Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Wikipedia avoids unnecessary

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

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

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

This includes over-capitalization for signification, i.e. to try to impress upon the reader the importance or specialness of something in a particular context. Introduction of a

term of art may be wikilinked and, optionally, given in non-emphasis italics on first occurrence. Example: use The community of researchers in a field may produce a scientific consensus
, not ... may produce a Scientific Consensus.


On Wikipedia, most

word acronyms
, that are pronounced as if they were words, with an initial capital letter only, e.g., do not write UNESCO as Unesco, or NASA as Nasa.

Use only source-attested acronyms and initialisms; 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 more easily in the context). Do not use aka, A/K/A, or other unusual renderings.

Expanded forms of abbreviations

Do not apply initial capitals—or any other form of emphasis—in a full term that is a common-noun phrase just because capitals are used in its abbreviation:

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

Similarly, when showing the source of an

initialism, or syllabic abbreviation
, emphasizing the letters in the expansion that make up the acronym is undesirable (it may insult the intelligence of the reader):

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

After hyphenation

In article text, do not use a capital letter after a hyphen except for terms that would ordinarily be capitalized in running prose, such as proper names (e.g.

WP:Manual of Style/Titles § Hyphenation

All caps and small caps

Avoid writing with

sentence case
, or normal case, as appropriate.

  • Reduce newspaper headlines and other titles from all caps to title case – or to sentence case if required by the citation style established in the article. For example, replace the headline or title "WAR BEGINS TODAY" with "War Begins Today" or, if necessary, "War begins today".[b]
  • Reduce track titles on albums where all or most tracks are listed in all capitals. For which words should be capitalized, see
    WP:Manual of Style/Titles § Capital letters
  • Reduce court decisions from all caps. Write Roe v. Wade, even though the decision as issued reads ROE v. WADE.[1]
  • Reduce proclamations, such as those for the Medal of Honor, from all capitals.
  • Reduce text written in all capitals in trademarks – see WP:Manual of Style/Trademarks.
  • Reduce Latin quotations and terms from all capitals,[c] and put them in italics as non-English. As this is a form of transliteration, the Latin V should be normalized to v or u, as appropriate, per modern conventions for rendering Latin. (See below for a linguistics exception. See also WP:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Foreign terms.)
  • Reduce names of companies or other trademarks from all caps to sentence case, unless they are acronyms or initialisms, even if the company normally writes them in all caps. See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks.
  • Do not write with all capitals for emphasis; italics are preferred (see § Do not use for emphasis, above). In quoted material, all caps or small caps for emphasis should be replaced with italic emphasis or, in an already italic passage, boldface (with HTML <strong> or {{strong}}).

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

  • Acronyms and initialisms (see § Acronyms, above); these are given in all caps, not small caps.[d]
    • There are some exceptions on Wikipedia. Acronyms that have been fully assimilated into English as words are given in lowercase (laser, scuba), as are various Latinisms such as am, pm; see WP:Manual of Style/Abbreviations for details.
    • Some uses of small caps that are common in the house styles of particular publishers are not used on Wikipedia; the most common are for Roman numerals (use XIV, not XIV) and for acronyms for eras (use BCE, AD, etc., not BCE, AD).
  • In religion, renderings of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) – but not of Adonai – can be formatted with the templates {{LORD}} and {{GOD}}, when the distinction is important. These employ a mixture of all caps and small caps common in many Bible editions: LORD. Do not style these or similar words in colored text.[e]
  • Certain citation styles (e.g.,
    |DeVoto}} visually produces DeVoto, which copy-pastes as DeVoto. However, if such a citation style is not already established at an article, it is better avoided, as it is difficult to read and complicates the markup.
  • The names of Unicode code points are conventionally given in small caps using the template {{unichar}} or similar. Example: the character U+2053 SWUNG DASH). This is only done when presenting tables of Unicode data, and when discussing code point names as such. Otherwise prefer unstyled, plain-English character names (whether they coincide with code point names or not): the hyphen and the en dash, not the HYPHEN-MINUS and the EN DASH.
  • Textual excerpts, inscriptions, example words, and letterforms in classical Latin, Greek, and other
    Gaulish language § Orthography, and excerpts at Duenos inscription. This usage should preserve the original orthography to the extent possible in Unicode (e.g., use of V in Latin for both v and u). When rendered this way, such material need not be italicized as non-English.[f] When it is not possible to render such material as text, a photograph may prove useful, if a free one is available
  • In linguistics and
    sc}}.[g] On first occurrence, use a piped link around the template: [[Plural|{{sc|pl}}]]. This style is not used for lexical glosses of content morphemes; these go in single quotes in a linear (inline) gloss (e.g., in Spanish perro, 'dog'), but no markup at all in an interlinear gloss
  • A further linguistics use of smallcaps ({{
    sc2}}) is representation of a lexical set; this markup is used in various linguistic articles and in our own reader-facing documentation that involves lexical sets, such as Help:IPA/English

