Certain nouns and adjectives that refer to geographical areas or topographical features are capitalized.


In a geographical name, name, capitalize the first letter of each word except articles and prepositions.

Continents                         Australia, South America, Europe, Asia

Bodies of Water                              Lake Ontario, the Jordan River, Strait of Belle Isle, Cape Code Bay, the Adriatic

                                               Sea, St. George’s Channel.

Land Forms                       the Pyrenees, the Sinai Peninsula, the Grand Canyon, the Syrian Desert, Mount

                                               Constance, the Plains of Abraham, Raton Pass, the Rocky Mountains.

World Regions                  the Orient, the Middle East, the Far East

Special Terms                    the Northern Hemisphere, the Tropical of Cancer, the North Pole

Political units                    the District of Columbia, the West Indies, San Francisco, the Republic of Texas

Public Areas                      Gettysburg National Park, Fort Niagara, the Blue Grotto, Mount  Rushmore

Roads and Highways    Main Street, Rout 447, West Side Highway, Van Buren Avenue, the Ohio


Usage Note

In official documents, words like city, state, and country are capitalized when they are part of the name of a political unit: the Country of Westchester, the City of Dallas. In general usage, however, such words are not capitalized.

Capitalize the word modified by a proper adjective only if the noun and adjective together form a geographical name.

English Channel                               English accent

The Indian Ocean            Indian artifacts


Capitalize names of sections of the country or the world, and any adjectives that come from those sections.

The Jennings moved from the East Coast to the Southwest

Jane is from a Midwestern town, but she has an Eastern accent.

Do not capitalize compass directions or adjectives that merely indicate direction or a general location.

Drive south on Pine Street to the first stoplight.

I spent my vacation on the western coast of Yugoslavia.

The hurricane moved northward.


Capitalize the names of planets in the solar system and other objects in the universe, except  words like sun and moon.

Neptune                             Halley’s Comet                an eclipse of the sun

Jupiter                                 the Big Dipper                  a phase of the moon

Capitalize the word earth only when it is used in conjunction with the names of other planets. The word earth is not capitalized when the article the precedes it.

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Pluto are known as the terrestrial planets because they resemble the earth in size, density, and chemical composition.


Capitalize the names of specific monuments, bridges, and buildings.

                The Lincoln Memorial                   Arch of Triumph

                The Prudential Building                                Tower Bridge

                The Flat Iron Building                    the State of Liberty

Capitalize the names of specific ships, airplanes, automobiles, and spacecrafts.

                Queen Elizabeth II                          the Denver Zephyr

                The Spirit of St. Louis                     Reliant

Punctuation Note

Underline the names of specific ships, airplanes, trains, and spacecrafts, but not automobiles.  


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