Capitalization

Follow these rules for capitalization on B.C. government websites.

General Rules

If you are unsure of the capitalization of a particular word that isn't covered here, check a Canadian Oxford dictionary or the Canadian Press (CP) Style Guide.

Capitalize proper nouns.

  • Dr. June Jones
  • Professor Smith

Do not capitalize common nouns.

  • We met with our doctor and the professor

Capitalize a quote or an independent question within a sentence.

  • The premier said, “We’re taking the next step in climate leadership by engaging with British Columbians on new climate actions to support a growing economy"

Capitalize each item in a bulleted list (see Lists for more).

There are several species in the deer family in the province:

  • Mule deer
  • Fallow deer
  • Elk

Capitalize proper names of educational courses, but lowercase course names when speaking in general terms.

  • I finished Biology 101 last spring
  • I’m taking a biology course this summer

Capitalize awards, honours and decorations.

  • Governor General's Award
  • Order of Canada
  • Victoria Cross

Capitalize the full names of acts.

  • Victims of Crime Act

Capitalize Aboriginal and First Nations at all times.

Capitalize Internet and lowercase intranet. Do not capitalize website, web page or webcast. (See more about word usage.)

Locations

Capitalize street names except when referring to two or more. Abbreviate in addresses with a number. (See more about abbreviations.)

  • Douglas Street, Hillside Avenue
  • Douglas and Blanshard streets
  • 1006 Douglas St.

Capitalize proper names of well-known buildings, bridges, parks, roads and other manufactured features.

  • Johnson Street Bridge
  • Inside the Douglas Building
  • Beacon Hill Park

Regions

Capitalize West Coast, the West, the Interior, the Island, Lower Mainland, the North, the Northeast when referring to regions. Lowercase west coast of Vancouver Island, the B.C. coast.

Capitalize north, south, east and west when they designate a region or part of a proper name but not when they reference a general direction or location.

  • North Vancouver, West Vancouver
  • We went north on Douglas Street and turned east on Fort Street

Capitalize the word province only when it refers to the government of the province.

  • The Province of British Columbia
  • Victoria is the capital of the province

Headings

See the Headings section.

Organizations

Capitalize the names of companies, schools, associations, boards, alliances and coalitions.

  • Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Mount Douglas Secondary, University of Northern British Columbia

Words such as department, division, centre and program are only capitalized when they are part of the formal title.

  • The Victoria Police Department will announce the new police chief this month
  • The police department sponsors a youth program to keep young people off the street

Capitalize superior courts but not lower courts.

  • The Supreme Court overturned the verdict of the provincial court

Capitalize a specific name but use lower case for generic names.

  • Contact the Strategic Human Resources Branch for more information
  • Contact your human resources office for more information
  • Pamphlets are available at any Consumer Taxation Branch office
  • Information is available at any branch office

Government

Capitalize proper ministry names but use lower case for generic or plural.

  • Ministry of Health, Ministry of Energy and Mines
  • The justice and natural resource ministries
  • Typically, government natural resource ministries manage groundwater

Use lower case for the following:

  • The cabinet
  • The B.C. legislature
  • Provincial parliament
  • The house (unless referring to federal Parliament), its committees and subcommittees
  • Various ministry departments
  • Local government councils, departments and boards
  • A speech from the throne or throne speech

Capitalize Crown when referring to the state.

  • Crown land
  • Crown counsel
  • Crown corporation
  • The Crown dropped the charges

Capitalize full names of royal commissions, but not when the reference is generic.

  • Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations (Rowell-Sirois Commission)
  • The royal commission was set up to look into the Canadian economy and federal-provincial relations

Legislation

Full names of acts are capitalized but not italicized. The words “section” and “regulation” are lower case unless part of the full title.

  • Energy Efficiency Act
  • The act defines energy efficiency
  • These notes concern the new energy act

Publications

Capitalize the title of a project, committee, publication, document or form when you write the entire title. Use lower case when only part of the title is cited.

Don’t italicize the names of publications and forms.

  • Neighbourhood Enhancement Grant
  • The neighbourhood grants

Titles

When a title is used with a person’s name, it should be capitalized.

  • President McDougall, President Jane McDougall

When the title is used without the name, or is set off by a comma, it should be lower case unless the title is a high-ranking federal, provincial or international official.

  • Jane McDougall, president of McDougall Publications
  • Finance Minister, Janet Jones
  • Cabinet members, the Prime Minister, the Member of Parliament, the Attorney General, the President, the Pope, the Queen

Do not capitalize titles of lesser federal, provincial or local governments when they follow or replace a personal name.

Lowercase occupational titles and job descriptions.

  • The senior business analyst or procurement specialist

Capitalize ministers' titles at all times. Note: This is an exception to CP Style, which says titles should be capitalized only when they precede the minister’s name.

To minimize the number of exceptions to CP Style, avoid referring to “the Premier” or “the Minister of X” on second reference. For ministers, use their names instead.

Lowercase government job titles for everybody below cabinet rank.

  • deputy minister of health John Doe
  • deputy to the premier Jane Doe
  • chief forester John Smith
  • ombudsperson Jane Smith
  • auditor general Tom Jones

Lowercase titles preceded by “former” or “acting.”

  • acting prime minister Jane Jones
  • former premier Amor de Cosmos

Science

Capitalize common names of birds, as they are standardized. Do not capitalize the common names of anything else unless there is a proper noun in the name.

  • Northern Flicker, American Robin, Marbled Murrelet
  • sea otter, California sea lion, cabbage white butterfly
  • Anderson’s holly fern, step moss, fragrant popcorn flower

Capitalize genus but not species when using scientific names.

  • Rangifer tarandus, Castor canidensis

ALL CAPS

Never write sentences, titles, headings or paragraphs in all caps.

See Abbreviation and Acronyms.