Anglo- and similar prefixes

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, and since editors often refer to only one dictionary, they may unwittingly contravene Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Varieties of English by changing a usage to that which is more common in their own national dialect. The main (but not mandatory) exceptions to the capitalization rule are the following.[5]

  • anglicism, gallicism, etc.: These words are often, but not always, capitalized. Anglicism is less likely to be capitalized in Canada.
  • anglicize (anglicise), gallicize (gallicise), etc.: Anglicize is often capitalized in the US, and sometimes in other countries. Gallicize is often capitalized in the US, and usually capitalized in other countries.
  • anglophile, francophile, etc.: Words in this category are usually capitalized both as nouns and adjectives, except in Canada, where they sometimes are.
  • anglophone, francophone, etc.: These words are often capitalized in the US as adjectives, and usually as nouns. They are usually not capitalized in other countries, whether as nouns or adjectives.
  • anglophobe, francophobe, etc.: Words in this category are usually capitalized in all countries except Canada, where they sometimes are. The same applies to anglophobic.

Romanize, Latinize, and related words are often lowercased in a linguistic context in particular, but

usually capitalized; italic[s], in the typography sense, is always lowercase.

Animals, plants, and other organisms

Scientific names

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:

  • The names of genera are always capitalized (and italicized), even when not paired with a species name: Allosaurus, Falco, Anas.
  • The second part of a
    binomial species name
    is never capitalized, even when derived from a proper name (but is always italicized), and is always preceded by either the genus name, or a capitalized abbreviation of it if the full version has occurred previously in the same text: Thomson's gazelle is Eudorcas thomsonii or E. thomsonii.
  • In zoology, the same applies to the third part of a
    trinomial name
    : the arctic wolf is Canis lupus arctos or C. l. arctos.
  • In botany, the third part of a trinomial is preceded by an indication of rank which is not italicized: Poa secunda subsp. juncifolia, Acanthocalycium klimpelianum var. macranthum.

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, the English form derived from the Latin name should not be capitalized or 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

Lower-case initial letters are used for each part of the English (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). If interpretation could be ambiguous, use links or rewording to make it clearer.

As of 2017,[update] 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

plant ones, as well as a few on amphibians and reptiles

Names of groups or types

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

  • New World monkeys, slime molds, rove beetles, great apes, mountain dogs, Van cats

This also applies to an individual creature of indeterminate species.

Calendar items

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.

Celestial bodies

The words Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System are capitalized (as proper names) when used to refer to a specific celestial body in an astronomical context (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, such as when referring to sunshine (It was a clear day 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 Earth's galaxy, the Milky Way. Do not capitalize descriptive terms that precede the name of an astronomical object: comet Bradfield 1, galaxy HCM-6A.

Compass points

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.

Geological periods

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.

Headings, headers, and captions


sentence case, not title case
, capitalization in all section headings. Capitalize the first character of the first element if it is a letter, 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

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. For guidance after colons, 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.

Items that require initial lower case

In contexts where the case of symbols is significant, like those related to

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 Adidas (written as 'adidas' by the company itself) and eBay, see § Trademarks, below.

If an article title begins with such a letter that needs to be in lower case (as in the above examples), use the {{

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.


  • Full names of institutions, organizations, companies, etc. (United States Department of State) are proper names and require capitals. Also treat as a proper name a shorter but still specific form, consistently capitalized in reliable generalist sources (e.g., US State Department or the State Department, depending on context).
    • Avoid ambiguous use of terms like "city", "state", etc. to indicate a governing body. Write clearly to indicate "the city council", the "state legislature", or "the state government".
    • The word the at the start of a name is uncapitalized in running text, regardless of the institution's own usage (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
    • If you are not sure whether the English translation of a foreign name is exact or not, assume it is rough and use lower case (e.g., the French parliament).
  • Generic words for institutions, organizations, companies, etc., and rough descriptions of them (university, college, hospital, church, high school) do not take capitals:
Incorrect (generic): The University offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (generic): The university offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (proper name): The University of Delhi offers programs in arts and sciences.
  • Political or geographical units such as cities, towns, and countries follow the same rules: As proper names they require capitals; but as generic words and rough descriptions (sometimes best omitted for simplicity) they do not:
Incorrect (generic): The City has a population of 55,000.
Correct (generic): The city has a population of 55,000.
Correct (name of legal entity): The City of Smithville was incorporated in 1873.
Correct ("city" omitted): Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Exception ("City" used as shortened proper
name for the City of London
In the medieval period, the City was the full extent of London.
Incorrect (generic plural): The Cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.
Correct (generic plural): The cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.
Correct (plural legal entities): The City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton have dissimilar rent-control ordinances.

