Section 4: Geographic locations

4.1 Abbreviations

Spell out the names of provinces, territories, countries and states in running text, with the exception of BC, NWT and PEI (please see below).

BC, NWT and PEI are acceptable in running text for second and subsequent references to British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island.

Abbreviations may be used in lists and tables. When doing so, format abbreviations of provinces and territories according to Canada Post standards.


4.2 Capitalization

Capitalize regions but not their derivatives. Use lower case to indicate mere direction or position.

the West (region of Canada), Western Canada
West Coast, the coast
Lower Mainland
the Maritimes
Vancouver Island, the island
western BC

4.3 French place names in Canada

Only two municipalities in Canada have two official forms of their names, one in French and one in English: Grand Falls and Caissie Cape (Grand-Sault and Cape-de-Caissie) in New Brunswick.

All other municipalities have one authorized form. Montréal and Québec (City) retain their accents in English.

For a list of official geographic names in Canada, please refer to NRCAN’s Geographical Names in Canada site. 

4.4 Indigenous place names 

UVic supports ongoing efforts to restore the use of traditional place names and foster respect for Indigenous knowledge and culture. 

When using Indigenous place names, avoid diminishing their legitimacy through unnecessary parallel use of colonial place names.  

Where Indigenous place names are either well-known or formally accepted, do not cross-reference them with superseded colonial names (e.g. Queen Charlotte Islands for Haida Gwaii).

Where Indigenous place names have yet to reach wide enough use to allow readers to situate them geographically, a supplementary reference point may be appropriate.

the Ye’yumnuts site near Duncan, BC

PKOLS, in Saanich’s Mount Douglas Park

Tl’ches, the Chatham and Discovery islands off the eastern coast of Oak Bay

When referring to contemporary settlements, avoid using “reserve” when reference can be made to community, ancestry or home instead.

See also—Section 5: Inclusive language, in particular 5.2 (Indigenous Peoples) and 5.7 (Typography and pronunciation support)

4.5 International spelling and transliteration

Please refer to the Global Affairs Canada website for a complete listing of countries and their accepted spellings.