Can someone please help me figure out the rules for capitalization concerning northern and Northern (or any other direction for that matter)?
I encountered this problem, when I asked myself if "northern NGO", as in an NGO which has its origin and ownership in the north (developed world) and is opposite to "southern NGOs", needs to be capitalized (using American English). I still don't know the answer and would be thankful for your help.
In my Webster's New World College Dictionary (3rd Edition) I find the following:
1) in, of, to, toward, of facing the north
2) from the north (e.g. a northern wind)
3) [N-]* of or characteristic of the North
4) [N-]* designating a dialect of American English spoken in New England
* = Americanism
I don't understand the difference between numbers 1) and 3). They both seem to imply the same usage of the word "northern", but once it is capitalized (which seems to be an American thing) and once it is written in lower-case. But when do I use which version?
I checked other online websites and found contradicting information.
for example: The Library Online (http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=48
Capitalize northern, north, etc. when used as part of proper names to designate a world division. DO NOT capitalize when used to indicate parts of states or provinces.
Examples: Eastern Hemisphere, southern California
But the free dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Northern
northern - situated in or coming from regions of the north; "the northern hemisphere";
So, if my NGOs are situated in or coming from regions of the north, does this make them Northern or northern NGOs?
Thank you for your help!