Capitalize the first word of any sentence or direct quotation.

When you quote someone, begin the person's words with a capital. If you interrupt the statement with a comment such as "she said," or "he reported," do not capitalize the first word of the interrupting phrase and do not capitalize the words that continue the quoted statement after the interruption. ("We will have to continue later," the contractor said, "because of the late hour.")

EXAMPLES

Incorrect

  1. the partners decided to incorporate.
  2. The manual states, "when customers purchase infrequently, they need the support of distribution specialization."
  3. The buyer said, "we were there," and continued after a pause, "But did not participate."

Correct:

  1. The partners decided to incorporate.
  2. The manual states, " When customers purchase infrequently, they need the support of distribution specialization."
  3. The buyer said, "We were there," and continued after a pause, "but did not participate."

 

Capitalize the first word of each item in a displayed list.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

Jim announced that the following items would not be included in the sale of his SUV:

1. professionally-installed stereo system
2. custom seat covers
3. personalized floor mats
4. car alarm

Correct:

Jim announced that the following items would not be included in the sale of his SUV:

1. Professionally-installed stereo system
2. Custom seat covers
3. Personalized floor mats
4. Car alarm

 

If the word after a colon begins a complete sentence, capitalize it.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. The partnership's profits and losses will be shared among the partners: co-owner Jane will receive 40 percent of the total, and co-owner Tom, 60 percent.
  2. This document has one purpose: To state the ground rules.
  3. The contract had a hidden clause: the contractor should not have received full reimbursement for his expenses.

Correct:

  1. The partnership's profits and losses will be shared among the partners: Co-owner Jane will receive 40 percent of the total, and co-owner Tom, 60 percent.
  2. This document has one purpose: to state the ground rules.
  3. The contract had a hidden clause: The contractor should not have received full reimbursement for his expenses.

 

In titles and headings, capitalize the first word and every important word.

Capitalize the first word and every important word in titles and headings. Unless it is the first word of the title or heading, do not capitalize articles ( a, an, the ), prepositions (such as in, for, of, at ), or conjunctions ( and, but, yet, or, nor, for, and so ).

EXAMPLES

Incorrect titles:

  1. the Action-Oriented Stategies Of Laura S. Summers
  2. Presence Of A Security Risk
  3. Rights And Duties Of Senior Sales Associates

Correct titles:

  1. The Action-Oriented Strategies of Laura S. Summers
  2. Presence of a Security Risk
  3. Rights and Duties of Senior Sales Associates

 

Capitalize proper nouns, such as names of specific people, places, and things. Capitalize positions or titles when they represent specific people.

  1. Capitalize the names of specific people, places, and things. Do not capitalize general positions or titles. For example, capitalize "Mother" when that is the name a person uses to address his or her mother. Do not capitalize it when it is used in any other way, as in "my mother." Do not capitalize "president" or "vice president" unless the words appear before their names: "President Richard Alcott."

  2. Capitalize positions or titles when they refer to specific people or agencies, such as "Social Security Administrator" or "Agency" (referring to a specific agency).

  3. Capitalize the words used to refer to people in very high offices, such as "President" in "President of the United States," or "The President spoke to the Prime Minister of England."

    Being president of a company is not considered a high office: "the president of General Motors."

Follow these guidelines for capitalizing specific words:

Act

Capitalize only when referring to a specific act: The National Labor Relations Act; the Act.

Capitol

Capitalize U.S. Capitol and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington, D.C. or to state capitols.

Circuit

Capitalize circuit only when used with a circuit number: the Fifth Circuit.

Code

Capitalize only when referring to a specific code: the 1939 and 1954 Codes.

Commonwealth

Capitalize only if it is part of the full title of a state, if the word it modifies is capitalized, or when referring to a state as a governmental actor or party to litigation.

EXAMPLES:

the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
the Commonwealth Commissioner
the Commonwealth relitigated the issue

Constitution

Capitalize references to the U.S. Constitution, with or without the "U.S."

BUT: Place "constitutional" in lowercase. Capitalize Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, First Amendment, and other legislation and treaties.

Congress

Capitalize when writing U.S. Congress and Congress (referring to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives).

BUT: Lowercase "congressional" unless it is part of a proper name (for example, the congressional hearings).

