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Capitalization Western Reserve and The Associated Press Stylebook favor a "down" style—that is, one that encourages a minimum of capitalization.When in doubt, do not capitalize.

For guidelines on capitalization in a specific instance, e.g., academic or subject titles, see the entry for that listing.


The first and last words of a headline. Use caps for all other words except prepositions, articles and coordinating conjunctions.

All components of a hyphenated compound word should be capitalized in a headline.

The word after a colon if the following clause constitutes a full sentence.Example: One thing became clear: No work would be done today.Example: Specializations prepare for one of three roles: direct service, community planning or management.

The first letter bulleted copy introduced by a colon if the items constitute complete sentences.

All proper nouns, months, and days of the week.

A noun used in forming an essential part of a proper name; but when used informally. Examples: the Department of English; the department; the College of Arts and Sciences; the college; the School of Law; the medical school.

Formal titles when they precede a name, but when the title follows the name or stands alone. Example: Director of Housing, Residence Life & Greek Life Alma Sealine delivered the address. Example: Gerhard Welsch, professor of materials science and engineering, recently received a $2.25 million stimulus grant. Example: Cyrus C. Taylor, PhD, is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Example: For details, please contact Melanie Scanlon, assistant director for leadership. Example: President Barbara Snyder met with at the reception.

The first word of a direct or indirect quotation when it is a complete sentence. Example: He said, "What"s the big idea?"

The formal titles of the university, colleges and schools. Also, formal names of educational institutions and their major divisions.

Academic degrees when cited completely and formally; but do not capitalize when used informally.

Names of firms and corporations, churches, clubs, societies, associations, leagues, unions, institutions and groups formally organized as committees. Do not capitalize in informal references. Also, do not capitalize in collective references. Example: the boards of directors of several companies.

In titles and headings, all principal words except internal articles and prepositions. When referring to titles of periodicals, do not capitalize the articles that precede them. Note that these articles are not italicized. The same rule applies to the names of schools and colleges at or anywhere else and to the names of companies, committees and institutions; the article is not capitalized.

Do Not Capitalize

Such words as federal, state and municipal except when they are part of formal titles. Such words as city, state, county and village are capitalized only when they refer to the actual government.Example: The City of Cleveland enacted an ordinance against littering.Example: The state of Ohio has many tourist attractions.

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Titles standing alone or following names, with the exception of specific named professorships Example: He is the vice president of student affairs. Example: She is the Henry Willson Payne Professor of Anatomy.

The names of academic subjects (except proper nouns such as English) Example: She failed her math final.

The words university, school, college, department, committee, etc., when standing alone Example: The university does not condone those behaviors.

The names of particular courses of study. Example: He is a professor of economics. Example: majoring in polymer science must meet certain requirements.

Times of day Examples: 3 p.m., noon, midnight

Names of academic terms or seasons. Only capitalize at the beginning of a sentence, or when it is part of an official program name or written guide. Examples: fall semester, summer session, winter term.

The word black when used to indicate race. Note: African-American is the preferred term.