Posted on 4 Comments

Are you flying your state flag upside-down?

Some U.S. State flags are symmetrical and some are almost symmetrical. With a symmetrical flag, there is no top or bottom, you just fly the flag. However, the flags that are almost symmetrical can give you fits, if you are careless and don’t pay attention to which way is up.

In this article I want to clarify the subtle differences in the almost symmetrical flags.

To begin with, here are the three State flags that have no obvious top or bottom. They can be flown either way.

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico

The flags in this next group are almost symmetrical, but have little signs that help know the right direction to hoist the flag. Look carefully at the pictures, then I’ll discuss the right way to fly these flags.


  • Maryland
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • District of Columbia

The Maryland flag appears symmetrical at first glace, but the opposing corners are different. One is black and the other is gold. I think I have this example right-side up, but it’s easy to confuse.

The Ohio flag is the only flag that is not rectangular in shape, and is easily flown upside-down if you’re in a hurry. To fly this flag correctly, pay attention to the five-pointed stars which need to point up.

The Tennessee flag has three star in the center, two on top, and one on the bottom. That is the secret, two stars on top. To correctly fly this flag requires the two stars be on top while the single star is on bottom..

The Texas flag has two vertical stripes, white and red, with a five pointed star. To fly the Texas flag properly the white stripe goes on top and the single point of the star pointing up. I remember by this rhyme, “white is right.”

The DC flag includes the three stars across the top, not the bottom. Again five-pointed stars with the single point indicating up.

The most telling part of four of these flags is the five-pointed stars. They tell the most about correctly flying a State flag, so look carefully at the flags flying in front of your business. Are they flying correctly?

4 thoughts on “Are you flying your state flag upside-down?

  1. The image of the Tennessee flag shown here is inaccurate, as is the explanation for how to fly it. The official state flag of Tennessee does not have two stars on top and one on bottom; it has one star on top, one on bottom, and one in between.

    The way to remember which way is up? The highest of the three stars should always be the one nearest the flagpole.

    But don’t be embarrassed. Hardly anybody in Tennessee knows the proper way to fly the state’s flag.

    Here are the relevant rules from the Tennessee Code:
    “The arrangement of the three (3) stars shall be such that the centers of no two (2) stars shall be in a line parallel to either the side or end of the flag, but intermediate between same; and the highest star shall be the one nearest the upper confined corner of the flag.”

    1. Thank you for writing. I will follow up on your information.
      Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  2. I live in Franklin Tennessee. It is very embarrassing to have the state flag flying upside down in front of the courthouse. Officers of the court assure me it is correct. This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    1. The flag of Tennessee is definitely one of the harder flags to get right going up the pole. You almost need two illustrations to show them—one correct and one with the flag upside down. I’d be tempted to create one to hand out, if I saw this happening very much. I appreciate your frustration Brad, and thank you for writing.
      Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

Leave a Reply