Court

Capitalize only when naming any court in full or when referring to the United States Supreme Court (applies to court documents and legal memoranda).

EXAMPLES:

the California Supreme Court
the Court (referring to the U.S. Supreme Court)
the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

BUT: the supreme court (referring to a state supreme court in general); the court of appeals.

Federal

Capitalize only when the word it modifies is capitalized.

EXAMPLES:

the Federal Reserve
federal spending

Government

Capitalize city, state, federal, courthouse, legislature, assembly, and other similar words only when used in a formal name.

EXAMPLES:

Henrico County, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Richmond City Council, Virginia General Assembly. Also "City Council" or "General Assembly" when writing about a specific governmental body.

Judge, justice

Capitalize only when giving the name of a specific judge or justice or when referring to a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

EXAMPLES:

Judge Cedarbaum
Justice Holmes
the Justice (referring to a Justice of the United States Supreme Court)

Party designations

Capitalize "Plaintiff," "Defendant," "Appellant," "Appellee," and so forth when referring to parties in the matter or when the word is the subject of the court document or memorandum.

EXAMPLES: Without admitting culpability, Plaintiff herein responds to Defendant's allegations of harassment . . .

Furthermore, Appellees claim that this line of reasoning applies to the instant case.

Political parties

Capitalize the name of a political party and the word "party." Use lower case for a general political philosophy.

EXAMPLES:

Democrat, Republican, German Social Democratic Party.

Fred's parents were staunch Republicans; at their urging, he joined the Party.

State

Capitalize only if it is part of the full title of a state, if the word it modifies is capitalized, or when it refers to a state as a governmental actor or party to litigation.

EXAMPLES:

the State of Kansas
the State Commissioner
the State relitigated the issue

Term

Capitalize only when referring to a term of the United States Supreme Court.

EXAMPLES:

1978 Term
this Term

BUT: Michaelmas term

Titles of persons

Capitalize titles, including academic rank and honorific titles, when used before a name.

BUT: Lowercase titles used after a name, alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas. Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions and not titles.

EXAMPLES:

President Lincoln; Professor Smith; Bill Gates, president of Microsoft Inc.; the Honorable I. M. Juste; professor of history; farmer Brown; security guard

BUT: presidential veto

Titles of
court documents:

In a court document or legal memorandum, capitalize the titles of court documents that have been filed in the matter that is the subject of the document.

EXAMPLES:

Assuming, arguendo, that the mandatory provision of Section 473 was applicable to orders imposing terminating sanctions, Plaintiff and her counsel failed to produce sufficient evidence to make the required showing that the problem was the result of counsel's mistake, surprise, inadvertence or neglect.

BUT: Do not capitalize a reference to a court document by the generic name of the document rather than by its actual title or a shortened form of its actual title.

EXAMPLES:

This motion is made on the grounds that Defendant failed to communicate with Plaintiff, thus making it unreasonably difficult to carry out Plaintiff's employment effectively.

Academic Department

Use lowercase except for proper nouns or adjectives.

EXAMPLES:

department of psychology, biology department, department of English, the Spanish department

Awards, events, holidays, and wars

Normally, capitalize awards, events, holidays, and wars.

EXAMPLES:

Merit Scholarship, Pulitzer Prize, Renaissance, Prohibition, Labor Day, Halloween, the Boer War, World War II

Sacred writings, God, and religions

Normally, capitalize sacred writings, the names for God, and names of religions.

EXAMPLES:

Bible, Qur'an, Book of Job (not underlined), God, Allah

The rules about pronouns referring to the Deity vary; some reference works state that "He" or "His" or "Thee" are capitalized whenever "God" is capitalized. Some writers always put the pronouns in lower case.

Proper names of gods are capitalized: Krishna, Hera, Odin.

Brand names

Buick, Nike, Microsoft. Lowercase generic terms: a VW van.

Buildings and rooms

Capitalize "building," "center," or rooms in a building if they are important parts of the name.

EXAMPLES:

the James Center, Chrysler Building, President's Dining Room, Oval Office

BUT: waiting room, doctor's office, bank building

Earth

Capitalize when used as a proper name.

BUT: Generally put "earth" in lowercase.

EXAMPLES:

The detectives turned over a small amount of earth and discovered the weapon.

The Earth is the third planet from the Sun.

Highways and roads

Capitalize the names of highways and roads.

