A county, like a city, is a geographical region in a state or country. There are two rules to determine whether or not you should capitalize the word “county” when you are writing. If you are writing the name of a county, the name and the word “county” should both begin with a capital letter. If you are writing about a generic county, the word “county” should NOT begin with a capital letter.
Is County Capitalized?
The word “county” can be capitalized depending on when and how it is used. When used generically to describe a county which could be any county, then the word “county” is lowercase. This also includes when the word “county” is used before a named place. If you are referring to a generic county and it isn’t given a specific name, the word “county” does not need to be capitalized.
For example, “I don’t know what county he lives in.”
However, when used as part of a proper noun, the word “county” is capitalized along with the rest of the proper name. In a sentence with a named county, the word “county” should be capitalized.
For example, “He lives in Smith County.”
The sentence could refer to any county, and so it does not need to be capitalized. The same is true of all generic places, like “a road,” or “that city.” Those phrases use what is called a determiner.
Kinds of determiners:
- Articles—a, an, the
- Quantifiers—some, many, few
- Interrogatives—which, what
If the sentence indicates a number, the word “county” is not capitalized.
For example, “He moved to a second county.”
If a sentence indicates a specific but the word “county” is separated from the name, then it also doesn’t need to be capitalized.
For example, “He lives in Smith, which is a county a few miles away.”
Even though that sentence makes it clear what county the author is referring to, “county” is not next to the name, so it doesn’t need to be capitalized.
You can find other examples of when the word “county” is capitalized and not capitalized below.
Examples of When “County” Is Capitalized
- King County streets are mostly one-way.
- Fairfax County Courthouse
- The County gave out several citizens’ awards.
- I live in George County.
- He moved from Smith County to George County.
Examples of When “County” Is Not Capitalized
- You can’t fight the county government.
- The county government is too bureaucratic.
- What county did you move to?
- I like the county you live in.
- Smith is such a nice county.
- He lives in Smith City, in the county with the same name.
Regardless, when writing a title for a book, article, or any publication, nouns should always be capitalized, so that even if it doesn’t have a name, “county” should be capitalized. If the title of a book is “The County I Lived In,” all of the words should begin with a capital even if the word “county” is generic.
To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.