Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. In English, capitalization is primarily needed for proper names, acronyms, and for the first letter of a sentence.[a] Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is conventionally capitalized; only words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources are capitalized in Wikipedia.

There are exceptions for specific cases discussed below.

Do not use for emphasis[edit]

Initial capitals or all capitals should not be used for emphasis. If wording alone cannot provide the required emphasis, the <em>...</em> HTML element (or its ((em)) template wrapper) should be used:

Use: It is not only a little learning that is dangerous.
It is not only a LITTLE learning that is dangerous.
It is not only a Little learning that is dangerous.
It is not only a little learning that is dangerous.

This includes over-capitalization for signification, i.e. to try to impress upon the reader the importance or specialness of something in a particular context. Introduction of a term of art may be wikilinked and, optionally, given in non-emphasis italics on first occurrence. Example: use The community of researchers in a field may produce a scientific consensus, not ... may produce a Scientific Consensus.


On Wikipedia, most acronyms are written in all capital letters (such as NATO, BBC, and JPEG). Wikipedia does not follow the practice of distinguishing between acronyms and initialisms; do not write word acronyms, that are pronounced as if they were words, with an initial capital letter only, e.g., do not write UNESCO as Unesco, or NASA as Nasa.

Use only source-attested acronyms and initialisms; do not make up new ones (for example, the World Pool-Billiard Association is the WPA, and it is not referred to as the "WPBA").

"Also known as", when abbreviated on second or later occurrences, or in a table, should be given as a.k.a. or AKA (whichever reads more easily in the context). Do not use aka, A/K/A, or other unusual renderings.

Expanded forms of abbreviations

Do not apply initial capitals—or any other form of emphasis—in a full term that is a common-noun phrase just because capitals are used in its abbreviation:

Incorrect  (not a proper name):    uses Digital Scanning (DS) technology
Correct:   uses digital scanning (DS) technology
Correct (proper name): produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Similarly, when showing the source of an acronym, initialism, or syllabic abbreviation, emphasizing the letters in the expansion that make up the acronym is undesirable (it may insult the intelligence of the reader):

  • Incorrect: FOREX (FOReign EXchange)
  • Incorrect: FOREX (foreign exchange)
  • Incorrect: FOREX (foreign exchange)
  • Correct: FOREX (foreign exchange)

After hyphenation[edit]

In article text, do not use a capital letter after a hyphen except for terms that would ordinarily be capitalized in running prose, such as proper names (e.g. demonyms and brand names): Graeco-Roman and Mediterranean-style, but not Gandhi-Like. Letters used as designations are treated as names for this purpose: a size-A drill bit. (For cases involving titles of people, see WP:Manual of Style/Biography § Hyphenation and compounds; for titles of works, see WP:Manual of Style/Titles § Hyphenation.)

All caps and small caps[edit]

This section is about using all caps in articles. For the talk page guideline, see WP:SHOUTING. For misleading or misunderstood shortcuts, see WP:UPPERCASE.

Avoid writing with all caps (all capital letters), including small caps (all caps at a reduced size), when they have only a stylistic function. Reduce them to title case, sentence case, or normal case, as appropriate.

Certain material may be written with all capitals or small capitals:

Anglo- and similar prefixes[edit]

Most words with prefixes such as Anglo-, Franco-, etc., are capitalized. For example, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-French and Anglo-Norman are all capitalized. However, there is some variation concerning a small number of words of French origin. In French, these words are not capitalized, and this sometimes carries over to English. There are variations, and since editors often refer to only one dictionary, they may unwittingly contravene Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Varieties of English by changing a usage to that which is more common in their own national dialect. The main (but not mandatory) exceptions to the capitalization rule are the following.[5]

Romanize, Latinize, and related words are often lowercased in a linguistic context in particular, but otherwise usually capitalized; italic[s], in the typography sense, is always lowercase.