EXAMPLES:

U.S. Highway 1, U.S. Route 66, Virginia Route 6, Interstate 95, Pennsylvania Turnpike, Rock Creek Parkway

Nationalities or races

Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, races, tribes, and so forth.

EXAMPLES:

French, Caucasian, Mataponi, Zulu

VARIANCE: Some will suggest that you lowercase black and white when using them to refer to races. However, when used for African American or Caucasian, we recommend capitalizing them as a version of the proper name.

 

Capitalize well-known descriptions or nicknames of certain people, places, or things.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. The first lady will be delivering a speech next week.
  2. The stolen card in question was a babe Ruth rookie card.

Correct:

  1. The First Lady will be delivering a speech next week.
  2. The stolen card in question was a Babe Ruth rookie card.

 

Capitalize words that are derived from proper nouns.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. The Wilsons owned Cactus, an arabian mare.
  2. They have taken judicial notice that the texans are protected by the texas code.
  3. The nurse said that she was bitten by her neighbor's shetland sheepdog.

Correct:

  1. The Wilsons owned Cactus, an Arabian mare.
  2. They have taken judicial notice that the Texans are protected by the Texas Code.
  3. The nurse said that she was bitten by her neighbor's Shetland sheepdog.

 

Capitalize names of departments when referring to specific departments in the writer's own organization.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. Send a copy of this bill to Lee in our advertising department.
  2. The executive board of our company wanted to meet with their Executive Board.
  3. Did your trainee ever work in their Marketing Department?

Correct:

  1. Send a copy of this bill to Lee in our Advertising Department.
  2. The Executive Board of our company wanted to meet with their executive board.
  3. Did your trainee ever work in their marketing department?

 

Capitalize both parts of hyphenated proper names and adjectives, with the exception of prefixes.

Capitalize hyphenated proper names such as "North-South game." However, use no hyphen in racial or ethnic group names such as "African American" even when they are used as an adjective, as in "African American author." Do not capitalize prefixes preceding names, such as "ex-Governor."

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. Please be advised that Ex-Governor Jones will be attending the luncheon this afternoon.
  2. The French-american Treaty did not include that boundary.
  3. The city has a large Spanish-Speaking population.

Correct:

  1. Please be advised that ex-Governor Jones will be attending the luncheon this afternoon.
  2. The French-American Treaty did not include that boundary.
  3. The city has a large Spanish-speaking population.

 

Capitalize points of the compass only when referring to definite regions or used with proper names. Capitalize words like Southern and Western only when they refer to customs or residents of the region.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. Mr. Kaylor was living in a house West of town.
  2. The new comptroller's office will be located on the east coast.
  3. The consultant's business is located on south Elm Street.

Correct:

  1. Mr. Kaylor was living in a house west of town.
  2. The new comptroller's office will be located on the East Coast.
  3. The consultant's business is located on South Elm Street.

 

Do not capitalize seasons of the year unless they are personified or part of a proper noun.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. The conference will take place next Fall.
  2. An exotic beach resort is one called summer's twilight.
  3. Old man winter arrived icing roads and causing many accidents.

Correct:

  1. The conference will take place next fall.
  2. An exotic beach resort is one called Summer's Twilight.
  3. Old Man Winter arrived icing roads and causing many accidents.

 

Capitalize nouns preceding numbers.

Capitalize nouns preceding numbers, such as chapter or section, except for nouns referring to sentences, pages, paragraphs, lines, and sizes.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. While walking along highway 12, Deborah was struck by a company vehicle.
  2. You are booked on United Airlines flight 326.
  3. The corresponding information can be found on Page 15.

Correct:

  1. While walking along Highway 12, Deborah was struck by a company vehicle.
  2. You are booked on United Airlines Flight 326.
  3. The corresponding information can be found on page 15.

 

Capitalize a person's title if it precedes his or her name, appears in an address, or is on a signature line. Do not capitalize a title following a name in a sentence.

EXAMPLES

Incorrect:

  1. Jan Turner, Editor, received the award.
  2. The meeting was headed by chairman Dave Nelson.
  3. Sincerely,

Mr. Lee Chambers, president

Correct:

  1. Jan Turner, editor, received the award.
  2. The meeting was headed by Chairman Dave Nelson.
  3. Sincerely,

Mr. Lee Chambers, President