To capitalize or not to capitalize

Writing style standards are shifting toward less capitalization and punctuation. The Canadian Press follows this basic rule:

Capitalize all proper names, trade names, government departments and agencies of government, names of associations, companies, clubs, religions, languages, nations, races, places and addresses. Otherwise, lowercase is favoured where a reasonable option exists.

General rules for capitalization

  • When referring to the academic term, lowercase the season.
     - fall term
     - winter term

  • When referring to a student's academic year, lowercase and hyphenate.
     - first-year student
     - fourth-year student

  • Do not capitalize the word university when it is not part of the school's proper full name, even if it refers to Dalhousie. See Dalhousie, Dal, The university for more information.
     - The university, founded in 1818, is often known casually as Dal.
  • Capitalize the proper names of departments, faculties and programs. Colloquial names should be lower-cased.
      - Department of Biology
      - Faculty of Science
     - biology department
     - science program

  • Capitalize Dalhousie degrees when referring to them by their proper name, and lower-case them when using colloquial forms. Names of majors, minors, concentrations and programs are lowercase within text. See degrees, programs and courses for more information.

  • Do not capitalize academic subjects except when referring to a subject that is also a proper noun.
     - biology
     - English
     - French
     - history
     - law
     - Spanish

  • Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions, but lowercase general references. See buildings and locations for more information.
  • Lowercase "fax" and "email" in text. Email is used without a hyphen and is lowercased except to begin a sentence. See telephone, fax and email for more information.
  • Lowercase compass directions: north, south, east, and west (including northern, southern, eastern, and western) when not part of a proper name. Capitalize in reference to a proper name or region.
     - Northwest, but northwestern
     - The East Coast, but eastern Nova Scotia
  • "Internet" should always be capitalized.
  • "web" should be lowercased, except to begin a sentence.
  • "website" is one word, all lowercased except to begin a sentence.
  • Capitalize holidays, religious feasts and all special times.
      - New Year's Eve
      - April Fool's Day
     - Mother's Day
     - Halloween

     - Canada Day

  • Do not capitalize the first letter of a common noun after a colon in running text, even if the colon is followed by a complete sentence.

  • Avoid using ALL CAPS. Use bolded words instead for emphasis.