Animals, plants, and other organisms[edit]

Further information on article titles about organisms, including scientific names and common names and how and when to italicize their display: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora)

Scientific names

Scientific names including genus and species (sometimes also subspecies, or other infraspecific names) have an initial capital letter for the genus, but not for the [sub]species (and are always italicized): the tulip tree is Liriodendron tulipifera; all modern humans are Homo sapiens. More specifically:

Cultivar and cultivar group names of plants are not italicized, and are capitalized. Cultivar names appear within single quotes: Malus domestica 'Red Delicious'. Cultivar groups do not use quotation marks, but do include and capitalize the word "Group" in the name: Cynara cardunculus Scolymus Group. While the ICNCP has recently preferred the term "Group" (used by itself and capitalized) to refer to the cultivar group concept, please use the lower-case phrase "cultivar group" (aside from "Group" within an actual scientific name), as it is both less ambiguous and less typographically confusing to the average reader.

Orders, families and other taxonomic ranks above genus level have an initial capital letter (and are not italicized): bats belong to the order Chiroptera; rats and mice are members of the family Muridae and the order Rodentia. However, the English form derived from the Latin name should not be capitalized or italicized: members of the order Chiroptera are chiropterans; members of the family Muridae are murids and members of the order Rodentia are rodents.

Common names

Lower-case initial letters are used for each part of the English (common, vernacular) names of species, genera, families and all other taxonomic levels (bacteria, zebra, bottlenose dolphin, mountain maple, bald eagle), except where they contain a proper name (Przewalski's horse, Amur tiger, Roosevelt elk), or when such a name starts a sentence[a] (Black bears eat white suckers and blueberries). If interpretation could be ambiguous, use links or rewording to make it clearer.

As of 2017, wikiprojects for some groups of organisms are in the process of converting to sentence case where title case was previously used. Some articles may not have been changed yet (this may still be true of some insect articles and some plant ones, as well as a few on amphibians and reptiles).

Names of groups or types

The common name of a group of species or type of organism is always written in lower case (except where a proper name occurs):

This also applies to an individual creature of indeterminate species.

Calendar items[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Seasons

Capitalize the names of months, days, and holidays: June, Monday, Fourth of July, Michaelmas, the Ides of March. Seasons are uncapitalized (a hot summer) except when personified: soon Spring will show her colors; Old Man Winter.

Celestial bodies[edit]

The words Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System are capitalized (as proper names) when used to refer to a specific celestial body in an astronomical context (The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; the Moon orbits Earth). They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context, such as when referring to sunshine (It was a clear day and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter). However, they are capitalized in personifications, as in Sol Invictus ('Unconquered Sun') was the ancient Roman sun god.

Names of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, stars, constellations, and galaxies are proper names and begin with a capital letter (The planet Mars can be seen tonight in the constellation Gemini, near the star Pollux). The first letter of every word in such a name is capitalized (Alpha Centauri and not Alpha centauri; Milky Way, not Milky way). In the case of compounds with generic terms such as comet and galaxy (but not star or planet), the generic is retained at the end of the name and capitalized as part of it (Halley's Comet is the most famous of the periodic comets; astronomers describe the Andromeda Galaxy as a spiral galaxy). However, Milky Way galaxy is a descriptive phrase, without capitalized "galaxy", and should usually be reduced to the actual name, Milky Way, because that name is not ambiguous. If it is unclear what the Milky Way is in the context, consider using something clearer, like Earth's galaxy, the Milky Way. Do not capitalize descriptive terms that precede the name of an astronomical object: comet Bradfield 1, galaxy HCM-6A.

Compass points[edit]

Points of the compass (north, north-east, southeast, etc.), and their derived forms (northern, southeasterly, etc.) are not generally capitalized: nine miles south of Oxford, a northern road. They are capitalized only when they form part of a proper name, such as Great North Road.

Doubts frequently arise when referring to regions, such as eastern Spain and Southern California. If one is consistently capitalized in reliable sources (as with North Korea, Southern California or Western Europe), then the direction word in it is capitalized. Otherwise it is not, as with eastern Spain or southwest Poland. If you are not sure whether a region has attained proper-name status, assume it has not.

Follow the same convention for related forms: a person from the Southern United States is a Southerner.