These principles also apply to terms for the output of institutions, companies, and other organizations (act, bill, law, regulation, product, service, report, guideline, etc.).

Military terms

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.

  • Military ranks follow the same capitalization guidelines as given under § Titles of people, below. For example, Brigadier General John Smith, but John Smith was a brigadier general.
  • Formal names of military units, including armies, navies, air forces, fleets, regiments, battalions, companies, corps, and so forth, are proper names and should be capitalized. However, the words for types of military unit (army, navy, fleet, company, etc.) do not require capitalization if they do not appear in a proper name. Thus, the American army, but the United States Army. Unofficial but well-known names should also be capitalized (the Green Berets, the
    Correct: the Fifth Company; the Young Guard; the company rallied.
    Incorrect: The Company took heavy losses. The 3rd battalion retreated.
  • Accepted names of wars, battles, revolts, revolutions, rebellions, mutinies, skirmishes, fronts, raids, actions, operations, and so forth are capitalized if they are usually capitalized in sources (
    Action of July 8, 1716, Western Front, Operation Sea Lion). The generic terms (war, revolution, battle) take the lowercase form when standing alone (France went to war; The battle began; The raid succeeded). Words such as campaign, offensive, siege, action, pocket, etc., are typically not frequently capitalized in sources, so are lowercase in Wikipedia (Bougainville campaign, American logistics in the Normandy campaign
  • Proper names of specific military awards and decorations are capitalized (Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross).
  • Terms such as soldier, sailor, airman, marine, and coast guardsman are not capitalized when describing an individual or a group, but are when used as a rank (see above).
    Correct: The soldiers landed on the beach.
    Incorrect: John Doe is a Marine

Musical and literary genres

Names of genres (such as musical or literary) are not capitalized unless they contain a proper name. 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: YouTube Poop is a type of video mashup.
Correct: YouTube poop is a type of video mashup.
Incorrect: Asimov is widely considered a master of Science Fiction.
Correct: Asimov is widely considered a master of science fiction.

Radio formats such as adult contemporary or classic rock are also not capitalized. The same goes for dance, including types, genres, styles, moves, and social activities (ballets de cour, ballroom dancing, traditional square dance, rock step, line dancing). Proper names, as always, are excepted: St. Louis shag.

Proper names

In English,

are also given
, for greater clarity and fuller information.

For information on the use of proper names as article titles, see

Wikipedia:Use English
For use of diacritics (accent marks), see Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Spelling and romanization.
For treatment of trademarks, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks.

Peoples and their languages

Names for peoples and cultures, languages and dialects, nationalities, ethnic and religious groups, demonyms, and the like are capitalized, including in adjectival forms (

does not capitalize
the e of español. If in doubt, check how multiple high-quality reliable sources in English treat the name or phrase.

Combining forms are also generally capitalized where the proper name occurs: (

Austro-Hungarian, un-American). Some may be fully fused and decapitalized if the name is mid-word; e.g., unamerican, panamerican, transatlantic, and antisemitism are well-attested. There is no consensus on Wikipedia for or against either form. However, prefer anti-Semitism in proximity to other such terms (Tatarophobia, etc.), else the lower-casing of Semitic may appear pointed and insulting. Similarly, for consistency within the article, prefer un-American and pan-American in an article that also uses anti-American, pan-African, and similar compounds. (See also WP:Manual of Style § US and U.S.
, for consistency between country abbreviations.)

