Question on Capitalization of compass directions

I can’t remember how the compass directions are capitalized in American English. It’s probably the same in the UK. Does anyone know when to capitalize compass directions and when not to, as in a room description?


A silver sword is mounted on the South wall.

In the western wall is the back door of the house.

You hear a faint sound to the West.

Not sure about UK conventions, but none of those examples require capitalization. The general rule follows,

‘Go west, young man.’

‘The young man is in the West.’

In other words, capitalize directions-as-names, but that’s it.

Ahh, OK.

This may clear it up further:

“The sun sets in the west.”

“Industrialisation is rampant in the West.”

Those are both correct. The difference is that the first is relative to your current position, whereas the second is a proper name designating a specific geographical region on the globe. No matter where you are on Earth, the West is always in the same place, but where the west is changes. 8)