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Wikipedia avoids unnecessary "capitalization. In "English, capitalization is primarily needed for "proper names, "acronyms, and for the first letter of a sentence.[a] Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is conventionally capitalized; only words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources are capitalized in Wikipedia.

There are exceptions for specific cases discussed below.


Do not use for emphasis[edit]

Initial capitals or all capitals should not be used for emphasis. If wording alone cannot provide the required emphasis, italics, or, preferably, the <em>...</em> HTML element (or its {{"em}} template wrapper), should be used:

Use: It is not only a little learning that is dangerous.
Avoid: It is not only a LITTLE learning that is dangerous.
Avoid: It is not only a Little learning that is dangerous.
Avoid: It is not only a little learning that is dangerous.

Headings, headers, and captions[edit]


Use "sentence case, not "title case, capitalization in all section headings. Capitalize the first letter of the first word, but leave the rest lower case except for proper names and other items that would ordinarily be capitalized in running text.

Use: Economic and demographic shifts after World War II
Avoid: Economic and Demographic Shifts After World War II

The same applies to the "titles of articles, "table headers and captions, the headers of "infoboxes and "navigation templates, and "image captions and alt text. (For list items, see next section.)

Linking is easier if titles are in sentence case. It is easier for articles to be merged or split if headings resemble titles.

Initial letters in sentences and list items[edit]


The initial letter in a sentence[a] is capitalized. This does not apply if it begins with a letter which is always left uncapitalized (as in ""eBay"; see § Items that require initial lower case, below), although it is usually preferable to recast the sentence.

When an independent clause ends with a dash or semicolon, the first letter of the following word should not be capitalized, even if it begins a new independent clause that could be a grammatically separate sentence: Cheese is a dairy product; bacon is not. The same usually applies after "colons, although sometimes the word following a colon is capitalized, if that word effectively begins a new grammatical sentence, and especially if the colon serves to introduce more than one sentence. See "WP:Manual of Style § Colons.

In a list, if each item of the list is a complete sentence, then it should be capitalized like any other sentence. If the list items are sentence fragments, then capitalization should be consistent – sentence case should be applied to either all or none of the items. See "WP:Manual of Style § Bulleted and numbered lists.

After hyphenation[edit]


In article text, do not use a capital letter after a hyphen except for a proper name: Graeco-Roman and Mediterranean-style, but not Gandhi-Like. Letters used as designations are treated as names for this purpose: a size-A drill bit. (For cases involving titles, see § Titles of people, and § Composition titles.)

Proper names[edit]


"Proper names of specific places, persons, terms, etc. are capitalized in accordance with standard usage: "Winston Churchill, "John de Balliol, "Wales, "Tel Aviv, "Three Great Gardens of Japan, etc.

Most adjectives derived from proper names should be capitalized, e.g. the English people, the Kantian imperative, with occasional established exceptions such as teddy bear.

Some terms contain personal names used in a way that does not refer to any specific individual; these are not proper names, and are lower-cased: "jack in the pulpit, "round-robin.

Capitalization of "The"[edit]


Do not ordinarily capitalize the definite article after the first word of a sentence;[a] however, some idiomatic expressions, including the titles of artistic and academic works, should be quoted exactly according to common usage.

Correct (generic): an article about the "United Kingdom
Incorrect an article about "The United Kingdom (a redirect)
Correct (title): J. R. R. Tolkien wrote "The Lord of the Rings.
Incorrect J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the "Lord of the Rings. (a redirect)
Correct (title): Homer wrote the "Odyssey.
Incorrect Homer wrote "The Odyssey. (a redirect)
Correct (exception): public transport in "The Hague[b]
Incorrect public transport in the "Hague (a redirect)
Correct (exception): competed in "The Open Championship (a specific golf tournament conventionally styled this way)
Incorrect competed in "The British Open (a redirect from a description not a name)

Titles of people[edit]


Offices, titles, and positions such as president, king, emperor, grand duke, lord mayor, pope, bishop, abbot, chief financial officer, and executive director are common nouns and therefore should be in lower case when used generically: Mitterrand was the French president or There were many presidents at the meeting. They are capitalized only in the following cases:

Unmodified, denoting a title Modified or reworded, denoting an office
Richard Nixon was President of the United States. Richard Nixon was the president of the United States.
Richard Nixon was a president of the United States.
Nixon was the 37th president of the United States.
Nixon was one of the more controversial American presidents.
Controversial US president, Richard Nixon, resigned.
Camp David is a mountain retreat for presidents of the United States.
Louis XVI became King of France and Navarre in 1774,
later styled King of the French (1791–1792).
Louis XVI was a king of France.
Louis XVI was the king of France when the French Revolution began.
French king, Louis XVI, was beheaded.

