Capitalization and names in web content

If you are unsure of the capitalization of a word that isn't covered here, check the Canadian Oxford dictionary.

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All caps

Do not use all capitalized (all caps) letters in a word, unless it's an abbreviation or acronym.


Government

Using ministry names

Avoid using ministry, organization or program names in content. Names change often, are not plain language and rarely describe the service. Research shows readers are not interested in what organization provides a service, they're interested in the service itself. Focusing on services and information requires less maintenance, has a longer lifespan and is easier to read.

Capitalizing ministry names

Capitalize proper ministry names but use lower case for generic use:

  • The Ministry of Finance is led by the Minister of Finance
  • The natural resource ministries are working together

Use lower case for a reference to a specific ministry that doesn't include its name:

  • The ministry plays a key role in taxation policies

Use lower case for:

  • the cabinet
  • the B.C. legislature
  • provincial parliament
  • the house (unless referring to federal Parliament), its committees and subcommittees
  • ministry departments
  • a speech from the throne or throne speech

Capitalize Parliament Buildings, both provincial and federal.

Indigenous and local government

Capitalize Indigenous and local government official names:

  • Village of Masset
  • Town of Creston
  • City of Prince Rupert
  • Ditidaht First Nation

Lower case local government councils, departments and boards:

  • Prince George advisory committee on accessibility
  • City of Nanaimo board of variance
  • Abbotsford's economic development department

Crown

The Crown is the state embodied in a person, the Queen. Capitalize Crown when referring to:

  • Crown land
  • Crown counsel
  • Crown corporation

Headings

Learn more about capitalizing headings.


Job titles

When a title is used before a person’s name, such as professors, medical doctors and cabinet ministers, it should be capitalized:

  • Prof. Yuka Kurokawa
  • Minister Isaac Asionyi
  • Dr. Alex Sampson

Otherwise, the title should be lower case and used after the name:

  • Yuka Kurokawa, professor of marine biology
  • Tharani Balachandran, deputy minister
  • Moussa Gbeho, executive director

Unless the title is a high-ranking provincial, federal or international official, such as:

  • Cabinet members, a Prime Minister, Members of Parliament, a President of a country (but not a company)

Always capitalize ministers’ titles. For ministers and the Premier, on second reference use their title followed by their last name:

  • Minister Asionyi

Lowercase titles preceded by ‘former’ or ‘acting’, such as:

  • acting prime minister
  • former premier

Lowercase government job titles for everybody below cabinet rank such as:

  • deputy minister of health
  • deputy to the premier
  • chief forester
  • ombudsperson
  • auditor general

Lowercase occupational titles and job descriptions:

  • The director of innovation

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

'Act' is capitalized only when referring to a specific act, not when it’s as a generic reference.


Lists

Always capitalize the first word of each item in a list. Unless providing examples of words that must be lowercase.


Locations

Addresses

Capitalize street types except when referring to 2 or more:

  • Choy Yuen Crescent
  • Salish and Nootka streets

Abbreviate addresses that include a street number:

  • 314 Cedar St.

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

  • Kiskatinaw Bridge
  • Yoho National Park
  • Marine Building

But not the word school:

  • Haahuupayak Elementary school
  • Kalamalka Secondary school

Use 'PO Box' without periods.

Regions

When referring to a specific region, capitalize it, such as:

  • Lower Mainland
  • Cariboo
  • Kootenay
  • Thompson-Okanagan
  • Nechako

Lowercase regions when referring to a general region, such as:

  • The west coast of Vancouver Island

But capitalize it as a region, such as:

  • The West Coast region is set between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean

Directions

Capitalize north, south, east and west when they designate a region or are part of a proper name. But not when they're indicating a direction:

  • West Vancouver, Downtown Eastside
  • Joginder Bains Park is south of Cowichan Lake

Nouns

Proper nouns

A proper noun is a specific name for a specific person, place, or thing. Always capitalize proper nouns, such as:

  • Governor General's Award
  • 'Ksan Historical Village and Museum
  • Ministry of Attorney General
  • Public Service Agency
  • Ramadan
  • University of Northern British Columbia

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

Always capitalize First Nations, Indigenous, Inuit and Métis.

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

  • The Province announced a government-to-government decision
  • Over five million people are spread throughout the province

Courts

Capitalize both superior and lower courts:

  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • Provincial Court

Lower case family court, juvenile court and youth court.

Common nouns

Common nouns refer to general, non-specific people, places, things, and ideas. Do not capitalize common nouns, such as:

  • directors and executive directors
  • the ministry
  • school districts
  • the public service

Projects and publications

Capitalize but do not italicize titles of projects, committees, publications, documents or forms:

  • The B.C. Active Transportation Infrastructure Grants Program offers two grant options for Indigenous and local governments

Use lower case when only part of the title is cited:

  • The active transportation grants help communities develop infrastructure and networks for human-powered forms of commuting

Quotes

Capitalize quotes within a sentence:

  • The email said, “We’re taking the next step in climate leadership by talking to British Columbians”

Species names

Lowercase the names of animals, birds, fish and trees. Only proper nouns get capitalized, for example:

  • northern flicker
  • sea otter
  • Canada goose
  • California sea lion

Capitalize genus but not species when using scientific names. Scientific names are the only appropriate use for italics:

  • Rangifer tarandus, Castor canidensis