Compound compass points are usually fully compounded in American English, for example northwest, while in British English they are sometimes written as separate words or hyphenated, as in north-west. This also affects names of regions such as Southeastern United States and South East England. Finer compass points take a hyphen after the first word, regardless, and never use a space: south-southeast or south-south-east, but not south-south east, south southeast, etc.

Geological periods[edit]

The names of formally defined geological periods and the rock layers corresponding to them are capitalized. Thus the Devonian Period or the Late Cretaceous Epoch are internationally defined periods of time, whereas the late Cretaceous is an unspecified time towards the end of the Cretaceous. Do not capitalize outside a complete formal name: thus the Devonian is a period rather than the Devonian is a Period.

Headings, headers, and captions[edit]

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Section headings

Use sentence case, not title case, capitalization in all section headings. Capitalize the first character of the first element if it is a letter, but leave the rest lower case except for proper names and other items that would ordinarily be capitalized in running text.

Use: Economic and demographic shifts after World War II
Avoid: Economic and Demographic Shifts After World War II

The same applies to the titles of articles, table headers and captions, the headers of infoboxes and navigation templates, and image captions and alt text. (For list items, see next section.)

Linking is easier if titles are in sentence case. It is easier for articles to be merged or split if headings resemble titles.

Initial letters in sentences and list items[edit]

The initial letter in a sentence[a] is capitalized. This does not apply if it begins with a letter which is always left uncapitalized (as in "eBay"; see § Items that require initial lower case, below), although it is usually preferable to recast the sentence.

When an independent clause ends with a dash or semicolon, the first letter of the following word should not be capitalized, even if it begins a new independent clause that could be a grammatically separate sentence: Cheese is a dairy product; bacon is not. For guidance after colons, see WP:Manual of Style § Colons.

In a list, if each item of the list is a complete sentence, then it should be capitalized like any other sentence. If the list items are sentence fragments, then capitalization should be consistent – sentence case should be applied to either all or none of the items. See WP:Manual of Style § Bulleted and numbered lists.

Items that require initial lower case

In contexts where the case of symbols is significant, like those related to programming languages, mathematical notation (for example, the mathematical constant e is not equivalent to E), or the names of units of physical quantities or their symbols, the correct case should always be retained, even in situations where normal rules would require capitalization, such as at the beginning of a sentence.[a] Try to avoid putting such lowercase symbols (or any non-alphabetic ones) at the start of a sentence within running text. (See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Mathematics.)

Some individuals do not want their personal names capitalized. In such cases, Wikipedia articles may use lower-case variants of personal names if they have regular and established use in reliable third-party sources (for example, k.d. lang). When such a name is the first word in a sentence, the rule for initial letters in sentences and list items should take precedence, and the first letter of the personal name should be capitalized regardless of personal preference.

For proprietary names such as Adidas (written as 'adidas' by the company itself) and eBay, see § Trademarks, below.

If an article title begins with such a letter that needs to be in lower case (as in the above examples), use the ((lowercase)) template or equivalent code. Note that it is not currently possible to make categories display with an initial lowercase letter in an article's category box. Hence the link to Category:eBay at the foot of the article eBay must display as "EBay". Similarly the article title eBay will be displayed as "EBay" in the category listing.


Incorrect (generic): The University offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (generic): The university offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (proper name): The University of Delhi offers programs in arts and sciences.
Incorrect (generic): The City has a population of 55,000.
Correct (generic): The city has a population of 55,000.
Correct (name of legal entity): The City of Smithville was incorporated in 1873.
Correct ("city" omitted): Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Exception ("City" used as shortened proper
name for the City of London
In the medieval period, the City was the full extent of London.
Incorrect (generic plural): The Cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.
Correct (generic plural): The cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.
Correct (plural legal entities): The City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton have dissimilar rent-control ordinances.

These principles also apply to terms for the output of institutions, companies, and other organizations (act, bill, law, regulation, product, service, report, guideline, etc.).

Military terms[edit]

WP:MARINE redirects here. You may also be looking for Wikipedia:WikiProject Oceans, Wikipedia:WikiProject Marine life or Wikipedia:WikiProject Seattle Mariners.

The general rule is that wherever a military term is an accepted proper name, as indicated by consistent capitalization in sources, it should be capitalized. Where there is uncertainty as to whether a term is generally accepted, consensus should be reached on the talk page.

