Would You Put a Hyphen in "a Northwestern California landmark"?


Russ in New Jersey had a question about hyphens: In “northwestern California landmark” should “northwestern California” be hyphenated?

“I’m not sure if it’s simply a matter of preference or if the combination of a direction or geographic location and/or proper noun play into some rule,” he wrote.

My answer: I would never put a hyphen in “northwestern California landmark,” and I would be surprised and a little put off to see it hyphenated in a professionally edited publication. But I don’t know why I see it this way.

I’ve been doing this editing stuff so long that, in my mind, some things just are. No reason. Or at least, no reason I can remember. No one hyphenates “northwestern California landmark” so I don’t hyphenate “northwestern California landmark.”

But of course, the answers are out there. There’s even an answer to the question of whether the N in northern should be capitalized. They're all here in my recent column.

Tags: , , ,