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Editorial Style Guide

General Style Preferences

Geographic Regions and States
Capitalize words that are part of the formal name, but lowercase in less formal uses: he crossed the Hudson River; but: he fell into the river.

Lowercase north, south, northeast, etc. when they indicate compass direction, but capitalize when they indicate a region: the West Coast. Lowercase with names of nations (southern France) unless they indicate a political division (South Korea). With states, lowercase in most uses: northern New York. However, widely known designations are capitalized: the Upper East Side, Southern California. When in doubt, lowercase.

In running text, spell out the names of states when they stand alone. (The names may be condensed in tabular material.) When the state name is used with a city or town, most state names are abbreviated; however, the following are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah. For other states, use the following abbreviations, not postal abbreviations (shown in parentheses). Use postal abbreviations only when giving complete addresses with ZIP codes.

2014 AP style update: In running text, spell out the names of states whether standing alone or in conjunction with a city, town, village, or military base. Use the state abbreviations (not the postal abbreviations) indicated below in lists, tabular material, and short-form listings of party affiliation: D-Conn., R.-Kan.

Ala. (AL) Ill. (IL) Miss. (MS) N.C. (NC) Vt. (VT)
Ariz. (AZ) Ind. (IN) Mo. (MO) N.D. (ND) Va. (VA)
Ark. (AR) Kan. (KS) Mont. (MT) Okla. (OK) Wash. (WA)
Calif. (CA) Ky. (KY) Neb. (NE) Ore. (OR) W.Va. (WV)
Colo. (CO) La. (LA) Nev. (NV) Pa. (PA) Wis. (WI)
Conn. (CT) Md. (MD) N.H. (NH) R.I. (RI) Wyo. (WY)
Del. (DE) Mass. (MA) N.J. (NJ) S.C. (SC)  
Fla. (FL) Mich. (MI) N.M. (NM) S.D. (SD)  
Ga. (GA) Minn. (MN) N.Y. (NY) Tenn. (TN)  

The following are the postal abbreviations for the states that are never abbreviated in text: Alaska (AK), Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Iowa (IA), Maine (ME), Ohio (OH), Texas (TX), Utah (UT). Also, District of Columbia (DC).

Updated June 27, 2014

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