A Complete List Of Abbreviations For States That Kids Should Know

Martha Martins
Oct 27, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Dec 14, 2021
Abbreviations for states in the US are unique codes for each state.

Did you know that each state in the US has a unique code?

This unique code is used to distinguish one state from the others. All the abbreviations are made up of only two letters.

So, let's learn about the state abbreviations. The abbreviations for the states in the US have been used instead of the full names of the states for a long time.

There are two abbreviations; one has fewer letters. Let us get to know the origins and uses of these abbreviations and which one is used for each state right here.

After finishing this article, you may also want to read our facts about Russia and facts about Cuba.

How many states are there?

There are 50 states in the US, and each of these states is known by an abbreviation.

We will discuss the names of the states and their abbreviations here. There are two state abbreviations for each state; one is the traditional abbreviation, while the other one is the postal abbreviation, otherwise known as the USPS abbreviation.

The state of Alabama is AL (USPS) and ALA; Alaska is AK (USPS) and ALASKA; Arizona is AZ (USPS) and ARIZ; Arkansas is AR and ARK; California is CA (USPS) and CALIF; Colorado is CO (USPS) and COL; the Connecticut abbreviation is CT (USPS) and CONN; Delaware is DE (USPS) and DEL; District of Columbia is DC (USPS) and DC; Florida is FL (USPS) and FLA; for Georgia, GA is used for both abbreviations.

Hawaii is HI (USPS) and HAWAII. Idaho is ID (USPS) and IDAHO; Illinois is IL (USPS) and ILL; the Indiana state abbreviation is IN (USPS) and IND; the Iowa abbreviation is IA (USPS) and IOWA.

Kansas is KS (USPS) and KANS.

Kentucky (KY) and Louisiana (LA) both use the same abbreviations for their USPS and traditional abbreviations; similarly for Maryland, MD is used for both; the Maine abbreviation is ME and MAINE; Massachusetts is MA and MASS; Michigan is MI and MICH; Minnesota is MN and MINN; Mississippi is MS and MISS; for Missouri, MO is used; Montana is MT and MONT; the Nebraska abbreviation is NE, and NEB' Nevada is NV and NEV; New Hampshire (NH) and New Jersey (NJ), use the same for both abbreviations.

For New Mexico, NM and N MEX are used; New York NY and NY; North Carolina is NC; For North Dakota, ND is used; Ohio's state abbreviations are OH and OHIO; OK and OKLA are used for Oklahoma; OR and ORE are used for Oregon; Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina have the same letters for both abbreviations which are PA, RI, and SC respectively; South Dakota is SD and S DAK; Tennessee is TN and TENN; Texas uses TX and TEX; Utah's state abbreviations are UT and UTAH.

Vermont (VT) and Virginia (VA) use the same for both USPS and traditional abbreviations; for the Virgin Islands, VI is used, and Washington has WA and WASH; West Virginia has WV and W VA; the abbreviations of Wisconsin are WI and WIS, and Wyoming is WY and WYO. The USPS abbreviation is the commonly used abbreviation for the states.

PR is used for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, despite being an unincorporated territory of the United States, has a dedicated abbreviation.

How are the abbreviations made?

The United States Postal Service or USPS standardized the official abbreviations for states. State postal codes are all two letters.

The two letters of the state postal codes are capitalized without any period between them. In other contexts, traditional abbreviations are used. The traditional abbreviation's first letter is a capital, while the other letters are lowercase, and each abbreviation ends with a period. There hasn't been much change in the state abbreviations, except for once in 1969.

This change happened to Nebraska, which changed from NB to NE. The change was made to avoid confusion with New Brunswick, which is a Canadian province. It also had the abbreviation NB, so to avoid confusion, the abbreviation of Nebraska was changed.

The standard or traditional abbreviation is used in addition to the official postal codes of the states. The traditional abbreviation was also made by the USPS. These abbreviations are longer, but sometimes both the official and traditional abbreviations can be the same with fewer letters.

State abbreviations are used quite frequently all over the USA.

When did abbreviations begin?

When did this method of abbreviation start to take place? What is the history behind it?

State abbreviation history dates back to 1831. This was when the first list of abbreviations was published. During that time, only around 28 states were part of the union. The list underwent many changes over the years. It was in 1963 that a solid system was established. In 1963, the US postal service underwent two major changes.

One was the introduction of zip codes, and the other was the two-letter state abbreviation implementation. The zip codes were five-digit numerical codes used for different regions in the United States. It started as a means to make shipping faster and easier with little to no error. In order to fit with zip codes, two-letter state abbreviations were started.

The addressing in post offices only allowed 23 characters, so there was a need to shorten the state abbreviations. These abbreviations have not undergone any changes since then. Mail in the US contains both the postal code and state abbreviation.

What are abbreviations used for?

The main use of abbreviations today is to send mail. We use abbreviations in addresses. It is also an identification tool for states now.

When the name of a state appears in lists, tabular matters, bibliographies, and mail addresses, it is usually done in its abbreviated form. The situations where an official state abbreviation and traditional state abbreviations are used are also different. If you are sending a letter, the abbreviation used in it is the official two-letter state abbreviation.

However, some style guides actually prefer traditional abbreviations in their writing. MLA style, AP style, and Chicago manual of style incorporate the longer traditional abbreviations over the official state abbreviations.

This is seen in some cases. Overall, the main use of abbreviations is to make shipping easier and to avoid confusion. The abbreviation of a state is not mistaken for another state for this reason.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article about abbreviations for states, then why not take a look at our facts about the Alabama state bird or facts about Alaska?

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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