For readable and transparent style, under-use rather than over-use capitals (also applies to acronyms).
Capitalize the full names of organizations and institutions. Capitalize proper nouns: a name used for a person, place or organization.
- Capitalize colleges, departments, schools and other academic units in their full and proper forms.
- For correct names, see the list of faculties-academics and Senate-approved research institutes and centres.
- It’s okay to capitalize the short form of a faculty or school name (e.g., Arts student, the School) after the full name has already been referenced (e.g., Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Health, School of Pharmacy).
- Do not use capitals when referring to a generic, as opposed to specific, department.
Examples using capitals:
- Renison University College
- the School of Optometry & Vision Science
- the Department of History
Examples that don’t need capitals:
- the history department
- public history courses
- the institute
- Capitalize committees, administrative or service departments and governing bodies
in their full and proper forms.
- When in doubt, check with the source.
Examples using capitals:
- Graduate Operations Committee (GOC)
- Graduate Student Association (GSA)
- the Office of Research
- the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room,
- the University of Waterloo Library,
- the Board of Governors
Examples that don’t need capitals:
- the rare book room
- the library
- a board member
- Use capitals when referring to a specific varsity team.
Example: Waterloo Women’s Varsity Basketball
- Use lowercase when mentioning teams generically.
Example: Most Ontario universities have a men's varsity hockey teams
- Capitalize awards, honours and decorations. Lowercase common-noun references standing alone
(e.g., the award, the prize, the cross)
- Capitalize principle words in awards, honours, funding awards, and scholarships.
- the Order of Canada
- the Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners
- the Distinguished Teacher Award
- Fine Arts History Scholarships
- a Canada Research Chair
- Nobel Prize, Donna Strickland (Nobel Prize in physics, 2018)
- Use capitals for Permanent Resident but not for citizen, as in Canadian citizen, or for study permit.
- Names of races, nations and the like are capitalized. Examples: Indigenous Peoples, Black culture, People of Colour, African-American, Asian, Caucasian, Chipewyan, Chinese, English-Canadian, French-Canadian, Indian, Inuk, Inuit, Jew, Jewish, Latin, Nordic.
- Terms such as “Islamophobia” are to be capitalized
- When writing about racism or anti-racism, capitalize only the name of the citizenship, nationality or race, not the word “anti” or “racism” unless it's being used in a title or at the beginning of a sentence. Examples: anti-Asian racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART)
Note: The Canadian Press Stylebook recommends writers use sensitivity and good taste when identifying race and nationality. Also, writers should only identify a person by national origin or immigration status when it is truly pertinent.
- Do not capitalize the word convocation unless referencing the University of Waterloo event’s name: Fall 2019 Convocation. Note: The word “the” is not part of the event name.
- Capitalize formal course names; articles (e.g., at, the, a, of, etc.) are lowercase. Examples: History of Modern Revolutions, Physiology of the Eye
- Capitalization is not needed when referring to general courses such as introductory physics.
Refer to the conventions for academic calendar section of the Waterloo Writing Style Guide.
Follow these capitalization rules for degrees:
- Do not capitalize the word degree.
- Capitalize full names of degrees, but not when referring to types of degrees generically.
Examples: Bachelor of Arts, doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy, bachelor’s degree, Master of Science,
- Do not include punctuation in abbreviations of university degrees and do not leave spaces between letters.
Examples: BA, BEd, BMath, MASc, OD, PhD.
- Waterloo alumni degrees generally follow the name and are enclosed in parentheses, except where this would interfere with good style or readability. Use a left-facing apostrophe with just the decade years, and leave a space before the apostrophe.
Examples: David R. Cheriton (MMath ’74, PhD ’78), who donated $25 million; former editor Linda Kenyon (BA ’83, MA ’87); Richard Yim (BASc ’16, MBET ’17).
More information under the formatting section.
Lowercase proper names that have acquired independent meaning (e.g., big data, French fries, roman type).
- Do not capitalize unless it is part of the name of a department or program appearing in its full and proper form, or unless it is a proper noun.
- Terms that are not proper nouns do not need capitals.
Note: Proper nouns remain capitalized (e.g., a student of English).
Examples: School of Architecture, Department of Physics and Astronomy, physics researchers, the architecture school.
- Capitalize faculty when referring to one of Waterloo’s six faculties. For example, the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty (on the second reference).
- Use a lowercase “f” to refer to the faculties in general or when referring to more than one.
Examples: Waterloo has six faculties, faculties of Arts and Science, all faculties have a colour palette, approved at the faculty level, faculty member.
- Use a lowercase “f” when referring to faculty members (i.e., professors).
Refer to list of faculties online for correct spelling and capitalization.
- Use capitals and do not italicize the titles of forms, including web forms.
Example: OUAC Form 101
- Use sentence case for headings (including web page titles) and subheadings.
- Note: Due to design, some website headings will be displayed in all-caps. Text should be entered with proper casing to support other unformatted usage of the text.
- Exception: Style isn’t followed when the heading includes an item such as a publication or title of an academic talk that would normally be capitalized or online form.
See the formatting section for more information.
- Do not capitalize occupations, professions or job names.
Exception: Capitalization is permitted when occupations, professions or job names are presented
in a list.
See People and titles for more information.
- Capitalize proper program names
(e.g., Earth Sciences, Chemistry).
- Do not capitalize program descriptions
(e.g., chemistry courses)
Example: No single discipline is better poised to confront these third-millennium challenges than
- Capitalize specializations, minors, certificates,
majors, diplomas and options when they are used
in their full form.
- Please complete the online application if you would like to declare a Human Nutrition Minor.
- As you may be aware, Planning students often pursue an Urban Design Specialization.
- Taylor chose to add a minor in Biology.
- Three-Year General Economics.
A student is doing a general degree in Economics.
Do not capitalize terms such as co-op and regular unless they are part of the official name of a department or program appearing in its full, proper, and official form.
Examples: Co-operative and Experiential Education vs. Honours Co-operative Biology.
Do not capitalize the names of academic terms or seasons (i.e., spring, summer, fall or autumn, winter).
Examples: fall term, spring 2020.