I'm working on a website that will, on some pages, display the city names and IATA codes of airports.

Screenshot of a list of airport cities and codes

However, some cities have multiple commercial airports, and require an airport name as well. (For example, in the screenshot above, Midway and O’Hare are two different airports that are both in Chicago.) I'm trying to figure out the best way to append the airport name onto the city when clarification is necessary.

I've seen several ways of doing this:

Em Dash: Chicago–O’Hare

Seen on:

  • Wikipedia (lists of airlines and airports served by a particular airport)
  • My current tentative design

Hyphen: Chicago-O’Hare

Seen on:

  • Many airport flight monitor boards
  • Electronic boarding passes (United)
  • Paper boarding passes (United)

Space: Chicago O’Hare

Seen on:

  • A few airport flight monitor boards
  • Paper boarding passes (American Airlines)
  • Flight search websites (American Airlines)

Parentheses: Chicago (O’Hare)

Seen on:

  • Flight search websites (United)

So there are clearly a lot of ways that airport names have been appended to cities. Is there a correct way?

  • That is an option, but I also don't want to include airport names for airports that aren't ambiguous, similar to how flight monitor boards do it.
    – bogardpd
    Oct 9, 2015 at 2:24
  • Just an opinion: I like the parentheses option. It's very clear, it separates the 2 words perfectly and will not be confusing if you ever need to use it with a city name that already has an em dash. If a city has many airports and if this has to be written on a single line, maybe it could be written this way: Chicago (O'Hare/Midway). You can also use the • or [ ] or | if you want to be a bit more stylish or different. Example: Chicago [O'Hare|Midway] or Chicago | O'Hare • Midway, etc.
    – go-junta
    Oct 9, 2015 at 5:42
  • You did well by researching how others write this. But did you not find one site using colons? As it is a refinement of the city name, as in "Chicago: O’Hare", which, to me, reads naturally as "Chicago, and to be precise: O'Hare".
    – Jongware
    Oct 9, 2015 at 9:11
  • @Jongware I didn't find any using colons, but I'm not opposed to ideas I didn't find or list.
    – bogardpd
    Oct 9, 2015 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


This is just my point of view so treat it accordingly.

I don't think there's a correct as in "by the book" way of doing this, and my approach is to see which of the options is easiest to understand and takes less time to figure out or search through.

I used your image to create and visualize all four of your options and the one that stood up visually was the Parentheses.

It's clean and it's easy to figure out, therefore my bet is on this:

enter image description here


Just now I saw the comment by @go-meek and he has a good point when he says "and will not be confusing if you ever need to use it with a city name that already has an em dash." , though I would not agree with combining the airports in a single line since all airports have a different IATA code and this would generate another problem.

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