Musical and literary genres[edit]

Names of genres (such as musical or literary) are not capitalized unless they contain a proper name. For example:

Incorrect: The Rouge Admins are a Goa Trance band.
Incorrect: The Rouge Admins are a goa trance band.
Correct: The Rouge Admins are a Goa trance band.
Incorrect: YouTube Poop is a type of video mashup.
Correct: YouTube poop is a type of video mashup.
Incorrect: Asimov is widely considered a master of Science Fiction.
Correct: Asimov is widely considered a master of science fiction.

Radio formats such as adult contemporary or classic rock are also not capitalized. The same goes for dance, including types, genres, styles, moves, and social activities (ballets de cour, ballroom dancing, traditional square dance, rock step, line dancing). Proper names, as always, are excepted: St. Louis shag.

Proper names[edit]

In English, proper names, which can be either single words or phrases, are typically capitalized. Such names are frequently a source of conflict, especially when different cultures, using different names, "claim" someone or something as their own. (Avoid edit warring or pushing a particular viewpoint.) Wikipedia does not adjudicate such disputes, but as a general rule uses the name which is likely to be most familiar to readers of English. Alternative names often are also given, for greater clarity and fuller information.

For information on the use of proper names as article titles, see Wikipedia:Article titles. See also Wikipedia:Use English.
For use of diacritics (accent marks), see Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Spelling and romanization.
For treatement of trademarks, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks.

Peoples and their languages

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (languages)

Names for peoples and cultures, languages and dialects, nationalities, ethnic and religious groups, demonyms, and the like are capitalized, including in adjectival forms (Japanese cuisine, Cumbrian dialect). Cultural terms may lose their capitalization when their connection to the original culture has been lost (or there never really was one). Some fairly conventionalized examples are french fries, typographical romanization, english (cue-ball spin) in pool playing, scotch-doubles tournament, bone china, gum arabic, byzantine ('overly complex'). Some are more transitional and can be written either way: latinization of names, dutch date, lynching, and russian roulette. Always capitalized: French cuisine, cultural Romanization, English billiards, Scotch whisky, Arabic coffee, liturgical Latinization, the Byzantine Empire, Dutch oven. Avoid over-capitalizing adjectival forms of such terms in other languages, most of which do not capitalize as much as English does. E.g., the book title Diccionario biográfico español ('Spanish Biographical Dictionary') does not capitalize the e of español. If in doubt, check how multiple high-quality reliable sources in English treat the name or phrase.

Combining forms are also generally capitalized where the proper name occurs: (pan-Celticism, Austro-Hungarian, un-American). Some may be fully fused and decapitalized if the name is mid-word; e.g., unamerican, panamerican, transatlantic, and antisemitism are well-attested. There is no consensus on Wikipedia for or against either form. However, prefer anti-Semitism in proximity to other such terms (Tatarophobia, etc.), else the lower-casing of Semitic may appear pointed and insulting. Similarly, for consistency within the article, prefer un-American and pan-American in an article that also uses anti-American, pan-African, and similar compounds. (See also WP:Manual of Style § US and U.S., for consistency between country abbreviations.)

Where a common name in English encompasses both a people and their language, that term is preferred, as in Swahili people and Swahili language rather than Waswahili and Kiswahili.

Ethno-racial "color labels" may be given capitalized (Black and White) or lower-case (black and white).[h] The capitalized form will be more appropriate in the company of other upper-case terms of this sort (Asian–Pacific, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Indigenous,[i] and White demographic categories). Brown should not be used in Wikipedia's own voice, as it is ambiguous, and in the currently popular sense is informal, an Americanism, and a neologistic usage which conflicts with prior more specific senses. The old epithets Red and Yellow, plus Colored (in the American sense) and Negro, are generally taken to be offensive, and should only be used in quotations. When used in the context of direct quotations, titles of works, and organization names ("... Dr. Fu Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man"; E. R. Baierlein's In the Wilderness with the Red Indians; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; United Negro College Fund), follow the original's spelling. The term Coloured in reference to a specific ethnic group of Southern Africa is not a slur, and is capitalized; person/people of colo[u]r is not offensive, and not capitalized.

