Is it East Coast, East coast, or east coast when used in a sentence such as, "The airline flies to both the East Coast and the West Coast?" I've seen it all ways. I can't find a definitive answer as to if or where capital letters are needed in this phrase. Thanks for your help.

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    Welcome to the ELU :-). Can you provide some context, please, so the answer can be more accurate? You can edit your own posts regardless of your current reputation.
    – Lucky
    Apr 29, 2015 at 14:15
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    This is the sort of thing style manuals cover, and they often differ from one another, and your choice among them is most likely dictated by your editor when and if you write for publication. Apr 29, 2015 at 14:50
  • Related: How should “Northern Europe” be capitalized?
    – herisson
    Oct 3, 2017 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


It depends on whether you're using it as the name of an area of a description of an area. When it's used as a name, you capitalize it:

  • I'm going to the East Coast this summer.
  • There are lots of farms in the Midwest.

When you're using it as a general description of a place, it's not capitalized:

  • The east coast of the U.S. is a popular destination for tourists.
  • Illinois is a midwestern state.
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    I think your second two examples could have gone either way. Convention plays a big part. In the UK we talk about 'the south coast', but rarely capitalise it, similarly with the 'west country'. Yet the West Midlands is to all intents a proper noun and always capitalised, as is East Anglia. The 'Home Counties' is the collective name given to the six counties which border London, but I am always at a loss as to whether to apply capitals.I think I will compose a question on this.
    – WS2
    Apr 29, 2015 at 14:46
  • This is really a matter of style; AP and Chicago do not capitalize derivative forms (thus the Midwest but the midwestern states), but APA does. Personally, I would capitalize in both your second cases, under the logic that Springfield has a Russian district not a russian district, but admittedly cannot explain my preference for continental breakfast and southern-fried chicken.
    – choster
    Apr 29, 2015 at 15:05
  • Russia is a proper noun, so adjectives derived from it would be capitalized as well, just like American, Chinese, German, etc. Directions like east and west, however, are not always capitalized. I think that's the difference.
    – Nicole
    Apr 29, 2015 at 15:22
  • @Nicole Midwest names a specific geographic region in my mind, not a direction or quadrant— no different from Russia or the Antarctic. One can't describe (at least in contemporary AmE) Hartford as being located in the Midwestern part of Connecticut or Shreveport being located in the Arctic part of Louisiana for instance.
    – choster
    Apr 29, 2015 at 15:58
  • @choster Well, Connecticut's too small to be divided into many parts of any name, but I wouldn't see anything wrong with referring to the midwestern part of Texas.
    – Nicole
    Apr 29, 2015 at 16:05

I consider that a general, common useage of the term requires lower case, whereas the specific name of an area, or named region, requires upper case

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