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Public Affairs

Capitalization

A. When in doubt, do not capitalize.

B. Capitalize

  1. Proper nouns, months, days of the week, but not the seasons.
  2. All words, except articles (the, a, an), conjunctions (and, or, for, nor) and short prepositions of less than four letters (of, in, on) in headings and the titles of books, plays, lectures, musical compositions, etc., including A and The if at the beginning of a title or after a colon.
    • Tradition: A History of the Presidency of Clemson University
    • For Whom the Bell Tolls
    • Gone With the Wind
  3. The official names of departments when used in text; do not capitalize the informal name.
    • He enrolled in the Department of Civil Engineering.
      but
    • He enrolled in the civil engineering department.
  4. All conferred and traditional, educational, occupational and business titles when used specifically in front of the name; do not capitalize these titles when they follow the name.
    • President James F. Barker, Clemson University
    • James F. Barker, president
    • James F. Barker, FAIA
    • Professor Esin Gulari is dean of the College of Engineering and Science.
      Note: In tabular matter and addresses, these titles may be capitalized regardless of location.
  5. The words Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force when referring to United States armed forces, whether or not preceded by the letters U.S.
  6. The words association, building, center, club, conference, department, division, hall, office, program, senate, street, etc. when used as part of a title; thereafter, do not capitalize the words when used alone to refer to that specific place or group.
    • the Faculty Senate; thereafter, the senate
    • the Department of History; thereafter, the department
    • the Madren Center; thereafter, the center
    • the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life; thereafter, the institute
    • the state of South Carolina; thereafter, the state
    • Board of Trustees; thereafter, the board
  7. A specific course or subject.
    • ENGL 217 Vocabulary Building
  8. Entire geographic names.
    • Hartwell Lake
    • Pickens County
    • Anderson and Oconee counties
  9. Geographical regions of the country, but not points of the compass (direction or locality).
    • A storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward.
  10. The word Southern when referring to a cultural or area distinction.
    • Southern cooking
    • The Southern way of life
  11. Names of athletic clubs and teams.
    • the Tigers
    • the Atlanta Braves
  12. Figure or Table, and their abbreviations, when used in text to designate a specific insert.
    • Figure 1 shows the flotation process.
    • The flotation process (Fig. 1) removes the fish wastes.
  13. Names of all races and nationalities.
    • African-American (but black), Caucasian (but white), Nigerian, Irish, Japanese
  14. The word room when used to designate a particular room.
    • Room 21 of Hardin Hall
  15. Official college degrees when spelled out.
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts, but bachelor’s degree
    • Master of Science, but master’s degree
  16. The major when it appears as part of the degree; however, lowercase major when it follows the word degree.
    • Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
    • She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.
  17. In headlines, subheads and publication titles, when one part of a hyphenated compound adjective is capitalized, both parts should be capitalized. However, fractions and compounds containing a prefix are exceptions.
    • The Two-Headed Monster of Chaos Theory
    • When Older Students Re-enter College
    • How to Earn One-half Your Tuition in One Summer
  18. The word Family in the context of the Clemson Family.
    • The Clemson Alumni Association strives to keep you connected with your Clemson Family.

C. Do Not Capitalize

  1. Titles standing alone or in apposition.
    • The chair of the School of Architecture must approve all research papers.
    • Contact the budget director for further information.
    • Martin J. Jacobi, professor of English, will speak at the symposium.
  2. Names of school or college studies, fields of study, options, curricula, major areas, or major subjects, except languages, unless a specific course is being referred to (see B7).
    • He is studying philosophy and English.
    • Each student must meet general education requirements in mathematical sciences and humanities.
    • Clemson University offers a curriculum in communications.
  3. The unofficial or informal names of departments when used in text.
    • He enrolled in the civil engineering department.
  4. Organized groups or classes of students in a university or high school, or the words freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate.
    • John Smith is a junior in the College of Business and Behavioral Science.
    • The senior class will conduct its annual election tomorrow.
  5. Unofficial titles preceding a name.
    • pianist Lillian Harder
  6. The words or abbreviations a.m., p.m., baccalaureate, federal, state, government, honors, page, paragraph.
  7. Common names of plants and animals except proper nouns and adjectives.
    • Queen Anne’s lace, Canada thistle, dandelion, spring beauty
  8. Names of seasons, including references to semesters.
    • The fall semester begins in mid-August.

NOTE: Grammatical rules regarding capitalization are often bent for the sake of visual appeal, especially in headings or display type.

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