Where a common name in English encompasses both a people and their language, that term is preferred, as in


Ethno-racial "color labels" may be given capitalized (Black and White) or lower-case (black and white).[h] The capitalized form will be more appropriate in the company of other upper-case terms of this sort (Asian–Pacific, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Indigenous,[i] and White demographic categories). Brown should not be used in Wikipedia's own voice, as it is ambiguous, and in the currently popular sense is informal, an Americanism, and a neologistic usage which conflicts with prior more specific senses. The old epithets Red and Yellow, plus Colored (in the American sense) and Negro, are generally taken to be offensive, and should only be used in quotations. When used in the context of direct quotations, titles of works, and organization names ("... Dr. Fu Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man"; E. R. Baierlein's In the Wilderness with the Red Indians; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; United Negro College Fund), follow the original's spelling. The term Coloured in reference to a specific ethnic group of Southern Africa is not a slur, and is capitalized; person/people of colo[u]r is not offensive, and not capitalized.

For eponyms more broadly, see WP:Manual of Style § Eponyms

Personal names

Personal names are the names given to people, but can be used as well for some animals (like race horses) and natural or man-made inanimate objects (like ships and geological formations). As proper nouns, these names are almost always first-letter capitalized. An exception is made when the lowercase variant has received regular and established use in reliable independent sources. In these cases, the name is still capitalized when at the beginning of a sentence, per the normal rules of English. Minor elements in certain names are not capitalized, but this can vary by individual:

used in the subject's own publications

Place names

Geographical or place names are the nouns used to refer to specific places and geographic features. These are treated like other proper names and take an initial capital letter on all major elements: Japan, Mount Everest, Gulf of Tonkin. Terms for types of places and features do not take capitals: the town hall; the capital city; an ocean; the savannah; karst topography.

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines, and their adherents

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.

Common nouns not used as titles should not be capitalized: the Norse gods, personal god, comparison of supreme beings in four indigenous religions. In biblical and related contexts, God is capitalized only when it is a title for the deity of the Abrahamic religions
, and prophet is generally not capitalized. Heaven and Hell are capitalized when referring to a specific place (Christians believe Jesus ascended to Heaven) but lowercase in other circumstances (the heavens opened up with rain; the ice cream was heavenly; reading this book was hell for him).

Transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense may also begin with a capital letter: Good and Truth. However, this can often seem stilted, biased, or even sarcastic, so it is best avoided when possible (e.g., confined to directly quoted material, or used in a philosophical context in which the usage is conventional); use an inquest seeking justice for the victims, not Justice. Nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise, are not capitalized: an avatar of Shiva, an ikon of Saint Arethas, Gabriel, a messenger of God, the crow as a manifestation of the Irish goddess Morrígan (not Avatar, Ikon, Messenger, Crow, or Manifestation).

Except in direct quotation,

for deities and figures of veneration are not capitalized, even if they are capitalized in scripture or according to a religious convention: Jesus addressed his followers, not Jesus addressed His followers.

The names of major works of scripture, such as the Bible, the Quran, the Talmud, and the Vedas, should be capitalized (but are often not italicized). The adjective biblical should not be capitalized. Quranic 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 archangel Gabriel). An exception to the general rule is made when such terms are used to denote races and the like in speculative fiction, 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 proper names of specific incidents or periods (the Great Flood and the Exodus; but ancient Egyptian myths about the Nile's annual flooding, and an exodus of refugees from Soviet religious persecution).

Doctrines, ideologies, philosophies, theologies, theories, movements, methods, processes, systems or "schools" of thought and practice, and fields of academic study or professional practice are not capitalized, unless the name derives from a proper name. E.g., lowercase republican refers to a general system of political thought (republican sentiment in Ireland); uppercase Republican is used in reference to

Platonic idealism but a platonic relationship; the Draconian
laws of Athens but complained of draconian policies at her workplace. 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 a virgin birth, original sin, transubstantiation, and method acting.

Science and mathematics

In the names of scientific and mathematical concepts, only proper names (or words derived from them) should be capitalized:

character other than the first
is considered the "first letter" for sentence- and title-case capitalization purposes.

For more guideline material relating to mathematics and sciences, see: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers, and Category:Wikipedia Manual of Style (science).

Sports, games, and other activities

Trademarked sports and games are capitalized

WP:Manual of Style/Titles

Terms relating to trademarked sports, games, and activities are capitalized if they are usually capitalized in the context of this activity:

ability scores
in Dungeons & Dragons, card names in Magic: The Gathering, etc. However, generic terms such as hit point, victory point, or player character are not capitalized.

