Grammar Tip – Rules for Capitals

The North American trend for capitalizing words is now “modified down.” What this means is that if you can’t decide whether to capitalize a word or not, you should probably leave it in lower case.

A good guideline is if you are using the official name of the organization, use capital letters. If you are shortening the name, choose the lower case for the common noun.

Government of Ontario

Ontario government

Words such as city, town, bank, committee, department, company, staff, board and administration are always lowercased.

Only the articles (a, an, the) that are part of an organization’s proper name should be capitalized.

I am going to visit The Hospital for Sick Children.

There is a regional cancer centre at the Credit Valley Hospital.

If you are not sure that an article is part of an organization’s proper name, then check their letterhead or website.

Formal titles directly preceding a name are capitalized: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mayor McCallion, Sgt. Fournier.

Occupations or job descriptions are lowercased: doctors, nurses, lawyers, auditors, chairman John Roberts.

* These rules are based on The Canadian Press book Caps and Spelling, 19th Edition.