Compass points – Rules for the correct writing

Proofreading in English – Letrário’s team advice for writing compass points

Lower case for “east”, “west”, “north”, “south”, except when part of a name: “North Korea”, “South Africa”, “West End”. Lower case for vaguer areas such as the American “north-east”, “north-west”, “south-east”, “south-west”. Also lower-case for the adjectives: “midwestern”, “western”, “southern”.

The regions of Africa are “southern”, “east”, “west” and “north Africa”. But “South Africa” is the name of the country.

Europe’s divisions are now geographically imprecise, so use lower case for “central”, “eastern” and “western Europe”.

Use “West Germany” (“West Berlin”) and “East Germany” (“East Berlin”) only in historical references. They are now “west” or “western Germany” (“western Berlin”) and “east” or “eastern Germany” (“eastern Berlin”).


The Economist Style Guide, 11th Edition, 2015, p. 23