Monday, August 1, 2016

When should I capitalize a word?



  1. The first word of a sentence.
  2. The first word of a quotation. [He said, "Let's do it."]
    • Exception: If a quotation is less than a sentence, don't capitalize the first word. [He said it was "wonderful."]
  3. The word "I."
  4. Proper names and abbreviations of proper names. [S.D. Tripp]
  5. Proper names used as adjectives. [the Fourier transform]
  6. Geographical names and names of political units. [Asia, Fukushima]
  7. Compass directions only when they are parts of names. [North Korea]
  8. Names of streets, buildings, parks, and companies. [Broadway, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Sony]
  9. Names of organizations and religions. [the Republican Party, Buddhism]
  10. Names of races and nationalities. [Caucasian, Japanese]
  11. The names of wars, battles, historical events, and historical periods. [World War II, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Meiji Restoration, the Tokugawa Period]
  12. The names of prizes, treaties, and famous documents. [the Nobel Prize, the Declaration of Independence]
  13. Military and civilian titles. [General MacArthur, Prime Minister Hashimoto]
  14. Academic degrees. [John Smith, Ph.D.] 

Q: Should I capitalize the title of my paper?
A: You should capitalize only the first word of the title.

Write your title like this:  Emergency information terminal using energy harvesting technology

Not this: Emergency Information Terminal Using Energy Harvesting Technology

Q: Should I capitalize masters degree?
A: The answer depends on context.

If you are writing a sentence in which you mention a bachelor's degree or a master's degree or even a doctor's degree, do not capitalize------but always remember to use the apostrophe! (See

If you are writing a person's name and including degree(s) earned, capitalize the abbreviations as you've always seen them: Lynne Hancock, L.P.N., R.N., B.S.N., M.S.N or Lynda Eggleston, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Ordinarily it is not necessary to list all earned if they were successive. In other words anyone holding a Ph.D. would hold a bachelor's and a master's, so Ph.D. is sufficient. If however you have someone with several fields of study, you'd want to indicate highest degree earned within each field.)

If you are writing your own resume, use capitalized abbreviations: 
M.S. Zoology, 2006

These are the most often used contexts, but if your context is different from those mentioned above, just submit the question again with the context defined.

Perhaps you’ve wondered if and when academic degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) should be capitalized.
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) recommends writing academic degrees in lower case except when directly preceding or following a name.
Orlando is pursuing a bachelor of science in civil engineering.
He introduced Jennifer Miller, Master of Fine Arts.
He introduced Master of Fine Arts Jennifer Miller.
The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) recommends no capitals when referring to degrees in general terms (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorateassociate degree) but always capitalizing specific degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science), whether or not they directly precede or follow a name.
Orlando is thinking about getting a Bachelor of Science degree.
Orlando is thinking about getting a master’s degree.
He introduced Orlando Cruz, Bachelor of Science.

My recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent.

Where there is agreement, however, is that abbreviations of academic degrees are to be capitalized. CMOS recommends omitting periods unless required for tradition or consistency (BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD), but AP prefers retaining the periods (B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D.).

- Updated by Vince on Sat 20 Aug 2016

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