When an unhyphenated compound title such as vice president or chief executive officer is capitalized (unless this is simply because it begins a sentence),[a] each word begins with a capital letter: On October 10, 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned and Gerald Ford was appointed to replace him. This does not apply to unimportant words such as the "of" in White House Chief of Staff John Doe. When hyphenated, as Vice-president is in some contexts other than U.S. politics, the second (and any subsequent) elements are not capitalized.

Honorifics and "styles of nobility should normally be capitalized, e.g., Her Majesty, His Holiness, but see also "WP:Manual of Style/Biographies § Honorifics.

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines, and their adherents[edit]


Names of organized religions (as well as officially recognized sects), whether as a noun or an adjective, and their adherents start with a capital letter. Unofficial movements, ideologies or philosophies within religions are generally not capitalized unless derived from a proper name. For example, Islam, Christianity, Catholic, Pentecostal and Calvinist are capitalized, while evangelicalism and fundamentalism are not.

"Proper names and titles referencing deities are capitalized: God, Allah, Freyja, the Lord, the Supreme Being, the Messiah. The same is true when referring to important religious figures, such as Muhammad, by terms such as the Prophet. "Common nouns not used as titles should not be capitalized: the Norse gods, personal god. In a biblical context, God is capitalized only when it refers to the Judeo-Christian deity, and prophet is generally not capitalized.

Transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense also begin with a capital letter: Good and Truth. Nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise, are not capitalized.

"Pronouns for deities and figures of veneration are not capitalized, even if capitalized in a religion's scriptures: Jesus addressed his followers, not Jesus addressed His followers (except in a direct quotation).

The names of major revered works of scripture like the Bible, the Qur'an, the Talmud, and the Vedas should be capitalized (but are often not italicized). The adjective biblical should not be capitalized. Koranic is normally capitalized, but usage varies for talmudic, vedic, etc. Be consistent within an article.

Do not capitalize terms denoting types of religious or mythical beings, such as angel, fairy or deva. The personal names of individual beings are capitalized as normal (the angel Gabriel). An exception to the general rule is made when such terms are used to denote races in science fiction or fantasy, in which case they are capitalized if the work capitalizes them (the Elves of Tolkien's Middle-earth).

Spiritual or religious events are capitalized only when referring to specific incidents or periods (the Great Flood and the Exodus; but annual flooding and an exodus of refugees).


Doctrines, philosophies, theologies, theories, movements, methods, processes, systems of thought and practice, and fields of study are not capitalized, unless the name derives from a proper name: lowercase republican refers to a system of political thought; uppercase Republican refers to a specific "Republican Party (each being a proper name). Even so, watch for idiom: "Platonic idealism but a "platonic relationship. Doctrinal topics, canonical religious ideas, and procedural systems that may be traditionally capitalized within a faith or field are given in lower case in Wikipedia, such as virgin birth (as a common noun), original sin, transubstantiation, and method acting.

Calendar items[edit]

Capitalize the names of months, days, and holidays: June, Monday, Fourth of July, Michaelmas, the Ides of March. Seasons are uncapitalized (a hot summer) except when personified: soon Spring will show her colors; Old Man Winter.

Science and mathematics[edit]

In the names of scientific and mathematical concepts, only proper names (or words derived from them) should be capitalized: "Hermitian matrix or "Lorentz transformation. However, some established exceptions exist, such as "abelian group and "Big Bang theory.

Animals, plants, and other organisms[edit]


Scientific names[edit]

"Scientific names including "genus and "species (sometimes also "subspecies, or "other infraspecific names) have an initial capital letter for the genus, but not for the [sub]species ("and are always italicized): the tulip tree is Liriodendron tulipifera; all modern humans are Homo sapiens. More specifically:

"Cultivar and "cultivar group names of plants are not italicized, and are capitalized. Cultivar names appear within single quotes: Malus domestica 'Red Delicious'. Cultivar groups do not use quotation marks, but do include and capitalize the word "Group" in the name: Cynara cardunculus Scolymus Group. While the "ICNCP has recently preferred the term "Group" (used by itself and capitalized) to refer to the cultivar group concept, please use the lower-case phrase "cultivar group" (aside from "Group" within an actual scientific name), as it is both less ambiguous and less typographically confusing to the average reader.

