States

The state of...

Always lowercase the word state in constructions such as, "the state of Michigan." In general, the construction the "state of" is unnecessary and should not be used, except as a nonspecific reference to the government of a state or in cases such as "state of Washington" or "state of New York," to distinguish between the state and the well-known city of the same name.

Use: "Funding was provided by the state of Michigan." (meaning the government).
Use: "He was born in Michigan." rather than, "He was born in the state of Michigan."
See similar style under cities.

When and how to abbreviate state names

Names of U.S. states should be spelled out in text in two cases: (1) when the name of the state appears alone (We traveled to Virginia in June.) and (2) when the name of the state is preceded by the name of a city and the state name could not be made parenthetical or eliminated from the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. (There is a Kalamazoo, North Carolina, as well as a Kalamazoo, Michigan.)

State names are abbreviated in text in two cases: (1) when used in an address and (2) when used to clarify location. When used as part of an address, two-letter USPS abbreviations should always be used. (For more information, write to Joan Jones, 23 Any St, Greensburg PA 15601-2001.) See also addresses. When used to clarify location, traditional abbreviations should be used. (We traveled to Mount Pleasant, Mich., for the football game.) See also Which cities need to be identified by state.

Tests for abbreviation

If the construction includes a ZIP code, it's an address; if it does not, it's a location. See also addresses.

Use USPS abbreviations in addresses. Use traditional abbreviations to clarify location.

State Abbreviations
Name USPS Traditional*
Alabama AL Ala.
Alaska AK Akaska
American Somoa AS Amer. Somoa
Arizona AZ Ariz.
Arkansas AR Ark.
California CA Calif.
Colorado CO Colo.
Connecticut CT Conn.
Delaware DE Del.
District of Columbia DC D.C.
Florida FL Fla.
Georgia GA Ga.
Hawaii HI Hawaii
Idaho ID Idaho
Illinois IL Ill.
Indiana IN Ind.
Iowa IA Iowa
Kansas KS Kan.
Kentucky KY Ky.
Louisiana LA La.
Maine ME Maine
Maryland MD Md.
Massachusetts MA Mass.
Michigan MI Mich.
Minnesota MN Minn.
Mississippi MS Miss.
Missouri MO Mo.
Montana MT Mont.
Nebraska NE Neb.
Nevada NV Nev.
New Hampshire NH N.H.
New Jersey NJ N.J.
New Mexico NM N.M.
New York NY N.Y.
North Carolina NC N.C.
North Dakota ND N.D.
Ohio OH Ohio
Oklahoma OK Okla.
Oregon OR Ore.
Pennsylvania PA Pa.
Puerto Rico PR P.R.
Rhode Island RI R.I.
South Carolina SC S.C.
South Dakota SD S.D.
Tennessee TN Tenn.
Texas TX Texas
Utah UT Utah
Vermont VT Vt.
Virginia VA Va.
Virgin Islands VI V.I.
Washington WA Wash.
West Virginia WV W.Va.
Wisconsin WI Wis.
Wyoming WY Wyo.

*States with five or fewer letters, plus Alaska and Hawaii, are not abbreviated.