

    Quotation Marks

    Use quotation marks for definitions, or whenever you are talking about a word or phrase. Keep using the quotation marks in successive uses of the phrase within the definition, and not only the first sentence. Stop using quotation marks when you stop defining the word and start using it.

    Example: "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the department of health. The commissioner shall review applications within 30 days.

    Popular names or citation sections are strongly discouraged in rules, but if you must use them - or when you amend existing rules - put them in quotation marks when you first assign them to a group of rules. Do not use quotation marks in later references to the short title.


    Parts 1011.5050 to 1011.5060 may be cited as the "Tax Reform Rules."

    Use quotation marks for brief quotations. Set off lengthy quotations in an indented block style.

    Put periods and commas inside quotation marks, colons and semicolons outside.

    Use quotation marks to enclose words and phrases following terms such as "marked," "designated," "named," or "entitled."

    Table of Contents


    Here are the major rules for semicolons:

    1. Use a semicolon to separate closely related independent clauses not connected by a conjunction. Be careful not to overuse this construction. Separate sentences are better than needlessly connected ones.


      An applicant must be at least 18 years old; a birth certificate is required as proof of age.

    2. Use a semicolon between independent clauses joined by a transitional connective such as also, furthermore, moreover, however, nevertheless, namely, that is, for example, hence, therefore, thus, then, later, finally. Again, don't overuse this construction. Keep sentences short.


      Applications must be submitted before January 1, 1982; however, the board may grant an extension for good cause.

    3. Use a semicolon to separate equal elements that contain internal commas.


      For the purpose of this part, "surety" means a note; stock; bond; assumption of any obligation or liability as a guarantor, endorser, or surety; or collateral trust certificate.

    4. Use semicolons to separate references when one or more of the references contain internal punctuation. The decimal counts as internal punctuation.

      Example: Minnesota Statutes, sections 325.01, subdivision 2; 468.01; and 524.03, subdivision 5.

    5. Use semicolons after clauses or phrases in a vertical list, except after the last item in the list. If the listed items are complete sentences, use periods. See Capitalization for examples of this rule.

    See Quotation Marks for rules about positioning semicolons.

    Table of Contents


    Use the slash between the numerator and denominator of fractions, except in displayed equations. Do not use the slashed forms and/or, she/he, or federal/state. Other slashed forms may be used if they are necessary technical terms.

    Examples: 5/6, a/b

    Table of Contents


    Use Webster's Third New International Dictionary to decide spelling questions. When you have found the entry that is the right part of speech and has the right meaning, use the main spelling (first spelling) for that entry. Do not use a variant (second or third spelling). For example, if you find labeling and the note says "or labelling," use the form with the single l.

    Table of Contents


    In proposed amendments and modifications, strike out material to be removed from the text of a rule.

    Example: one-year.

    See also Underscoring.

    Table of Contents


    The divisions of items are called subitems, as in Minnesota Rules, part 1001.0100, subpart 1, item A, subitem (1).

    Table of Contents


    The first division of a part is called a subpart, as in Minnesota Rules, part 1001.0100, subpart 1. In references, "subpart" is always spelled out, but in the layout of each part, "Subpart" is spelled out only for the first subpart. After that, it is abbreviated "Subp."


    Subpart 1
    Subp. 2
    Subp. 3

    Table of Contents


    The divisions of units are called subunits, as in Minnesota Rules, part 1001.0100, subpart 1, item A, subitem (1), unit (a), subunit i. Subunits are to be used only very rarely. Their use usually makes rules unreadable.

    Table of Contents


    Avoid symbols in text material. Use the degree symbol only in tables or other places where space is limited. For example, write % as percent; write ' as feet and " as inches. When specifying dimensions use the word "by" rather than the symbol "x." See also Abbreviations and Contractions.

    If a symbol is used in a range of numbers, it should be repeated with each number. A spelled-out word or an abbreviation used in place of the symbol is given only with the last number.


    8-1/2 by 11 inches

    Table of Contents


    Submit a table as clean camera-ready copy or as both tagged image format (.tif) and encapsulated postscript (.eps).

    Table of Contents


    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents

    Time of Day

    See Numbers.

    Table of Contents


    Underscore new material to be inserted or substituted for old material in the text of rules.

    Example: two years.

    See also Strikeouts.

    Table of Contents


    The divisions of subitems are called units, as in Minnesota Rules, part 1001.0100, subpart 1, item A, subitem (1), unit (a). Units are to be used only very rarely. Their use usually makes rules very difficult to read.

    Table of Contents

    Word Division

    See Hyphens.

    Top of Section -- Previous Section -- Table of Contents -- Next Section

    This page is maintained by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes Help Desk.
    Last review or upate: 2/23/99 (haj)
    If you find errors in this page, please let us know at help.desk@revisor. leg.state.mn.us