Orders, families and other "taxonomic ranks above genus level have an initial capital letter (and are not italicized): bats belong to the order Chiroptera; rats and mice are members of the family Muridae and the order Rodentia. However, there is generally an English form derived from the Latin name, and this should not be capitalised (nor italicized): members of the order Chiroptera are chiropterans; members of the family Muridae are murids and members of the order Rodentia are rodents.

Common names[edit]


Lower-case initial letters are used for each part of the common (vernacular) names of species, genera, families and all other taxonomic levels (bacteria, zebra, bottlenose dolphin, mountain maple, bald eagle), except where they contain a "proper name (Przewalski's horse, Amur tiger, Roosevelt elk), or when such a name starts a sentence[a] (Black bears eat white suckers and blueberries).

As of 2017, wikiprojects for some groups of organisms are in the process of converting to sentence case where title case was previously used. Some articles may not have been changed yet (this may still be true of some "insect articles and some "plant ones, as well as a few on "amphibians and reptiles).

Names of groups or types[edit]

The common name of a group of species or type of organism is always written in lower case (except where a proper name occurs):

This also applies to an individual creature of indeterminate species.

Celestial bodies[edit]


The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; the Moon orbits Earth). They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter). However, they are capitalized in personifications, as in Sol Invictus ('Unconquered Sun') was the ancient Roman sun god.

Names of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, stars, constellations, and galaxies are proper names and begin with a capital letter (The planet Mars can be seen tonight in the constellation Gemini, near the star Pollux). The first letter of every word in such a name is capitalized (Alpha Centauri and not Alpha centauri; Milky Way, not Milky way). In the case of compounds with generic terms such as comet and galaxy (but not star or planet), the generic is retained at the end of the name and capitalized as part of it (Halley's Comet is the most famous of the periodic comets; astronomers describe the Andromeda Galaxy as a spiral galaxy). However, Milky Way galaxy is a descriptive phrase, without capitalized "galaxy", and should usually be reduced to the actual name, Milky Way, because that name is not ambiguous. If it is unclear what the Milky Way is in the context, consider using something clearer, like our galaxy, the Milky Way. Do not capitalize descriptive terms that precede the name of an astronomical object: comet Bradfield 1, galaxy HCM-6A.

Geological periods[edit]

The names of formally defined "geological periods and the rock layers corresponding to them are capitalized. Thus the Devonian Period or the Late Cretaceous Epoch are internationally defined periods of time, whereas the late Cretaceous is an unspecified time towards the end of the Cretaceous. Do not capitalize outside a complete formal name: thus the Devonian is a period rather than the Devonian is a Period.

Compass points[edit]


Points of the compass (north, north-east, southeast, etc.), and their derived forms (northern, southeasterly, etc.) are not generally capitalized: nine miles south of Oxford, a northern road. They are capitalized only when they form part of a proper name, such as Great North Road.

Doubts frequently arise when referring to regions, such as eastern Spain and Southern California. If one is consistently capitalized in reliable sources (as with "North Korea, "Southern California or "Western Europe), then the direction word in it is capitalized. Otherwise it is not, as with eastern Spain or southwest Poland. If you are not sure whether a region has attained proper-name status, assume it has not.

Follow the same convention for related forms: a person from the "Southern United States is a Southerner.

Compound compass points are usually fully compounded in "American English, for example northwest, while in "British English they are sometimes written as separate words or hyphenated, as in north-west. This also affects names of regions such as "Southeastern United States and "South East England. Finer compass points take a hyphen after the first word, regardless, and never use a space: south-southeast or south-south-east, but not south-south east, south southeast, etc.


Incorrect (generic): The University offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (generic): The university offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (title): The University of Delhi offers programs in arts and sciences.
Incorrect (generic): The City has a population of 55,000.
Correct (generic): The city has a population of 55,000.
Correct (title): The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Correct ("city" omitted): Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Exception ("City" used as proper name for the City of London): In the medieval period, the City was the full extent of London.

