Capitalisation – upper case or lower case?


Capitalisation is governed by style rather than grammar. It is subject to fashion. In the seventeenth century, almost all nouns were capitalised. In the twenty-first century, we favour minimalism.

Remember these basic rules:

Always use a capital letter to start a sentence.
Always use a capital letter at the beginning of a proper noun. A proper noun is a specific person, place, or organisation.

If you use a generic term in place of a proper noun, do not capitalise it, even if you are still referring to a specific person or organisation. For example, always capitalise ‘Government of Victoria’, but if you’re shortening the form to ‘the government’, use lowercase.
Study areas are not proper nouns. Do not capitalise academic subjects or areas of study unless they form part of a faculty name or are themselves proper nouns.
For example, ‘He has a degree in Russian literature.’

This is English – there are always exceptions. Formal degree titles are capitalised (a Bachelor of Science), as are holidays, historical periods, some religious terms, publications, and nationalities.

If in doubt, look it up in a dictionary.

Academic courses
Use uppercase for specific degrees, but lowercase for general degrees.
a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts)
a bachelor degree
an arts degree
Use lowercase to talk about courses or units within a degree.
Honours courses are available in women’s studies and Japanese linguistics.

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