Is State Capitalized?

It’s not easy to know when to capitalize the word “state.” It can actually be quite confusing. So, should you capitalize the word state?

Is State Capitalized?

The word “state” should be capitalized when it comes after the name of a state. For example, “Michigan State.” It seems pretty easy to understand but for residents of Washington State and New York State, it can get confusing. The citizens of these states need to differentiate themselves from other geographical entities, namely Washington D.C and New York City.

For all other state citizens, there’s no need for one to use the word “State” when describing where they are from. For example, it is enough for one to say, “I am from Colorado.” They don’t have to say, “I am from Colorado State.” However, it is not enough for a Washington State resident to simply say, “I am from Washington.” Such a person will have to specify and say, “I am from Washington State.”

Capitalizing “State” in “United States”

The word State must be capitalized when talking about the United States as a country. For example, “Kenya’s first direct flight to the United States was commissioned late last year.” You can also say, “My cousin relocated to the States last month.”

You must also capitalize the word state when it forms the full name of a specific body. For example, “The State Finance Department.” The word should only be capitalized if it forms part of the name of the specific body. For example, you cannot say, “ the State’s Finance Department.” It will have to be as follows, “the state’s Finance department.”

Situations Where the Word State Shouldn’t Be Capitalized

The word state shouldn’t be capitalized if it comes before the name of the state. For example, it should be “the state of Colorado” and not “the State of Colorado”.

The word state shouldn’t be capitalized if it is used in place of a state’s name. For example, you should say, “She is a state employee.”

In addition, you shouldn’t capitalize the word state when it is used in a general sense. For example, “The state of affairs in Colorado State is quite okay.”


The English language is quite divided when it comes to when the word “state” should be capitalized. Scholars and language guides often contradict each other. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook contradict each other on whether the word “state” should be capitalized if it comes after the state’s name.

It is easier to follow the guide provided above to avoid confusion. It will definitely help your state of mind.

To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.


  1. I wanted to leave a note in case others in the court reporting/scoping field come upon this article:

    Morson’s English Guide for Court Reporting, Rule 222, says that you would capitalize “the State of California.”

    Capitalize city and state when these words precede the name of a city or state and refer to it in a corporate sense, that is, when the name suggests a corporation or company with a capacity to hire, fire, and conduct business. Ex. I worked for the State of Ohio for 25 years. Ex. The suit alleges that the State of Iowa did not properly advertise for bids on road construction. Ex. The burden of proof is on the State of Utah to prove that my client had access to those files.

  2. Here’s an obscure usage that I can’t find a clarification on: “You may encounter certain types of disease in U.S. Pacific Island territories that you would not encounter in the states.” I’m assuming that it would NOT be capitalized because it’s referring to the states generally and is not a shortening of United States, but I’d love to have that confirmed.

    • Since you’re referring to all of the states in the United States, not a subset, you would capitalize “states” in this case. You write “You may encounter certain types of disease in U.S. Pacific Island territories that you would not encounter in the States.”


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