Capitalization

Do you write PHD or PhD? Is it French fry or french fry? How do we refer to Canada’s Indigenous people?

Generally prefer under-capitalization to over-capitalization. Studding a document with gratuitous capitals makes it hard to read. Capitalize only principal words: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs and prepositions of four letters or more.

For most U of G-specific capitalization rules, see “Titles and Names.”

Headlines

For external communications written for an audience outside the University such as the media, use title case (capitalize only initial letters, everything else lower case) in headlines: Prof Discovers Ways to Help Heart Failure Patients.

For internal communications written for the University community, use either sentence case (capitalize only the initial letter of the first word) or title case, but be consistent. Sentence case: Prof discovers ways to help heart failure patients.

In headlines, capitalize principal words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and the first and last words of the title). Capitalize even small verbs and nouns: Is, Are, Be, It, etc. Also capitalize prepositions and conjunctions of four letters or more in headlines: With, Into, From.

Food from Thought: Capitalize Food From Thought in a headline about the U of G project, but use lower case “from” in body copy and captions in reference to this specific project. Body copy: The Food from Thought team has received new funding. Headline: Food From Thought Team Receives Funding.

In a headline, don’t capitalize articles (a, an, the) or prepositions and conjunctions of fewer than four letters: Food for Thought. Capitalize these short words (for, to, at, in) only when they appear as the first or last word in a title or when they appear immediately after a colon or semicolon.

If a title is in French, only the first word is capitalized.

If a title contains hyphenated words, capitalize both words: New Book Tells Story of History-Filled Guelph Guitar (not: History-filled).

Phone extensions

Abbreviate and capitalize extension in front of a phone number, and include commas before and after the extension: Call 519-824-4120, Ext. 56580, for more information. Note hyphen after 519.

Addresses

Capitalize street, road, etc., in addresses, but use lower case with plurals: She lives on College Avenue and works at Edinburgh and Stone roads.

Titles of creative works

For titles of books, plays, movies, songs, academic papers, journal articles, theses, lectures and book chapters, follow capitalization rules as above for headlines when writing principal words and prepositions and conjunctions.

Italics

Italicize titles of books, plays, movies, magazines, journals, newspapers, CDs, songs, symphonies, artworks, video games, and TV and radio shows. Also names of ships, spacecraft, aircraft and trains. Also scientific names of organisms (Homo sapiens, E. coli). Titles of academic papers and journal articles, book chapters, theses, courses, lectures and seminars, etc., are not italicized but are enclosed in quotation marks. Long sacred works such as the Bible and the Qur’an are not italicized.

No italics for titles of academic papers or conferences/lectures/courses.

Government

Capitalize formal government titles when they precede a name: Premier Kathleen Wynne, President Donald Trump, Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault, Mayor Cam Guthrie.

Use lower case when the title follows the name, stands alone or is plural: Glenn Thibeault, minister of energy, the prime minister, premiers Kathleen Wynne and Philippe Couillard.

Titles preceded by former, late, etc., are also lower case: former prime minister Joe Clark, late president Richard Nixon.

When a title precedes a name but is set off by a comma, it is lower case: The minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, Jeff Leal, visited campus last week.

All references to the current Governor General and the Queen are capitalized: Governor General Julie Payette.

Don’t capitalize government in Ontario government and Canadian government, but as official entities, they are the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada.

Geographical regions

Capitalize regions that are known as specific geographical areas: Western Canada, the North or Far North, the West (region of Canada or the world), East Coast, Niagara Escarpment, the Prairies, the Western Hemisphere.

Use lower case for derivatives of these specific areas or if the words indicate mere direction or position: southern or northern Ontario, the western provinces, the western world, eastern Europe, the east coast (the shoreline).

Arctic is capitalized both as a noun and as an adjective.

Write developed/developing nation, not First/Third World.

Seasons

Spring, summer, fall and winter are not capitalized.

Military

Canada’s military forces are capitalized: Canadian Forces, the Forces, Canadian Navy.

For other forces, use lower case when army, navy and air force are preceded by the name of the country: British air force, U.S. navy, German army.

Places

Capitalize city only when referring to the incorporated entity: The City of Guelph has introduced a new bylaw. He lives in the city of Guelph.

Capitalize Earth when referring to the planet: The space shuttle returned to Earth. Otherwise, it’s lower case: earth science. Mars is the red planet, not the Red Planet.

Province

No initial cap unless part of the formal governmental title: the Province of Ontario. Otherwise, province and provincial take lower case.

Numbers

Capitalize a noun followed by a number denoting place in a numbered series: Room 447, Day 1, Part 2, Grade 3, Phase 1, Act 2, Chapter 10. Use lower case in plural: phases 2 and 3, grades 9 to 12.

Page, paragraph, sentence, size, verse and line are all lower case when followed by a number.

North, south, east, west

Lower case unless part of a street address.

Religion

All the names of religions are proper names and take an initial cap: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Baha’i, etc.

Indigenous people

Capitalize Indigenous, as Indigenous people. Also capitalize First Nation(s), Inuit and Métis. Also Innu. Avoid “native” when possible; native does not denote a specific ethnicity such as First Nations.

Web terms

Proper forms for web terms are as follows: email, website, Internet (note cap), Web, World Wide Web, online, home page.

Proper/proprietary names

Proper names that have acquired independent meaning are lower case: french fry, brussels sprouts, scotch whisky.

Proprietary trade names are capitalized: Aspirin, Band-Aid, Frisbee, Kleenex, Plexiglas, Styrofoam, Velcro, Xerox.

Lower case vitamin and capitalize the type: vitamin A. Also: it’s Type 2 diabetes.