Or Winston-Salem Metropolitan area? Which one of the three are the correct form?

Also if I add state names in metropolitan areas, should I add it after the city name or should I add it after (M)etropolitan (A)rea?

  • Winston-Salem metropolitan area in North Carolina
    – Lambie
    Jan 3, 2017 at 21:33
  • Your question is whether to capitalize the words metropolitan and area in the phrase?
    – cobaltduck
    Jan 3, 2017 at 21:40
  • @cobaltduck Yes, sorry for the confusion. Jan 3, 2017 at 21:47
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the obvious place to conduct research is with the relevant administrational body to see which variant/s they use. Jan 4, 2017 at 0:21

2 Answers 2


I thought it would help to examine this question via n-grams. First, I tried a case-sensitive search of the three phrases metropolitan area, Metropolitan area, and Metropolitan Area. Not surprisingly, in this case the version of all lower case was the clear winner.

enter image description here

I then added the name Winston-Salem in front and tried again. Alas, Google failed to return any results at all. I tried a different city name instead, specifically Detroit. This time, the results are a little less distinct. The obvious loser is the mixed case version, but the versions with both caps and both lower are virtually tied, with some variations over time I cannot explain.

enter image description here

I would have to conclude that this ultimately comes to down to either personal preferences, or may to the specific style guide in use if writing for an organization.

  • 1
    I tried New York, since it's the most mentioned North American city. The one with both lowercase has more references. Jan 3, 2017 at 22:27

The Winston-Salem Metropolitan Area is a proper noun, and should be capitalized, much like the Mississippi River, or the Golden Gate Bridge and regions such as "Silicon Valley" (a region being exactly what an MSA or metropolitan are is).

  • 1
    Referring to a particular metropolitan area does not make it a proper noun, any more than referring to Cadillac engines requires Cadillac Engines. The Winston-Salem metropolitan area is simply the metropolitan area surrounding Winston-Salem— formally, the Winston-Salem, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, a component of the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point Combined Statistical Area. But U.S. Census Bureau definitions differ from those in popular usage, and are only defined at the county-level, so it's much more common to speak in terms of metropolitan areas than of MSAs.
    – choster
    Jan 3, 2017 at 23:49

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