Capitalization

Capitalize sparingly. In texts, limit capitalization to proper nouns and formal names of departments or people. Resist the urge to use capitalization to signify importance.

Academic and Administrative Titles

Capitalize the principal words in a title that appears before the name of a particular person. Don’t capitalize a title elsewhere.

Vice President Robin Holmes
    but
Robin Holmes, vice president for [not of] student life

Assistant Professor Keith Kirby
    but
the assistant professor or Keith Kirby, assistant professor

An exception is in the heading or closing of a letter:

Keith Kirby
Assistant Professor

When a title is used in apposition before a name, not as a part of the name but as a descriptive tag, it is lowercased.

Professor Andrea Marcovicci
    but
history professor Andrea Marcovicci

President John Wesley Johnson
    but
UO president John Wesley Johnson

Academic Degrees and Honors

Don’t capitalize general references to academic degrees and honors. Do capitalize the abbreviated degree after someone’s name. See also Academics.

I have bachelor of arts and master of fine arts degrees.
    but
Korinna Goudy, MFA

Addresses (mailing)

For reduced-cost mailings, the United States Postal Service requires that addresses appear on envelopes in all-capital letters and, except for the hyphenated ZIP code, without punctuation.

OFFICE OF ADMISSIONS
1266 UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
EUGENE OR 97403-1266

Groups of People

The names of racial, linguistic, tribal, religious, and other groups of people are capitalized. Don’t hyphenate them. The following list is not exhaustive.

  • African American or Black
  • Alaska Native
  • American Indian or Native American
  • Asian (from the Far East, Southeast Asia, India, China, or Korea)
  • Asian American
  • Caucasian or White
  • Chicana, Chicano
  • Hispanic
  • Latina, Latino
  • Mexican American
  • North African
  • Pacific Islander
  • people of color
  • people with disabilities [not the handicapped, the disabled, or the differently abled]

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Latina refers to a woman of Latin American descent. Latino refers to a Latin American person of either sex. Although Spanish nouns have one of two grammatical genders—masculine or feminine—English nouns do not. Spanish rules cannot reasonably determine English usage. The construction Latino/a, aside from being an unpronounceable abbreviation, is both nonstandard and redundant. The same rule applies to the use of Chicano/a. Avoid their use.

Greeks (capitalized) are both people from Greece and members of fraternities and sororities. The latter belong to Greek-letter organizations.

Places

Capitalize north, south, east, and west when they are part of specific geographic regions or official names of organizations. Don’t capitalize general compass directions.

Specific General
the Far West the west entrance
the Western Hemisphere the western United States
the West Eugene Neighborhood Association west Eugene

Capitalize Earth when referring to the planet. Capitalize World War II and Second World War.

Buildings

Only a few buildings include the word building in their official names (e.g., Volcanology Building, MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building). Don’t confuse names of administrative units with names of buildings.

Administrative Units Building Names
UO Libraries Knight Library
School of Law William W. Knight Law Center

Rooms and Spaces

The word room is often unnecessary in addresses. If you use it after a room name, it should be capitalized.

Walnut Room, Erb Memorial Union

101 Chapman Hall
    not
Room 101, Chapman Hall

Formal names of spaces are authorized by the UO president.

Dave Rowe Room
Leona E. Tyler Conference Room
Paul Olum Atrium

Things

Capitalize only the formal names of departments, institutes, schools, centers, and government agencies. Don’t capitalize words that aren’t part of the formal names.

Formal Informal
University of Oregon the university
Center for Asian and Pacific Studies the center
School of Music and Dance the music school
Department of Political Science the political science department
Oregon Legislative Assembly the state legislature

the Summer Session office
    but
summer session (the June-through-August academic session)

Some administrative units include the full name of a person. In such cases there are two acceptable formal names.

Formal Informal
Charles H. Lundquist College of Business the Lundquist College or the college
Robert Donald Clark Honors College or
Robert D. Clark Honors College
the honors college or the college
Clark Honors College the honors college

For more details on capitalization of formal, informal, and abbreviated names of institutions and organizations, see the Chicago Manual of Style.

Only a few offices include University of Oregon in their official names. They also have two references, formal and informal.

Formal Informal
University of Oregon Alumni Association the association
the Alumni Association the association
University of Oregon Foundation the foundation
Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon the board

Don’t capitalize names of academic majors and minors except for proper nouns.

He has a major in Japanese and a minor in dance.

Programs

Capitalize the full name of official programs or projects. Always lowercase program when the word stands alone or when using only part of the formal name.

In some UO programs, confusion stems from use of the same term for two different things, such as First-Year Interest Groups, the program, and a first-year interest group, a group of three courses within that program. The former term, the title of an official program, is uppercased and takes a singular verb. The latter term is analogous to course or seminar, and is lowercased. To clarify: bologna, a sausage, is lowercased even though the name is derived from Bologna, the city.

The terms Freshman Seminars and First-Year Interest Groups would be capitalized if program, the term that naturally follows each, is implied, or when the term takes a singular verb.

The Freshman Seminars program is designed to introduce first-year students to thought-provoking, challenging, and interesting subjects.

A general reference to individual seminars, first-year interest groups, or colloquiums would be lowercased.

A first-year interest group consists of 25 first-year students.

Titles

Follow headline style when capitalizing the first letters of words in titles. The first and last words of the title are always capitalized, regardless of their function. Capitalize the first letter of all other words except for those functioning as articles (e.g., the, a, an), prepositions (e.g., about, against, at, by, for, from, in, of, on, over, through, to, under, with—except when they are stressed or used as adverbs or adjectives), and some conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor). When newspapers and periodicals are mentioned in text, an initial the, even if part of the official title, is lowercased (unless it begins a sentence) and not italicized.

the Register-Guard (note the name is hyphenated)
the New York Times
A River Runs Through It (the preposition through is stressed)
Rebel without a Cause
Four Theories concerning the Gospel according to Matthew

Exhibitions and Lectures

Museum exhibition titles are capitalized in headline style. In running text, they are italicized. In lists where the exhibition titles stand alone, they are set in roman type.

The titles of lecture series and individual lecture titles are capitalized in headline style. The titles of lecture series are set in roman type; individual lecture titles are enclosed in quotation marks.

Institutional and Company Names

The full names of institutions, groups, and companies and the names of their departments, and often the shortened forms of such names (e.g., the Art Institute), are capitalized. A the preceding a name, even when part of the official title, is lowercased in running text. Such generic terms as company and university are lowercased when used alone.

  • the University of Chicago; the university; the University of Chicago and Ohio State University; the University of Wisconsin at Madison; the University of California at Berkeley
  • the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon; the board of trustees; the board
  • the Art Institute of Chicago; the Art Institute
  • the Beach Boys; the Beatles; the Grateful Dead, the Dead; the Who (but Tha Eastsidaz)
  • the General Foods Corporation; General Foods; the corporation
  • the Chicago Bulls; the Bulls
  • the Library of Congress; the library
  • the Manuscripts Division of the library
  • the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art; the museum

Parts of names given in full capitals on the letterhead or in the promotional materials of particular organizations may be given in upper- and lowercase when referred to in other contexts (e.g., the Rand Corporation rather than the RAND Corporation). Company names that are spelled in lowercase letters in promotional materials may be capitalized (e.g., DrKoop.net rather than drkoop.net). Names such as eBay and iPod, should they appear at the beginning of a sentence or heading (a construction that should be avoided if possible), need not take an initial capital in addition to the capitalized second letter. Company or product names with additional, internal capitals (sometimes called “midcaps”) should likewise be left unchanged (GlaxoSmithKline, HarperCollins, LexisNexis).