GrammarPhile Blog

Capital Advice

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Dec 11, 2013 5:30:00 AM

the White HousePeople are sometimes confused regarding what words should be capitalized and what words should be all lowercase, especially when it comes to government bodies. Here's a partial list for you to refer to when writing your next proposal or press release:
  • administration; the Obama administration
  • brain trust
  • cabinet (but the Cabinet in the Obama administration)
  • city hall (the municipal government)
  • civil service
  • court (a royal court)
  • executive, legislative, or judicial branch
  • federal; the federal government; federal agencies
  • government
  • monarchy
  • parlement (French; but the Parlement of Paris)
  • state; church and state; state powers
  • the Department of State; the State Department; the department
  • the Bureau of the Census; the census of 1960
  • the County Board of Brevard County; the Brevard County Board; the county board
  • the Peace Corps
  • the United States Congress; the U.S. Congress; the Ninety-seventh Congress; Congress; 97th Cong.; congressional
  • the Crown (the British monarchy); Crown lands
  • the Privy Council (but a Privy Counsellor)
  • the Parliament of Canada; the Senate (upper house); the House of Commons (lower house)
  • the Chicago City Council; the city council
  • the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; the court of appeals
  • the Supreme Court of Canada
  • the League of Nations; the League
  • the Capitol (as distinct from the capital city)
Below are some other words and phrases we often see clients capitalize incorrectly. Here they are shown in the proper case.
  • the Boston Tea Party
  • the Cultural Revolution
  • the War on Poverty
  • the Great Depression; the Depression
  • the Great Recession
  • the Industrial Revolution
  • the civil rights movement
  • the cold war
  • the crash of 1929
  • the gold rush
  • the baby boom
  • September 11; 9/11
  • (President Johnson's) Great Society
  • the annual State of the Union address
  • the Checkers speech
  • Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech
  • ancient Greece
  • the baroque period
  • the colonial period
  • the Victorian era
  • the antebellum period
  • the Age of Reason
  • the Common Era
  • the Gay Nineties
  • the Enlightenment
  • the Middle Ages (but the medieval era)
  • the Bronze Age
  • the Ice Age
  • the nuclear age
  • the information age
  • the Great Plague; the plague
  • the Chicago Fire; the fire
  • the Kentucky Derby; the derby
  • Girl Scouts of America; a Girl Scout; a Scout
  • the League of Women Voters; the league

When in doubt, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style, your stylebook of choice, or a good dictionary for direction.

Topics: capitalization

Subscribe to Email Updates

Sign up for our emails!

Sign Up

Search Our Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all