User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When making a drop down to select state is it generally preferred to put DC or District of Columbia? Should you just go with DC if all other states are abbreviated and District of Columbia otherwise?

I feel like for most states the thought process is Full Name --> Abbreviation but with DC, I think people generally think Abbreviation --> Full Name

share|improve this question
Could you have both? – RedSirius Nov 22 '13 at 16:05
What are you doing with the rest of the states? If you are using the two later abbreviations for the rest, use DC. If you are using the whole name of the state/territory, use District of Columbia. There is no reason to do it differently then the rest. People who live in the Distric of Columbia know what the abbreviation is, they will find it either way. – sn3ll Nov 25 '13 at 15:36
@sn3ll please see the second sentence in my question – Ryan Nov 25 '13 at 16:49
@RedSirius I could but that seems redundant? – Ryan Nov 25 '13 at 16:49
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would go with DC. As a resident of the city that deals with these drop downs often, I am almost always looking for DC. District of Columbia is an okay choice, but DC is what it's called primarily and what most people probably look for.

I wouldn't choose Washington, DC, if only for the reason that few drop downs seem to use this so residents probably aren't used to it.

share|improve this answer

Use DC unless you can use Washington, DC.

Despite the formal name of "District of Columbia," DC is more commonly referred to as "Washington, DC." when not abbreviated. Your users may look for this when searching the list. From Wikipedia:

"Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, 'the District', or simply D.C..."

Depending on the application, consider the autocomplete pattern to address the problem of ambiguity when a user might refer to the same entity in several different ways.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.