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AP style says we are 'Southern Oregon'

I got some friendly flack from an East Coast member of a hobby forum I frequent. “I didn’t know there was a Southern Oregon,” referring to the capital “S.” At the risk of ruffling our local egos, when is it Southern Oregon, and when should it be just southern Oregon?

— Steve in Central Point

Southern Oregon, like East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and Northern California, get the capital treatment because we follow the Associated Press Stylebook when it comes to regions.

We lowercase a word that refers to a compass direction, such as east Medford or west Medford.

But, according to AP, a capitalized direction is preferred “in denoting widely known sections such as “Southern California” and “West Texas.” We use that logic when referring to the Oregon Coast, rather than the Oregon coast.

Southern Oregon would be probably be spelled with a lowercase “s” by a paper in Philadelphia or some other far-off market, because Southern Oregon is not widely known there. But we use Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon, because those regions are well known here in Oregon.

“If in doubt,” AP says, “use lowercase.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.