Military terms[edit]


The general rule is that wherever a military term is an accepted proper name, as indicated by consistent capitalization in sources, it should be capitalized. Where there is uncertainty as to whether a term is generally accepted, consensus should be reached on the talk page.

Musical and literary genres[edit]


Names of musical or literary genres do not require capitalization at all, unless the genre name contains a proper name such as the name of a place. For example:

Incorrect: The Rouge Admins are a Goa Trance band.
Incorrect: The Rouge Admins are a goa trance band.
Correct: The Rouge Admins are a Goa trance band.
Incorrect: The French Boys are a Psychedelic Rock band.
Correct: The French Boys are a psychedelic rock band.
Incorrect: Asimov is widely considered a master of Science Fiction.
Correct: Asimov is widely considered a master of science fiction.
Incorrect: A genre of Music and Dance native to the Southern Spanish regions of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia is Flamenco.
Correct: A genre of music and dance native to the southern Spanish regions of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia is flamenco.

Radio formats such as adult contemporary or classic rock are also not capitalized.



On Wikipedia, most "acronyms are written in all capital letters (such as "NATO, "BBC, and "JPEG). Wikipedia does not follow the practice of distinguishing between acronyms and "initialisms. Do not write acronyms that are pronounced as if they were a word with an initial capital letter only, e.g. do not write UNESCO as Unesco, or NASA as Nasa.

Use only source-attested acronyms; "do not make up new ones (for example, the "World Pool-Billiard Association is the WPA, and it is not referred to as the ""WPBA").

"Also known as", when abbreviated on second or later occurrences, or in a table, should be given as a.k.a. or AKA (whichever reads easier in the context). Do not use aka, A/K/A, or other unusual renderings.

Expanded forms of abbreviations[edit]

Do not apply initial capitals in a full term that is a common noun phrase, just because capitals are used in its abbreviation.

Incorrect  (not a proper name):    We used Digital Scanning (DS) technology
Correct:   We used digital scanning (DS) technology
Correct: (proper name): produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Similarly, when showing the source of an "acronym or "syllabic abbreviation, emphasizing the letters that make up the acronym is undesirable:

Incorrect: FOREX (FOReign EXchange)
Incorrect: FOREX (foreign exchange)
Correct: FOREX (foreign exchange)

If it seems necessary to do so (for example, to indicate a potentially unclear etymology) use italics: BX (from "base exchange").

All caps and small caps[edit]


Avoid writing with "all caps (all capital letters), including "small caps (all caps at a reduced size), when they have only a stylistic function. Reduce them to "title case, "sentence case, or normal case, as appropriate.

Certain material may be written with all capitals or small capitals:



For trademarks, editors should choose among styles already in common use (not invent new ones) and, among those, use the style that most closely resembles standard English text formatting and capitalization rules. For trademarks that are given in mixed or non-capitalization by their owners (such as "adidas), follow the formatting and capitalization used by independent third party sources. When these are mixed, follow the standard formatting and capitalization used for "proper names (in this case, Adidas). The mixed or non-capitalized formatting should be mentioned in the article lead, or illustrated with a graphical logo.

Trademarks beginning with a one-letter lowercase prefix pronounced as a separate letter, followed by a capitalized second letter, such as "iPod and "eBay, are written in that form if this has become normal English usage. For considerations relating to such items, see the following section.

Items that require initial lower case[edit]


In contexts where the case of symbols is significant, like those related to "programming languages, "mathematical notation (for example, the mathematical constant "e is not equivalent to E), or the names of "units of physical quantities or their symbols, the correct case should always be retained, even in situations where normal rules would require capitalization, such as at the beginning of a sentence.[a] Try to avoid putting such lowercase symbols (or any non-alphabetic ones) at the start of a sentence within running text. (See also "Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Mathematics.)

Some individuals do not want their personal names capitalized. In such cases, Wikipedia articles may use lower case variants of personal names if they have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources (for example, "k.d. lang). When such a name is the first word in a sentence, the rule for initial letters in sentences and list items should take precedence, and the first letter of the personal name should be capitalized regardless of personal preference.

For proprietary names such as "eBay, see Trademarks above.

If an article title begins with such a letter that needs to be in lower case (as in the above examples), use the {{"lowercase}} template or equivalent code. Note that it is not currently possible to make "categories display with an initial lowercase letter in an article's category box. Hence the link to "Category:eBay at the foot of the article "eBay must display as "EBay". Similarly the article title "eBay will be displayed as "EBay" in the category listing.

