[Talk-us] Directional Prefix/Postfix Proposal

Kevin Atkinson kevin at atkinson.dhs.org
Sun Aug 1 02:54:48 BST 2010

Since someone objected to my proposed changes to Salt Lake City, I am 
going to go ahead and give my proposal for how I think directional 
prefixes should be handled.  I am going to stay out of the debate on 
street name abbreviations and focus on just the directional prefix/postfix 
parts.  I want to come an agreement on talk-us, and then would like to 
make it an official standard (at least in the U.S.).


A full street address included more than just a Number and a Street, it 
also includes a directional prefix.  Vid the kid, gave an excellent 
overview at http://vidthekid.info/misc/osm-abbr.html.  For example (from 
his page) in the address:
   4242 S Champion Ave E
The 'S' is a directional prefix and the 'E' is the suffix and in:
   1337 Rainbow Dr SW
The 'SW' is a directional suffix (really a quadrant suffix).

I would like to formally propose two things

   1) An exception to the abbreviation rule for directional indicators
      with the fully expanded name going into "alt_name"
   2) New tags to record the presence of directional indicators in the


I propose an exception to the abbreviation rule be made for directional 
indicators.  'North, 'South', 'East', and 'West' when a directional 
indicator (and not part of the street name) shall be abbreviated 'N.', 
'S.', 'E.', and 'W.' (with a period, will explain why below), and 
Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest shall be abbreviated as 'NW', 
'SW', 'SE', and 'NW' (without any periods).  The fully expanded name may 
be included in "alt_name".

Please note that when a street name included a number and a direction for 
example "700 South" I consider the direction part of the name and not a 
suffix, hence (for now) it should be abbreviated.


1) When a directional indicator is included as part of the street sign it 
is almost universally in smaller letters and hence of less importance. 
Abbreviating emphases this fact.

2) Unlike street name indications, the abbreviations for directions are 
fairly standard (with the exception of South sometimes being 'So' to avoid 
confusion with Street, but that is not used very much, and 'S' is never 
an accepted abbreviation for Street).

3) Spelling out the prefix can lead to ambiguous situations where it is 
unclear if the prefix is part of the street name (vid the kid gave several 
examples in his web page)

4) Single letter shall end with a period to avoid confusion with single 
letter street names (E Street) or route designators (County Route E, but I 
have no idea where that is used).

5) The fully expanded name may be included using the "alt_name" tag to aid 
those searching for an address.


I propose two new tags:

If the directional prefix is not part of the name than the appropriate tag 
shall be used to indicate the need for a directional prefix in an 
address.  North, South, etc, shall be abbreviated as one of
   'N' 'S' 'E' 'W', 'NW' 'SW', 'NE', 'SE'
There is no need for a period here.

If it is included in the word "included" shall be used instead.  This 
means the the first word (for a prefix) or the last word (for a suffix) is 
a directional indicator and shall be left in abbreviated form by name 
correction bots and the like.

Some Examples)

To encode "South 700 East" in Salt Lake City:
   name = "S. 700 East"
   name_prefix = "included"
   alt_name = "South 700 East"
OR if the prefix is not included:
   name = "700 East"
   name_prefix = "S"
   alt_name = "South 700 East"

To encode "South West Temple" in Salt Lake City:
   name = "S. West Temple"
   name_prefix = "included"
   alt_name = "South West Temple"
(as an aside, it should never be written "SW Temple", as google maps has 

"K Street NW" in Washington DC,
   name = "K Street NW"
   name_suffix = "included"
   alt_name = "K Street Northwest" (would anyone really write this?)


Comments welcome.  I would like to get a clear indication on where people 
stand on my proposal, so please clearly indicate if you overall agree or 
disagree with my proposal.

If most people agree with me, I would like to know the proper procedure 
for making this into an official standard to follow (for at least the 

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