Writing Style – Anglophone/Francophone: To Cap or Not to Cap

Deane’s question: “Should terms such as francophone and anglophone be capitalized. I don’t think so as they do not refer to races of people per se. However, especially in the case of francophone, people in government and in the press often write Francophone.”

BizWritingTip response: My first inclination was to say “no.” Do not capitalize these words.

Languages, groups of people and geographical locations are always capitalized. However, anglophone (someone who speaks English) and francophone (someone who speaks French) are descriptors. They do not directly refer to a nationality or a location.

The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling and the Oxford Canadian Dictionary both agree: lowercase.

Note: They do capitalize these words when combined with a location, e.g., Anglo-Quebecer, Franco-Manitoban.

But the Merriam-Webster dictionary accepts both the lowercase and uppercase versions.

The Gregg Reference Manual says the words should be capitalized, and the standard dictionary in Microsoft Word calls for a capital for Anglophone but accepts the lowercase  francophone.

The only thing I can now say is to pick your preferred style and be consistent with it.