Abbreviations of state names as well as proper use of compass directions

compass directions/geographical regions

1. Lowercase compass directions: north, south, east, west, northwest, southeastern and others.

  • CORRECT: She moved to the southwestern United States, but will not wear sunscreen—so she’s toast.
  • CORRECT: Only tourist associations refer to west Michigan as West Michigan.

2. Capitalize regions within the United States but not within individual states.

  • CORRECT: Soon after moving from east Wisconsin to the East Coast, the Calvin alumnus was seen sporting a sou’wester.
  • CORRECT: The Pacific Northwest is famous for salmon fishing, Starbucks and Bill Gates’ humongous house. The Midwest isn’t famous for much.


1. Use an abbreviation of a state, province or territory name when referring to a city and state together in running text. Spell out the names of states, provinces and territories when they stand alone.

  • INCORRECT: The alumnus hailed from Elmira, New York, but he had never visited the Finger Lakes.
  • CORRECT: The alumnus hailed from Elmira, N.Y., but he had never visited the Finger Lakes.
  • CORRECT: The alumnus was a New York native, but he had never visited the Finger Lakes.
  • CORRECT: The alumna hailed from Moose Jaw, Sask., and her accent gave her away to the guy from Ontario.

2. Use Associated Press abbreviations, not postal codes, for U.S. states and territories and in running text of Calvin publications. Eight states are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. Calvin uses the Globe and Mail abbreviations of Canadian provinces and territories. Canadian acronyms of provinces use periods when there are two initials (B.C.) but not if there are more than two (PEI). Do not abbreviate Nunavut and Yukon.

3. Following are the abbreviations for U.S. states and territories and Canadian provinces and territories:

Alabama Ala.
Alaska Alaska
Arizona Ariz.
Arkansas Ark.
California Calif.
Colorado Colo.
Connecticut Conn.
Delaware Del.
Florida Fla.
Georgia Ga.
Hawaii Hawaii
Idaho Idaho
Illinois Ill.
Indiana Ind.
Iowa Iowa
Kansas Kan.
Kentucky Ky.
Louisiana La.
Maine Maine
Maryland Md.
Massachusetts Mass.
Michigan Mich.
Minnesota Minn.
Mississippi Miss.
Missouri Mo.
Montana Mont.
Nebraska Neb.
Nevada Nev.
New Hampshire N.H.
New Jersey N.J.
New Mexico N.M.
New York N.Y.
North Carolina N.C.
North Dakota N.D.
Ohio Ohio

Oklahoma Okla.
Oregon Ore.
Pennsylvania Pa.
Rhode Island R.I.
South Carolina S.C.
South Dakota S.D.
Tennessee Tenn.
Texas Texas
Utah Utah
Vermont Vt.
Virginia Va.
Washington Wash.
West Virginia W.Va.
Wisconsin Wis.
Wyoming Wyo.
District of Columbia D.C.
Guam Guam
Puerto Rico P.R.
Samoa Samoa
Virgin Islands V.I.
Canadian Provinces and Territories
Alberta Alta.
British Columbia B.C.
Manitoba Man.
New Brunswick N.B.
Newfoundland and Labrador Nfld.
Northwest Territories NWT
Nova Scotia N.S.
Nunavut Nunavut
Ontario Ont.
Prince Edward Island PEI
Quebec (province of Quebec) Que.
Saskatchewan Sask.
Yukon Yukon

3. streets

Do not abbreviate the words avenue, boulevard and street in running text, unless they are accompanied by a numeral.

  • CORRECT: The residents of the White House live on Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • CORRECT: The residents of the White House live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.