When to capitalize the names of places.
Capitalize names of specific political divisions and subdivisions and the names of geographical regions and features; in most cases, also capitalize adjectives derived from such names.
The names of countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, towns, and villages are obviously capitalized, though sometimes a decision has to be made about generic terms that may occur with such names. New York City is an official name and Kansas City is the only name; there is no question that city is capitalized in these examples. ButWashington state and Washington State both occur, to distinguish the state from the District of Columbia; and New York state and New York State both occur, to distinguish the state from the city. A workable rule with state is to capitalize it when it follows the proper noun but not when it precedes:Washington State, but the state of Washington. Canadian provinces, however, have the official form Province of Quebec, Province of Ontario, and so on.
The names of continents, oceans, rivers, lakes, islands and island groups, mountains, canyons, and similar geographical features are also capitalized, but again there may be some style problems when there are accompanying generic terms.
- the Fifth Precinct, the precinct
- the Twenty-first Congressional District, the congressional district
- the Roman Empire, the empire
- Kings County, Queens County, but Kings and Queens counties
- the Indian River, the Banana River, but the Indian and Banana rivers
- the Catskill Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, but the Catskills and Adirondack mountains
- Lakes Erie and Superior; the Rivers Styx and Lethe (but sometimes lowercasing lakes and rivers in this context is acceptable)
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