Anglo- and similar prefixes[edit]

Most words with prefixes such as Anglo-, Franco-, etc., are capitalized. For example, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-French and Anglo-Norman are all capitalized. However, there is some variation concerning a small number of words of French origin. In French, these words are not capitalized, and this sometimes carries over to English. There are variations by country, and since editors often refer to only one dictionary, they may unwittingly contravene "WP:Manual of Style § Varieties of English by changing usage to that of their own country. In general terms, Americans are most favourable to capitalization and Canadians least favourable, with other countries falling somewhere in between. The main exceptions to the capitalization rule are the following.[5]

Romanize, Latinize, and related words are sometimes lowercased in a linguistic context in particular, but more often capitalized.

Titles of works[edit]

In English-language titles, every word except for articles, short coordinating conjunctions, and short prepositions is capitalized, as is the first and last words within a title (including a subtitle). This is known as "title case. Capitalization of non-English titles varies by language.

This is not applied to Wikipedia's own articles, which are given in "sentence case:[a] capitalize the first letter, and proper names (e.g., "List of selection theorems, "Foreign policy of the Hugo Chávez administration).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wikipedia uses "sentence case for sentences, "article titles, "section titles, "table headers, "image captions, "list entries (in most cases), and entries in "infoboxes and similar templates, among other things. Any instructions in MoS about the start of a sentence apply to items using sentence case.
  2. ^ The capitalized "The" in "The Hague is an exception because virtually all reliable sources consistently make this exception, and it is listed in major off-Wikipedia style guides and dictionaries as conventionally spelled this way.
  3. ^ E.g.: "Troops Use Machine Gun on Boston Mob: 5,000 Guarding City as Riots Continue – City Acclaims Parade of Fighting First". The New York Times. September 10, 1919. Retrieved January 8, 2009. 
  4. ^ The alphabet in which Latin and related languages were originally written had no lower case.
  5. ^ While some (primarily "news) publishers prefer small caps over all caps for acronyms and initialisms, this is not the majority usage. As a more practical concern, Wikipedia has tens of millions of acronyms in its articles, and marking up all of them in small caps would be a nearly endless drain on editorial productivity, while complicating the wikicode for no clear reader or editor benefit.
  6. ^ Various bible editions put "Lord", "God", "Jesus", and even all words attributed to Jesus in red or otherwise highlighted text. This is not done on Wikipedia.
  7. ^ As with non-Latin-based scripts like Cyrillic and Chinese being automatically distinct from English, the presentation of ancient Latin, Gaulish, etc., in small caps makes italicizing it as non-English a superfluous over-stylization, and may even be misinterpreted to imply that the original inscription was slanted, defeating the attempt at fairly faithful reproduction.
  8. ^ Template {{"sc}} reduces input to all lowercase (when copy-pasted), but displayed as smallcaps: {{"sc|AbCdEF}} produces ABCDEF, copy-pastes as abcdef. The actual rule in linguistics has been expressed as "Put glosses of grammatical morphemes into a font which contrasts some way with the font used for glosses which translate lexical morphemes."[2] While small caps is often recommended,[3][4] not forcing these abbreviations to uppercase permits "reusers of our content to use whatever styling suits their purposes.


  1. ^ "Roe v. Wade, "410 "U.S. 113 (1973).
  2. ^ Macaulay, Monica Ann (2006). Surviving Linguistics: A Guide for Graduate Students. Cascadilla Press. 
  3. ^ Beck, David; Gerdts, Donna, eds. (24 May 2017). "Style for the formatting of interlinearized linguistic examples" (PDF). "International Journal of American Linguistics. "University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 26 November 2017. 
  4. ^ Committee of Editors of Linguistics Journals (31 May 2015). "The Leipzig Glossing Rules: Conventions for interlinear morpheme-by-morpheme glosses" (PDF). "Max Planck Institute / "University of Leipzig. Retrieved 26 November 2017. 
  5. ^ Sources have been consulted for the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, but not for Ireland or South Africa. Sources: US: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., The New Oxford American Dictionary. Canada: The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Gage Canadian Dictionary. UK: The Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd ed., revised), The Concise Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary (English–French). Australia: The Australian Oxford Dictionary. New Zealand: The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary.
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