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Academic units

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, arts students, public history courses, the college, the institute.

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Administrative units

  • Capitalize administrative or service departments and governing bodies in their full and proper forms.
  • When in doubt, check with the source.

Examples using capitals: the Office of Research, the Office of the Registrar, the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, the University of Waterloo Library, the Senate, the Board of Governors

Examples that don’t need capitals: the registrar’s office, the rare book room, the library, a board member

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Use capitals for Permanent Resident but not for citizen, as in Canadian citizen, or for study permit. Also use the term international student, not foreign student.


  • Capitalize principal words in awards, honours, funding awards, and scholarships.

Example: 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

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  • Capitalize formal course names; articles (at, the, a, of, etc.) are lowercase.
  • Avoid using course codes (e.g. ENGL 133) in materials intended for general audiences.
  • Capitalization is not needed when referring to general courses such as introductory physics
  • Use the <abbr> HTML tag for course codes used in digital documents and web pages.

Example: History of Modern Revolutions, Physiology of the Eye.

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  • Capitalize only in their proper forms
    • Examples: Bachelor of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy. The type of degree does not need to be capitalized.
    • Examples: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate
  • Do not include punctuation in abbreviations of university degrees and do not leave spaces between the letters. Capitalize only the beginnings of words.

    • 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)

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  • 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.

Example: School of Architecture, a student of English, Department of Physics & Astronomy, physics researchers, the architecture school

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  • Use capitals and do not italicize the titles of forms.
    • Example: OUAC Form 101

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  • Use sentence case for headings (including web page titles) and subheadings.
  • Exception: when the heading includes an item such as a publication or title of an academic talk that would normally be capitalized

See the formatting section for more information.

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  • Lowercase the generic part in the plural that would be capitalized in the singular.

Example: King and Weber streets, the universities of Waterloo and Toronto, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

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  • Do not capitalize occupations, professions, or job names. (See People and titles for more information.)

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Programs, specializations, minors and options

  • Capitalize proper program names. Do not capitalize program descriptions.

Examples: the general English program, the honours geology program, English is also available as a minor or joint honours program.

  • Capitalize specializations, minors, and options when they are used in their full form.


  • Kinesiology students can choose to add a Pre-Health Professions option.
  • Planning students often pursue an Urban Design specialization.
  • Taylor chose to add a minor in Political Science.

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  • For newspapers, films, books, magazines, plays, poems, works of music, and the like, capitalize all principal words, including subtitles.
  • Capitalize “The” at the beginning of a title, but not in the case of the Bible, English-language newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and the like. (see also "the")
  • For most titles, capitalize the first and last word.
  • For academic papers with long titles, capitalize only the first word. Capitalize only the first word of subtitles.

Examples: The Taming of the Shrew, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet, the film Two for the Road, the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, The New Yorker, Le Droit, the Record, the Globe and Mail

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Systems of study (co-op versus regular)

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 Education & Career Action vs. "All Engineering students are in a co-op program."


  • Do not capitalize the names of academic terms.

Example: fall term, spring term

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  • When "the" is part of a geographical name, usage varies (see also publications)

Example: the Yukon, The Pas, the Netherlands, The Hague, the House of Commons, the Record, the Royal York Hotel, the Bay, the Victoria Cross. 

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Titles of people

See People and titles for guidelines and capitalization.

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University of Waterloo

Learn how to use the University's official name and short forms.

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