You should only capitalize directions, such as north, south, east, and west, when you are referring to the direction as a proper noun, such as “in the South” or “up North.” If you are merely referring to a direction, such as “go south on I-90,” then you should keep the direction lowercase.
Some common examples of when you should capitalize the direction include:
- down South
- the Deep South
- out West
and when you should lowercase the direction:
- in the south of France
- go north on I-90 and then east
What about capitalizing northern, southern, eastern, western?
The same rules apply to capitalizing southern as capitalizing directions with a -ern at the end. If you are referring to a group of proper nouns such as “the Southern States.” However, if you’re referring to a general location, such as “the southern winds” then southern should be lowercase.
What about capitalizing Northerner, Southerner, Easterner, Westerner?
You should always capitalize these words since it refers to a region (a proper noun) where a group of people are from.
To know what other words you should capitalize, try our free title capitalization tool.