There’s a lot of talk and writing online about the New Zealand government’s super city plan for Auckland.

The correct style for super city is two lower case words. The term is not a name, at least not yet. It is a description. Capitals are only used for proper names, so there shouldn’t be any confusion or question over the term.

Nor is it one word. Over the past twenty years or so there’s been something of a fashion to run words together and separate the component words with a capital letter. If a company or organisation wishes to do that with its name, or the name of a product, it has every right to do so. But there’s no grammatical or logical reason to make a single word out of super city. Would you write Auckland is a BigCity? Of course not.

Fairfax’s Stuff.co.nz web site is confused about this. At the time of writing the newspaper company’s site has an Auckland Super City page which offers every permutation: one word, two words, upper case lower case. The New Zealand Herald is just as confused as this search shows: “supercity” Search Results. In fact it adds a hitherto unseen variation: Supercity, all one word with a single capital.

For clarifaction and background you may like to read my previous article about capital letters.

6 thoughts on “Is Auckland a super city?

  1. What makes you think there are subs or even spelling checkers available at our esteemed news publishing duopoly?

    • Well I know Fairfax has a subbing “centre of excellence”. And Pagemasters has a contract to provide APN (the NZ Herald) with subbing services. Whether these places actually deliver on their promises is another issue.

  2. The super city has changed over the past year or so. For some, it’s become a being like a council and taken on capital letters. When it’s used adjectivally, I hyphenate it. Other people throw hyphens around at different times from me and some people like capitals, especially if they’ve belonged to an Organisation which capitalises Lots of Words. The 2 words should probably carry an apostrophe on one of their shoulders, because apostrophes are popular, especially if they can be placed incorrectly.
    But I’m mystified about 2 of your capital/lower-case decisions. Why is the New Zealand Herald capitalised when the New Zealand government is not? I’d have thought the Government was a superior entity. And the other mystery: Why did “clarifaction” not take a capital F?

    • The New Zealand Herald is a simple case. It’s in capitals because it is a proper noun – the newspaper’s name

      Government depends on what ever style book you follow. Most newspapers (and me) look at it this way. The formal name is The Government of New Zealand. This takes capitals because it is a proper noun. The term New Zealand government is an informal name. Here New Zealand is a proper noun, but not government. It’s picky, but The Guardian, The Economist, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review style guides all follow the same logic. I seem to recall The Dominion and The National Business Review style was similar, but it’s a long time since I worked for either title.

      • Picky, indeed. But who’s pickiest? The New Zealand Government seems to think that version of its name is a proper noun and capitalises it. By your logic, if I turned the University of Auckland around, I would refer to it as Auckland university. As there are several universities in Auckland, making the u lower case would lead unecessarily to confusion.
        Back to the super city. Once the new council starts work, I suspect use of the super-city tag will fall away, and when it is used it’ll be in lower case – based on your logic, which in that example I agree with.

        • It’s a good point, but most newspaper style guides would insist you stick with; University of Auckland.

          Of course, the most important thing is to stick with one style guide and stay consistent.

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