Style Guide Standards


  • Rachael Taft, Site Administrator
  • Ext. 3779
  • Email Us

The Manatee County Government website generally follows AP Style writing guidelines.If you aren’t sure about something, a Google search of “AP Style” and your question will likely find your answer.

These rules are to ensure we communicate effectively with citizens in a consistent way that’s easy to understand.

Acronyms and jargon

  • Avoid using acronyms and jargon.
  • Try to use common or generic terms instead of acronyms and jargon (the Board instead of BOCC, trash instead of solid waste).
  • If you must use an acronym, spell out on first mention followed by acronym in parentheses.


The Board of County Commissioners meets each Tuesday. The board’s agenda is available online before the meeting.

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) is hiring bus drivers. MCAT drivers must complete two weeks of training.


  • Use bullets, not hyphens or numbers (unless listing steps).
  • Capitalize the first letter of each bullet.
  • Avoid beginning list items with “a,” “an,” “the” or other repetitive words or phrases.


You can use your online account to:

  • Make payments
  • View statements
  • Request paperless billing
  • View billing history

Codes and ordinances

  • When referencing enacting language for your program or service, link to an ordinance on the Municode site, providing context or a simple summary of the code along with the link.
  • Don't paste the full copy of an ordinance or upload a PDF of an ordinance

Contact information

Use abbreviations for Ave., Blvd., St. (only with a numbered address). Always spell out all others: alley, drive, road, terrace, etc.:

  • Manatee County Government Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.
  • Manatee County Public Safety Center, 2101 47th Terrace E

Phone number
Use parentheses for the area code. For an extension, add a space after the number then “ext.”

  • (941) 748-4501
  • (941) 748-4501 ext. 1234


Use just the integer for dates.

  • May 5, not May 5th or 5th of May

Abbreviate most months in a date (Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.). Set off the year with commas when using full dates with month, day and year.

  • Our regular schedule will resume on Monday, Jan. 8.
  • The meeting on March 4 is canceled.
  • The bridge opened on Oct. 18, 2017.

Spell out the month if it’s just month and year (do not put a comma after the month).

  • The next event will be in October 2018.

Emphasizing important information


  • Use headers, spacing or bullet points to separate and call attention to the information.
  • Use bold to highlight important key words or phrases.
  • Use buttons for important links that users need to follow to accomplish their tasks.


  • Don't make full sentences or paragraphs bold.
  • Don't write words or sentences in all capital letters.
  • Don't use exclamation points or asterisks.
  • Don't change the color of text.

Frequently asked questions

You can supplement your main content with limited FAQs, but don’t try to replace or repackage the main content.

  • Use real customer feedback to create helpful FAQs rather than assume what questions they’ll have.
  • Provide unique content with your FAQs and link to existing information rather than repeating it.
  • Be concise. Too much content can be overwhelming and it won’t be read by someone looking to find information quickly.

Don't use FAQs to explain an entire process or to repeat content that already exists elsewhere on the site. Don't add an FAQ every time you get a new question, even if it’s not frequently asked.

You shouldn't have a whole page just for FAQs. This is usually a sign your main content needs to be rewritten or reorganized. 

Infographics, flyers and images with text


  • Use captions to include information that goes with your page’s hero image/banner.
  • Include all text on the photo in the meta data for the image (this is an accessibility requirement).
  • Use photos from the County’s Flickr and Google Photos accounts.


  • Don't choose images with text as the hero image/banner for your pages (they won’t resize well and they don't meet ADA requirements)
  • Don't create a page with nothing but a PDF or image of a flyer
  • Don't use clipart or generic stock photos


  • Hyperlink descriptive text - this should be similar to the name of the page you’re linking to.
    • Do not use generic text like "Click here" for your links.
  • Don't write out a URL as a link (unless it is a short URL).
  • All external links (outside of the CivicLive CMS) and documents should open in a new window. Choose "New Window" from the Target dropdown when inserting your link.




  • Spell out numbers one through nine (except addresses, ages, percentages, money, measurements and distances). Use figures for numbers 10 and higher.
  • Spell out first, second, third, etc.
  • Fees/Money: Do not spell out numbers, do not include .00 for even amounts.


Waste must be placed in one location, no more than 3 feet from the curb or road, before 6 a.m on the day of collection. We pick up a maximum of two furniture items per collection day.

Collection is the third Saturday of each month.

The minimum fee is $20.

Call (941) 748-4501 ext. 1234.

PDFs and downloadable documents

PDFs should not be used on the site unless absolutely necessary. All PDFs must meet accessibility requirements. Contact the Site Administrator before uploading PDFs to the website.

  • Write out the content on the page if the document is a few pages or less (you can still include a PDF for download if necessary).
  • Provide context with a description of the document when linking to a PDF.
  • Make it clear a link is going to download a PDF.
  • Don't create long lists of documents with vague names and little context.
  • Don't upload or link to Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents – many people don’t have access to Microsoft Office.

Brochures and Flyers - Images or PDFs of flyers or brochures are strongly discouraged.

  • The content in a brochure or flyer should exist as text on the webpage. The content should be rewritten to fit web content standards.
  • Any words or information in that image is not searchable, so users will not be able to find it. Without proper metadata, these images also pose accessibility issues for users using site readers. Documents must be accessible to be in compliance with ADA requirements.
  • If you believe users will want to print the brochure, you can also include it as a downloadable PDF.

Forms - Could this form be an online fillable form instead? Contact the Site Administrator. If the form must be downloaded and filled out, an accessible, fillable PDF of the form is recommended.

Agendas, manuals, reports, and other extensive documents - Extensive documents may make sense as downloadable accessible PDFs. Contact the Site Administrator for guidance.

Preferred uses for common terms

Manatee County Government should always be capitalized. "MCG" and "the County" may be used on second reference.

Online instead of "On-Line." Only capitalize the word if it begins a sentence, as in: "Online applications can be found by clicking ... "

Email instead of “e-mail.”

Capitalize an employee's title when it is used immediately before the person's name (i.e., Building and Development Services Department Director John Barnott). Lowercase the employee's title if it follows a name (i.e., John Barnott, director of the Building and Development Services Department).

On first reference use Manatee County Board of County Commissioners. Subsequent references include the "BCC," "the Board" and "the Commission."


  • Use a.m. or p.m. (lowercase with periods).
  • Don’t include a colon and two zeroes (:00) for an even hour.
  • Always use noon instead of 12 p.m.


We are open weekdays from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.