In the UK, which of the following regions, none of which have any administrative significance, should be given capital letters? I have arranged them according to my own inclinations.

With capitals

West Midlands, East Anglia, The Lake District, Scottish Borders, The Highlands, The Home Counties, The Yorkshire Dales, The Fens, The Broads, The Cotswolds, The New Forest, The Channel Islands, The Brecon Beacons, North Wales

Without capitals

The south coast, The west country, The western isles, The isles of Scilly, The north Norfolk coast, The north downs, The south downs, The East Anglian heights The Derbyshire dales

closed as primarily opinion-based by Andrew Leach Apr 29 '15 at 15:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • West Midlands does have administrative signifcance. The North Downs and South Downs are specific proper names. How is this question anything but opinion-based, or intended to spark discussion? Please edit the question to include justification that it is not. – Andrew Leach Apr 29 '15 at 15:42
  • I disagree with @Andrew Leach. Amongst the agencies that put these terms in print, there's a broad consensus, in line I think with Chris Harland's reply. – David Garner Apr 29 '15 at 16:02
  • @AndrewLeach Your action I believe answers my question. You are saying it is 'primarily opinion based', which is what I am getting from people who have provided more specific answers. And, yes, sorry about the West Midlands. – WS2 Apr 29 '15 at 16:25
  • In the UK in proper English, North,South, East and West always have capital letters. – bamboo Apr 29 '15 at 17:38
  • @bamboo I've just done a search on today's edition of The Independent, and the only places where west is given a capital W is where it forms part of a proper noun e.g. West Sussex, West Baltimore,West Riding, West End. Otherwise where it appears in simple text it is not capitalised e.g. southernmost of the Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland. I am, however, interested in what you say. Is this something you were taught at school? – WS2 Apr 29 '15 at 18:04

Firstly, I would say that where you are using "isles of Scilly", it should definitely be "Isles of Scilly" as that is a specific place name.

However, after that it is, I'll admit, a grey area. Personally, I think that you are correct with south coast, west country, north Norfolk coast and East Anglian heights. But I believe that western Isles would be more acceptable and think that the North and South Downs should be capitals as they are referring to actually geographical place names. Also, Derbyshire Dales should be capital as you have for the Yorkshire Dales above.

Of course, if you use them in the manner that you have I don't think anyone can really criticise you because, as with the use of the apostrophe, English is a fluid language and changing all the times. I think some of your places without capitals merely reflect the more modern (almost txt speak style) that is growing in the language.

  • Very good answer. Clearly it can largely be a matter of individual discretion. – WS2 Apr 29 '15 at 16:23

Well, some of them show up in a Google search for the terms.

The Disability Rights UK publication Holidays 2012 in the British Isles: A guide for disabled people uses the terms,

North West England

Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.


North, South and West Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire and Kingston-upon- Hull districts.


South East Scotland

Edinburgh, Falkirk, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders.

South Wales

The area that formed the counties of Glamorgan and Gwent including Cardiff and Swansea.

West Midlands


Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands

Isle of Man

You could also look at the Wikipedia articles “List of counties of the United Kingdom” & “Regions of England”, but I guess you already have.

  • These places are not counties. They are regions that have no political or administrative significance, a bit like New England, the Rocky Mountains, or the great Lakes region, would have in America. My attention was drawn to the dichotomy of whether to use capitals by another OP who asked about 'east coast*. It seems clear that a lot is left to the writers discretion. – WS2 Apr 29 '15 at 16:21

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