May 16, 2002: Issue 23
SIM STYLE: When do I capitalize directions?
When a direction is part of a word or phrase that refers to a widely recognized geographic region, capitalize it. (In some cases, this is an exception to Words Into Type.) Otherwise, directions are generally lowercase.
correct: They lived in the Southwest for years.
correct: Their vacation home lies 60 miles southwest of Phoenix.
correct: They live in Southern California.
correct: They vacation in southern Iowa.
correct: They visited the South of France.
correct: They traveled south from Paris.
Here are some other correctly capitalized regions we run into frequently: the Northwest, the West, the South, the Deep South, the Southeast, the Northeast, back East, Down East, the Eastern Shore, the Midwest, West Texas, the West Coast, the East Coast, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Mideast, Southeast Asia, the Far East (sometimes just the East, if context is clear), and the Northern (Southern, Eastern, or Western) Hemisphere.
GRAMMAR: I always mix up “who’s” and “whose.” What’s the difference?
“Who’s” is the contraction of “who is” or “who has.” “Whose” is the possessive pronoun.
correct: Who’s that nervous-looking guy standing outside the courtroom?
correct: He’s the architect whose building collapsed.