Note that racial and ethnic terms are used both as nouns and as adjectives. Do not hyphenate these terms if they are used as a noun, but hyphenate them if they are used as an adjective. The following are some of the more common ethnic groups:
- African American (be sensitive to the true ethnicity of black people from other countries. See African American for further discussion.)
- Asian American
- European American
- Hispanic American (Americans with ancestors from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South and Central America)
- Mexican American (Chicano and Chicana refer specifically to those of Mexican descent)
- Native American is preferred (See Native American). American Indian is also acceptable.
- Caucasian (commonly used to refer to anyone with light skin)
- Latino and Latina (people of Latin American descent; less broad than Hispanic and preferred by some to Chicano and Chicana , which refer specifically to those of Mexican descent. Use the term preferred by the individual or group about whom you are writing.)
- People of color (for any non-European Americans and their descendants)
If a more specific racial and ethnic identification would seem stilted, the terms black and white may be used to refer to individuals of African-American and European-American ancestry. The terms are not proper nouns and so are not capitalized unless that is a particular group’s preference.
Other terms to consider: minorities, ethnic minorities, people.
Capitalize place names and regional terms when referring to specific locations, or place names specific to a period of history:
- When we visited my family in the South, I developed a taste for anything fried in lard.
- The avian flu outbreak in Southeast Asia precipitated the grisly slaughter of millions of chickens.
- Del Rio is where the feel of the border changes from South Texas to West Texas.
- He runs an STI clinic in East Baltimore.
- Assateague Island, on the Eastern Shore, is rife with mosquitoes and small, malnourished, feral horses.
- In Northwest Maryland you'll find the spectacular Cunningham Falls.
- Thankfully, the Northerners prevailed against the Southerners in the Civil War.
- During the Cold War, we rode our bicylces through Eastern Europe because there was so little gasoline.
Do not capitalize the points of the compass when used non-specifically:
- We borrowed a car, drove west for 72 hours, and arrived in California delirious.
- The northwestern region of Maryland is known for its for hog farms and manure lagoons.
- Baltimore is famous for its northern hospitality and southern efficiency.
- A north wind's a' gonna blow.
- Beware of fast-talking northerners.
- The herb can be found in many mountainous regions of eastern Europe.
Place room numbers after the building name.
Wolfe St. Bldg., W1600