Saturday, March 22, 2014

Which Cities Stand Alone, and Which Really Shouldn't

Most copy editors have memorized the list of cities that stand alone — i.e., the places that don't need to be accompanied by a state name to be recognized. According to AP style, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and 27 other U.S. cities stand alone. San Jose, Nashville and Kansas City do not. (In fairness, Kansas City could have avoided confusion by not adopting the same city name on both sides of a state line.)

United Airlines uses a different system. In its list of arrivals and departures, St. Louis, San Diego and Salt Lake City are all accompanied by state names. (You know, because of all those other Salt Lake Cities out there — it could get confusing.)

However, Thunder Bay and Regina get to stand alone. Huh?

I'm vaguely aware of Thunder Bay (it's somewhere in Ontario). But I had to use Google to remind myself where Regina was.

It's the capital of Saskatchewan.

I guess United is assuming that people traveling to Canadian cities know where they are. But c'mon, Regina is not even the largest city in Saskatchewan. (That honor goes to Saskatoon.)

So I think the ruling should be obvious here: Regina does not get to stand alone.