See also: Names and Titles

In General

Official names and proper nouns are capitalized. In subsequent references, any common nouns or shortened forms of official names are lowercased. Use the full, official name the first time it appears in a document or section of a document.

  • The Colorado Collection contains more than 5,000 works of art. The collection was started in 1939 as a teaching tool for students.

The Case for Lowercase

In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. When too many words are capitalized, they lose their importance and no longer attract attention. Copy is more easily read when it isn’t peppered with initial caps or all caps.

Using lowercase letters in no way diminishes the stature or credibility of an individual’s position or a department’s reputation. After all, even the title “president of the United States” is lowercased in running text when it doesn’t immediately precede the president’s name.

Academic and Nonacademic Units and Bodies

Capitalize only the complete and official names of colleges, schools, divisions, departments, offices and official bodies (such as Board of Regents, Boulder Faculty Assembly, United Government of Graduate Students). Lowercase informal and shortened versions of all such names. (See also the department names section on this page.)

  • The College of Arts and Sciences offers nearly 50 undergraduate majors. The arts and sciences departments are housed in several different buildings on campus.
  • All of the regents were in attendance at the Board of Regents meeting last week.
  • Exceptions: The University of Colorado Law School is often simply called Colorado Law, and the Leeds School of Business is often called the Leeds School.

Academic Degrees

Capitalize the names of degrees unless they're referred to generically, as in the second example.

  • Julie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at CU Boulder.
  • Larry earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering last year.


Capitalize all words in a street name unless you are referring to more than one street, as in the second example.

  • First Street, Arapahoe Avenue
  • First and Third streets

Committee, Center, Group, Program and Initiative Names

Unless a committee, center, group, program or initiative is officially recognized and formally named, avoid capitalizing. An ad hoc committee’s name, for example, would not typically be capitalized. Do capitalize the official, proper names of long-standing committees and groups and formally developed programs and initiatives.

  • The Mountaineering Collection in Norlin Library contains a wealth of intriguing materials. The collection is located on the library’s third level.
  • The Honors Program is designed to provide special educational opportunities for highly motivated students.
  • The Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity was formed to review University of Colorado diversity programs.
  • The university’s presidential search committee met in executive session Tuesday.

Composition Titles

In titles, capitalize the first word; the last word; the first word after a colon; and all nouns, verbs (including short verbs, such as is, are, be), pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions of four or more letters (with, before, through) and conjunctions of four or more letters (that, because).

Unless they fall into one of the previously listed categories, do not capitalize articles (a, an, the) unless they are part of a proper noun; conjunctions of fewer than four letters (and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet); nor prepositions of fewer than four letters (on, of, to, by).

  • Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years is a popular guide for parents.
  • The library recently received three copies of Educating Minds Through Active Learning.

Course Titles

Style official course titles with initial capitals but without quotation marks, italics or any other formatting.

  • Students should consider taking Accounting Issues for Lawyers as well as Agency, Partnership and the LLC.

Department Names

Capitalize official department names and office names in running text. References using shortened or unofficial names should be lowercase. See also the ampersand (&) section on the "Abbreviations" page.

  • The Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences is nationally known for its teaching and research.
  • Mary Moore of economics has been promoted to associate professor.
  • Faculty members from the geography, anthropology and ethnic studies departments are cooperating on this project.

Geographical and Related Terms

Capitalize geographical terms commonly accepted as proper names. In general, capitalize words that designate regions, but lowercase words that indicate compass directions.

  • the Flatirons, the Front Range, the Rocky Mountain region
  • the West, the Midwest, the West Coast, a Southern accent, the Western culture, the Eastern influence
  • The storm is moving east.

Government Programs

Following the general rules of capitalization, full formal or accepted titles of plans, policies, laws and similar documents or agreements, together with names of programs resulting from them, are usually capitalized. Incomplete names are lowercased.

  • In connection with the Federal Privacy Act of 1974, Section 7 (b), when disclosure of the Social Security number . . .


Capitalize grade letters and use an apostrophe when plural. Use one or two decimal places as necessary when writing GPAs.

  • She got an A and three B's, which brought her overall GPA to 3.5.
  • He has a 4.0 GPA, and his roommate has a 3.93.

Job and Position Titles

Capitalize formal titles only when they immediately precede the individual’s name or when they are named positions or honorary titles (as in the last example).

  • It’s common knowledge that President Barack Obama loves to play basketball.
  • The president, Barack Obama, took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009.
  • The president of the United States serves a four-year term of office.
  • Have you taken a course from Professor Sherman?
  • Sherman, a music professor, does not teach in the summer.
  • John Sherman, professor of music, does not teach in the summer.
  • Philip P. DiStefano is the 11th chancellor of the CU Boulder campus.
  • In his commencement speech, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano quoted Alfred Lord Tennyson, saying, “I am part of all that I have met.”
  • The vice chancellor for student affairs uses a variety of means to improve students’ lives on the Boulder campus.
  • Jane Doe of economics has been promoted to associate professor.
  • Charles Wilkinson is Moses Lasky Professor of Law.

Long Titles

When a person has a very long title, put the title after the name to avoid clumsy syntax and too much capitalization.

  • Jane Bear, special assistant to the president and director of special university projects, is moving her office to the new administration building.

Job Descriptions

Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.

  • Former astronaut Scott Carpenter studied aeronautical engineering at CU Boulder.

Titles in Addresses and Display Format

When a title appears in an address or other display format (such as list of administrators in an annual report), as opposed to running text, the title can be capitalized even if it appears after the name.

  • Jean Warren, Director
  • John Smith, Associate Director

Seasons and Semesters

Seasons, semesters and terms should all be lowercase.

  • spring semester
  • fall 2013
  • summer 2014 term (no commas)
  • summer session
  • spring break


The symbols ® and ™, which often appear on product packaging and advertisements, need not be used in running text.

The University

There is still considerable confusion about whether to capitalize university when the word refers to the University of Colorado. We recommend a foolproof solution: no capitalization unless you are spelling the full name of the university. In most cases, context will clearly indicate when university refers to the University of Colorado. In cases where there may be ambiguity, writers can easily substitute the university or CU Boulder.

  • The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to diversity. To that end, the university sponsors several programs and offices that encourage diversity and provide support to university faculty, staff and students of diverse backgrounds. Developing campuswide understanding of diversity is important at every university in the country.