Don’t capitalize short forms of the names of university programs and facilities: the law school, the library, the financial aid office, etc.
Use capitalization only for official names of programs or departments, not for the names of disciplines, to prevent confusion. If you capitalize a word such as an academic discipline, a reader may take that to be the official name of your department or organization. Exception: do capitalize those words derived from proper nouns, such as French, English and American.
Capitalization may suggest that a word has some meaning for your department or field other than the widely recognized meaning. Rather than conveying importance, excessive capitalization may thus make your copy look jargony. Keep your prose as serviceable and accessible as possible.
Capitalization does not confer prestige or importance—it’s what you say about a discipline or program that conveys quality or prestige to the reader.
When in doubt, consult a current dictionary, which will reflect current usage and the spellings and forms your readers will understand.
See certificates and forms; departments; disciplines; divisions; programs.
certificates and forms
The following guidelines apply to the titles of academic and professional certificates (as in Class AA Professional Certificate); visas; government forms; specialized forms, such as financial aid forms; and other documents referred to by name.
Terms that are more descriptive than anything else—such as application for admission, declaration of intent or application for admission to candidacy—should not be capitalized.
Capitalize the first word and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs in the name of the form:
Class AA Certificate, Class AA certification
Class A Professional Certificate
the “A” Certification in School Psychometry
Form I-20AB Certificate of Eligibility
IAP-66 Certificate of Eligibility
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
When a number is part of a form’s name, use the numeral and omit any punctuation:
Wrong: Form 1,040EZ
Right: Form 1040EZ
Wrong: Form Two-A
Right: Form 2A
chair, chairman, chairwoman, chairperson
Use the organization’s official title or that preferred and used by the individual. Samford University officially uses chair for most positions. It is more important to be consistent and accurate than to be nonsexist. If the chair is male, call him chairman unless he prefers another designation. Avoid chairperson unless it is the official title for the office.
Don’t capitalize freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, postgraduate, postdoctoral, nondegree or any similar designation, unless it is part of a title, a headline or the official name of an organization.
colleges and schools, Samford University
Drop Inc. or Ltd. in most informative publications, particularly if the name of the company clearly indicates that the entity is a company. If the company’s name is also the name of a product, however, including Inc. or Incorporated might clarify matters. In legal or technical documents and directories, Inc. and Ltd. may stand if needed. In all cases, be consistent: if you use Inc. with one company’s name, use the equivalent abbreviation for all.
Friday Lumber Company, Friday Lumber
Norfolk Southern Corporation, Norfolk Southern
Capstone Title Services, Capstone Title
but Newsweek Inc. (to avoid confusion with the name of the magazine)
Capitalize Samford University Core Curriculum and University Core Curriculum, but lowercase curriculum in other uses:
a 300-level course
a senior-level course
a course at the 400 level
a course at the freshman level
course numbers and titles
When a course number and title are given together, give the alpha symbol and number followed directly by the title. There is no intervening punctuation, nor should there be any abbreviation of words in the title.
ART 231 Painting I
RELG 211 Preaching
HIST 334W Folklore: Europe to America
Do not use alpha symbols when speaking generally of a department or program’s courses or of an academic discipline.
Wrong: Students may count up to 18 hours in SOCI, POLS or PSYC toward the major.
Right: Students may count up to 18 hours in sociology, psychology or political science toward the major.
When listing courses by number, repeat the alpha symbol with each number.
Wrong: The required courses include ENGL 200, 205 and 301W or 302W.
Right: The required courses include ENGL 200, ENGL 205 and ENGL 301W or ENGL 302W.
Any two distinct courses, no matter how closely linked, should be indicated by and instead of a colon.
The required courses include ENGL 200 and ENGL 205, ENGL 303W and ENGL 304W, and ENGL 301W or ENGL 302W.
Use numerals for credit hours, no matter how small the number.
If the number begins a sentence, headline or title, it should be spelled out.
When writing a statement such as he earned 5 hours’ credit, always include ’s or s’ with hour or hours, or use of:
You need 36 hours’ credit to graduate.
For my senior thesis, I earned 6 hours’ credit.
For the independent study, he earned 1 hour’s credit.
She earned 15 hours of credit for her work at RISE.