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3.1 To capitalize or not to capitalize

Leaders in writing style standards are advocating a shift toward less capitalization and punctuation. The Canadian Press refers to it as "a modified down style" that 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.

The Canadian Press continues to use "lowercase" and "uppercase" as single words, contrary to the two-word format adopted by the Oxford Canadian Dictionary and this style guide.

This guide recommends a lower case style for several reasons supported by various sources consulted in its preparation:

  • when too many words are capitalized in text, they lose their importance and no longer attract the attention of the reader.
  • copy is easier to read when capitalized words are limited.
  • lower case style does not diminish the stature or credibility of a person's or department's position or reputation.
  • judicious use of capitalization combined with white space and typeface can improve the effectiveness of print materials.

3.2 A general rule for capitalization

Rule of thumb Capitalize common nouns when they represent a complete formal name, and use lower case in the partial or informal versions of the name.

  • the University of Saskatchewan; the university
  • the Government of Manitoba; the Manitoba government; the government

3.3 Capitalization of job and position titles

Rule of thumb In running text, capitalize formal job titles when they appear directly in front of a name and are not set off by a comma.

  • Director Chris Phooster; Chris Phooster, director; the director
  • Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Margaret Thatcher, prime minister; the prime minister

Formal titles are those than could be used with the surname alone.

  • Bishop Williams

Check This Also see job and position titles, Section 3.5.7

3.4 Capitalization in quotations

Capitalize the first word of a quotation that is a complete sentence.

3.5 Capitalization at USask

3.5.1 Academic programs

Use the general rule of capitalization for formal academic programs within colleges and departments.

  • the Ukrainian Studies Program; Ukrainian studies; the Vocal Studies Program; vocal studies

3.5.2 Academic subjects

Do not capitalize academic subjects except when the subject is also a proper noun.
  • English, engineering, French, chemistry, law, Latin

3.5.3 Building names

Only the full and formal name of a building should be capitalized. Use lower case for informal titles.

  • Agriculture Building, but ag building

3.5.4 Committee names

The names of committees, task forces and other working groups do not require capitalization.

  • the nominating committee
  • the land use task force

3.5.5 Degrees and other awards

Use the general rules of capitalization to refer to degrees and awards.

  • Doctor of Philosophy; doctorate
  • Master of Business Administration; master’s degree in business administration, MBA
  • Bachelor of Arts; baccalaureate or bachelor’s degree
  • Professional Certificate in Land Management; land management certificate

Check This See abbreviations of degrees, Section 1.6

3.5.6 Unit and department names

Heads Up Follow the general rules of capitalization.

  • Department of Political Studies, political studies department, the department
  • Facilities Management Division, FMD, the division

3.5.7 Job and position titles

In running text, capitalize formal job titles when they appear directly in front of a name and are not set off by a comma. Use lower case in other instances.

  • Manager of Payroll Helen Crane
  • Helen Crane, payroll manager
  • the manager
  • English Professor Scott Mead
  • Scott Mead, professor of English (capitalize English because it is a proper noun)
  • the professor
  • Toxicology Professor Sylvia Danes
  • Sylvia Danes, professor of toxicology
  • the professor

Heads Up Always hyphenate the titles "vice-president" and "vice-provost".

When making reference to USask vice-presidents in running copy, do not set off their area of responsibility with commas or parentheses.

  • William Pender, vice-president of finance and resources

Commas setting off areas of responsibility are acceptable in lists.

  • William Pender, vice-president, finance and resources


Heads up  A "heads-up" icon alerts you to common style issues.

Check This  Watch for "Check this out" icons to point you to more information.

Rule of Thumb  We've put together a few handy and easy-to-remember tips.

PC Mac  Some punctuation characters mentioned in the style guide (such as the en-dash) are in the extended character set. This means these characters cannot be found on your keyboard, but you can type in key codes to retrieve them. We have included the common keystrokes for both Mac and PC.