Sports, games, and other activities that are not trademarked or copyrighted are not capitalized (except where one contains a proper name or acronym, or begins a sentence). This includes groups of sports or games (winter sports, carom billiards, trick-taking card games), traditional sports including modern ones (field hockey, triathlon, BASE jumping), traditional games (Texas hold 'em poker, chess, spin-the-bottle), folk and social dances and dance styles (kołomyjka, Viennese waltz, line dancing), and other such group and solo activities (flash mob, hackathon, birthday party, workout, biology class, political rally, binge-watch, speed dating, tweeting).

Likewise, venue types, sports equipment, game pieces, rules, moves, techniques, jargon, and other terms relating to sports, games, and activities are given in lower case and without special stylization such as italics (with the standard exceptions; e.g., capitalize proper names, italicize non-English words): football pitch, pool cue, queen of diamonds, infield fly rule, triple Lutz, semi-massé, spear tackle).

There are occasional, conventionalized variances, e.g.:

  • The names of standard
    chess openings are capitalized (Queen's Gambit, Neo-Grünfeld Defence).[j]
  • The name of the game Go is capitalized.[k]
  • The
    McTwist, an aerial skateboarding move, is named for its inventor, Mike McGill, and would be confusing as "mctwist".[l]
  • Olympic[s] and Paralympic[s] are capitalized, including when used as adjectives.

Specific competition titles and events (or series thereof) are capitalized if they are usually capitalized in independent sources: WPA World Nine-ball Championship, Tour de France, Americas Cup. Generic usage is not: a three-time world champion, international tournaments. None take italics or other special markup.

The above rules of thumb should also be applied to glossary entries; they are collectively an exception to the general practice of starting all list items with a capital letter, since upper-casing them all confuses readers as to which are proper names. (For our most-developed example of a glossary article, see Glossary of cue sports terms.)

There are also three related naming-conventions guidelines:


advice essays
that often include topical style, naming, and layout tips. (However, many aren't well-maintained, and may conflict with some current guideline and policy wording; remember that they are essays.)

Capitalization of The

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[m]
Incorrect: public transport in the
(a redirect)
Correct: weather in the Bahamas
Incorrect: weather in The Bahamas
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)

This also applies to indefinite articles (a, an): System of a Down not System of A Down. Other than titles of works, proper names starting with a required indefinite article that would be exceptions, like A Split-Second, are very rare.

There are special considerations for:


Titles of people

  • In generic use, apply lower case to words such as president, king, and emperor (De Gaulle was a French president; Louis XVI was a French king; Three prime ministers attended the conference).
  • Directly juxtaposed with the person's name, such words begin with a capital letter (President Obama, not president Obama). Standard or commonly used names of an office are treated as proper names (David Cameron was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Hirohito was Emperor of Japan; Louis XVI was King of France). Royal styles are capitalized (Her Majesty; His Highness); exceptions may apply for particular offices.
  • For fuller details, see
    Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies § Titles of people

Titles of works

In English-language titles, every word is capitalized, except for articles, short coordinating conjunctions, and short prepositions. The first and last words within a title (and within a subtitle) are capitalized regardless of their grammatical role. 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 cohomology theories, Foreign policy of the Hugo Chávez administration


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

proper names
(in this case, as in most, 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 that name. For considerations relating to such items, see § Items that require initial lower case above and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks § Trademarks that begin with a lowercase letter.


  1. ^
    and similar templates, among other things. Any instructions in MoS about the start of a sentence apply to items using sentence case.
  2. ^ 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 June 20, 2021.
  3. ^ The alphabet in which Latin and related languages were originally written had no lower case.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ^ A June–December 2020 proposal to capitalize "Black" (only) concluded against that idea, and also considered "Black and White", and "black and white", with no consensus to implement a rule requiring either or against mixed use where editors at a particular article believe it's appropriate. The status quo practice had been that either style was permissible, and this proposal did not overturn that. The somewhat unclear proposal closure was refined January–April 2021 and implemented, after a February–March 2021 overhaul of the rest of this section.
  10. ^ Chess openings are usually capitalized even in non-specialist works such as newspapers and novels, and near-universally in chess-specific ones, so this meets the Wikipedia "consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources" standard.
  11. ^ Reliable sources conventionally capitalize Go because of readability issues given the common English verb go.
  12. ^ McTwist is consistent with camel case treatment of similar words derived from Mc- names, e.g., McJob, McMansion.
  13. ^ 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.


  1. ^ Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
  2. .
  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. ^ Bernard Comrie; Martin Haspelmath; Balthasar Bickel (31 May 2015). "The Leipzig Glossing Rules: Conventions for interlinear morpheme-by-morpheme glosses" (PDF). Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  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.