Capitalization

In General

Capitalize official names and proper nouns. Do not capitalize common nouns and shortened forms of official names. Use the full, official name the first time it appears in a document or section of a document.

  • Lowercasing everything except full, official names simplifies decisions about when to capitalize shortened forms of official names.
  • Too many capitalized words cause them to lose importance and no longer attract attention.
  • Readability studies have shown that the use of initial caps or all caps makes copy more difficult to read.
  • The use of lowercase does not diminish stature or credibility. For example, the title "president of the United States" is lowercased in running text when it doesn't immediately precede the individual’s name.
  • When producing promotional or marketing materials, the skillful use of white space, typeface, and color is a much more effective way to emphasize copy points than the excessive use of initial caps or all caps.

Do Not Capitalize:

  • the administration
  • classes: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, first-year, second-year, etc.
  • the college
  • degrees: doctorate, doctor's, master's, bachelor's, baccalaureate
  • the department
  • unofficial or generic form names: admissions form, drop/add form
  • orientation
  • the program
  • seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter
  • the school
  • spring break
  • the university (when it stands alone in reference to the University of Michigan-Dearborn)

Academic and Nonacademic Units and Bodies

Capitalize only the complete and official names of colleges, schools, divisions, departments, offices, and official bodies.

Course Titles

For official course titles, use initial capitals and quotation marks.

  • “Topics in Comparative Literature” is a three-credit course.

Degrees

Capitalize abbreviations of degrees but not the spelled-out versions and not when referring to them generically.

Department Names

Capitalize official department names in running text. Lowercase shortened or unofficial names. Refer to the individual department, office, or unit for its official name. Do not use capitals when the department affiliation serves as an adjective rather than as a noun:

  • The dean announced that electrical engineering Professor Pat Mendez had been promoted.

Geographical and Related Terms

Capitalize geographical terms commonly accepted as proper names. Do not capitalize descriptive or identifying geographical terms that do not apply to only one geographical entity or are not considered proper names. In general, lowercase cultural or climatic terms derived from geographical proper names.

  • the Upper Peninsula, the Thumb, Metro Detroit, the South, southern, southwestern (direction), the Southwest (U.S.), the West, western Europe, the West Coast, the Middle East, the Midwest (U.S.), west, western, westerner

Job and Position Titles

Capitalize job titles only when they immediately precede the individual’s name or when they are named positions or honorary titles (as in the last two examples).

  • The Board of Regents appointed President Mary Sue Coleman to a second term.
  • After name – lowercase (preferred)
    • Edward Silver, dean, College of Education, Health, and Human Services
    • Kim Killu, associate professor of Education
  • Before name – capitalize
    • Dean, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Edward Silver
    • Associate Professor, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Kim Killu