Aisle 8

Is the Noun Preceding a Number Upper or Lowercase?

What about the following:

He was called to aisle 8.
The meeting was at building 50.
The accident happened on interstate 90.
Tom got off at exit 12.
Holyfield fell in round 4.
The cashier stole cash from register 7.
The incident happened at terminal 1

According to CMOS, words like “interstate” and “highway” are generally considered part of the name and capitalized: Interstate 90, Highway 66.

But all the other terms on the list—from “aisle 8” to “terminal 1”—would be treated as generic and lowercased.

4 thoughts on “Is the Noun Preceding a Number Upper or Lowercase?”

  1. The good news is that the English language and the people who practice it—especially in writing—demonstrate so many variations, consistently and otherwise, that actual errors go unrecognized,
    …well, except by professionals like you.
    Hmmm. On reading this response, I think I’ve made several. 😵‍💫

  2. I’ve read other, similar explanations for lowercasing the noun preceding a number, such as in the examples you cite. It’s an entirely flawed explanation, however. Someone will have to explain to me, in plain English, why — for example — the word “terminal” is less a part of “terminal 1” than the word “Interstate” is in “Interstate 90.” It’s entirely a distinction without any real difference.

    Paul Adams
    Editor, Informa

    1. Good question, Paul. The English language is always evolving. Currently, these are the rules for noun + number according to The Chicago Manual of Style.

      Check back next year and it may have changed.

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