Location Names

Mainland China and Outlying Regions

*Recent process change: All content referencing mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan must be reviewed and approved before distribution by SD Head APAC and SD Manager China.*

The names of many of the regions surrounding China have political implications. When discussing any of these regions—or any group that includes any of these regions—do not use the word “country.” “Market,” “region,” “economy,” and “location” are acceptable.

For example:

The following countries locations have seen strong market growth: China, Taiwan, and India.

Following is our guidance for particularly sensitive areas.

Location Guidance
China Not People’s Republic of China.
Hong Kong SAR SAR should be included in maps and lists. Hong Kong on its own can be used in regular text, just like the other cities on the Associated Press list (see below).

Do not use Hong Kong, China, or Hong Kong (China).

Do not spell out special administrative region in text, figures, or tables. Do add SAR to the Abbreviations list and spell out.

Do not use country in connection with Hong Kong; economy is acceptable.

Macau SAR SAR should be added in all cases in text and figures and tables.

Do not use Macau, China, or Macau (China). Do not spell out special administrative region. Do add SAR to the Abbreviations list and spell out.

Do not use country in connection with Macao; economy is acceptable.

Taiwan Not Taiwan (China). Do not use country in
connection with Taiwan; economy is acceptable.

Please consult the World Bank Editorial Style Guide for further guidelines on official location names, currencies used, and any special treatment.

For specific rules regarding maps of China, please see the Brand Center.

Other Special Cases

The following are some of the other locations for which sensitivity is required when discussing.

Location Guidance
Côte d’Ivoire Never Ivory Coast; note circumflex.
Diaoyu Islands (Chinese name); also called Senkaku in Japanese (claimed by both). Use with extreme caution. The choice of name used has political implications.
Dokdo Islands (Korean name); also called Takeshima in Japanese (claimed by North Korea, South Korea, and Japan). Use with extreme caution. The choice of name used has political implications.
North Korea Always use North Korea (not just Korea).
Paracel Islands Also known as Xisha Islands in Chinese and Hoàng Sa Islands in Vietnamese (claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam). Use with extreme caution. The choice of name used has political implications.
South Korea Always use South Korea (not just Korea).
Spratly Islands Claimed by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and to a lesser extent Malaysia and Brunei. Use with extreme caution. The choice of name used has political implications.


City Names

For cities on the Associated Press list (see below), do not use the state or country name. For all other cities, spell out the state or country name (i.e., do not use the abbreviation). Note that the style for references is different; see the References document.

When referring to our non-US offices, using the city names alone, without country mention, is sufficient (e.g., New York City, London, Hong Kong).

US Cities: No State Required

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Honolulu
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • New Orleans
  • New York City
  • Oklahoma City
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • St. Louis
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Washington, DC [note the exception to use the abbreviation]

Non-US Cities: No Country or Region Required

  • Amsterdam
  • Baghdad
  • Bangkok
  • Beijing
  • Beirut
  • Berlin
  • Brussels
  • Cairo
  • Djibouti
  • Dublin
  • Geneva
  • Gibraltar
  • Guatemala City
  • Havana
  • Helsinki
  • Hong Kong
  • Islamabad
  • Istanbul
  • Jerusalem
  • Johannesburg
  • Kuwait City
  • London
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Madrid
  • Mexico City
  • Milan
  • Monaco
  • Montreal
  • Moscow
  • Munich
  • New Delhi
  • Panama City
  • Paris
  • Prague
  • Quebec City
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Rome
  • San Marino
  • Sao Paulo
  • Shanghai
  • Singapore
  • Stockholm
  • Sydney
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto
  • Vatican City
  • Vienna
  • Zurich

Versus and vs.

This word is spelled out in prose but may be abbreviated to “vs.” in book, article, and presentation titles, in all levels of headings, and within tables (e.g., in a column head), figures (e.g., in a line label), and exhibits (e.g., in any entry). It is not abbreviated in the notes to figures, tables, or exhibits.

“Therefore,” “thus,” and other conjunctive adverbs

When “therefore,” “accordingly,” “nevertheless,” “consequently,” “thus,” “next,” and other such conjunctive adverbs begin a sentence, they are followed by a comma. Sometimes when they are in the middle of a sentence, they are functioning more as plain adverbs, to add emphasis, and you may or may not use commas around them. Omitting the commas is appropriate with the short adverbs: “thus,” “then,” “first,” “next.” When a longer pause in the sentence is desired, use a two (or more) syllable adverb (e.g., “therefore”) and use commas around it. When only a small break is desired, use the short form (e.g., “thus”) and no commas.

Examples: Accordingly, the profits rose.

Thus, the returns are abnormally skewed.

The returns, therefore, are abnormally skewed.

The returns are thus abnormally skewed.

The product has a peculiar sales pattern; thus, the returns are abnormally skewed.


“There” means “in that place” and shouldn’t be used as a lazy way to start a sentence. “There is/there are” constructions can almost always be stated more directly and concisely.

Example: “There are some occasions that require formal dress” is better as “Some occasions require formal dress.”

Singular vs. plural

Do not use “they” with a singular pronoun or noun, including a manager, a management, a board of directors, or a company.

Examples: an investment manager does not . . . but he or she may . . . .

IBM has no representatives . . . it does not want them

the board is voting on the question; it will report the vote tomorrow.

“The question is”

We use two forms for “the question is.” One form is to simply construct a declarative sentence (“The question is how long we should wait.”). Note that the sentence is declarative, so it ends with a period, with no comma after “is.” If you want to end with a question mark, set the sentence up in the second form, with a comma; capitalize the first letter of the question if it is a long question, such as eight words or more (“The question is, how long should we wait?”; “The question is, What should we do to avoid making this mistake in the future?”).

“Problematic” vs. “problem”

Careful writers do not consider “problematic” a synonym for “a problem.” “Problematic” means iffy, not definite or settled, open to question or debate. Avoid using it in the context of “is a problem.”

Examples: Whether we will find a solution is problematic [meaning questionable]. Finding a solution is a problem [meaning poses difficulties].

The phrase “a number”

According to Webster’s English Usage, “a number” always requires a plural verb because the meaning is plural: A number of employees have recently applied for dental coverage. But “the number” is singular: The number of employees who have dental coverage increases every year.


“Over” and “during” are not synonymous when used for time: “over this period” means from a point at the beginning of the time period to a point at the end of the time period; “during this period” means within the time period.

Example: During this period, prices fluctuated wildly, but the growth in the rate of return over the period was incredible.”

To check your use of the terms, try using “in” for “during” and “for” for “over.” (Sometimes, “in” and “for” may be used in place of “during” and “over.”)

Usage has made “over the long term” acceptable.