For eponyms more broadly, see WP:Manual of Style § Eponyms

Personal names

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Names

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people) and Wikipedia:WikiProject Anthroponymy

Personal names are the names given to people, but can be used as well for some animals (like race horses) and natural or man-made inanimate objects (like ships and geological formations). As proper nouns, these names are almost always first-letter capitalized. An exception is made when the lowercase variant has received regular and established use in reliable independent sources. In these cases, the name is still capitalized when at the beginning of a sentence, per the normal rules of English. Minor elements in certain names are not capitalized, but this can vary by individual: Marie van Zandt, John Van Zandt. Use the style that dominates for that person in reliable sources; for a living subject, prefer the spelling consistently used in the subject's own publications.

Place names

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Geographical items

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names)

Geographical or place names are the nouns used to refer to specific places and geographic features. These are treated like other proper names and take an initial capital letter on all major elements: Japan, Mount Everest, Gulf of Tonkin. Terms for types of places and features do not take capitals: the town hall; the capital city; an ocean; the savannah; karst topography.

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines, and their adherents[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles § Religious texts

Names of organized religions (as well as officially recognized sects), whether as a noun or an adjective, and their adherents start with a capital letter. Unofficial movements, ideologies or philosophies within religions are generally not capitalized unless derived from a proper name. For example, Islam, Christianity, Catholic, Pentecostal, and Calvinist are capitalized, while evangelicalism and fundamentalism are not.

Proper names and conventional titles referencing deities are capitalized: God, Allah, Freyja, the Lord, the Supreme Being, the Messiah. The same is true when referring to important religious figures, such as Muhammad, by terms such as the Prophet. Common nouns not used as titles should not be capitalized: the Norse gods, personal god, comparison of supreme beings in four indigenous religions. In biblical and related contexts, God is capitalized only when it is a title for the deity of the Abrahamic religions, and prophet is generally not capitalized. Heaven and Hell are capitalized when referring to a specific place (Christians believe Jesus ascended to Heaven) but lowercase in other circumstances (the heavens opened up with rain; the ice cream was heavenly; reading this book was hell for him).

Transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense may also begin with a capital letter: Good and Truth. However, this can often seem stilted, biased, or even sarcastic, so it is best avoided when possible (e.g., confined to directly quoted material, or used in a philosophical context in which the usage is conventional); use an inquest seeking justice for the victims, not Justice. Nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity, human or otherwise, are not capitalized: an avatar of Shiva, an ikon of Saint Arethas, Gabriel, a messenger of God, the crow as a manifestation of the Irish goddess Morrígan (not Avatar, Ikon, Messenger, Crow, or Manifestation).

Except in direct quotation, pronouns for deities and figures of veneration are not capitalized, even if they are capitalized in scripture or according to a religious convention: Jesus addressed his followers, not Jesus addressed His followers.

The names of major works of scripture, such as the Bible, the Quran, the Talmud, and the Vedas, should be capitalized (but are often not italicized). The adjective biblical should not be capitalized. Quranic is normally capitalized, but usage varies for talmudic, vedic, etc. Be consistent within an article.

Do not capitalize terms denoting types of religious or mythical beings, such as angel, fairy, or deva. The personal names of individual beings are capitalized as normal (the archangel Gabriel). An exception to the general rule is made when such terms are used to denote races and the like in speculative fiction, in which case they are capitalized if the work capitalizes them (the Elves of Tolkien's Middle-earth).

Spiritual or religious events are capitalized only when referring to proper names of specific incidents or periods (the Great Flood and the Exodus; but ancient Egyptian myths about the Nile's annual flooding, and an exodus of refugees from Soviet religious persecution).

Doctrines, ideologies, philosophies, theologies, theories, movements, methods, processes, systems or "schools" of thought and practice, and fields of academic study or professional practice are not capitalized, unless the name derives from a proper name. E.g., lowercase republican refers to a general system of political thought (republican sentiment in Ireland); uppercase Republican is used in reference to specific political parties with this word in their names (each being a proper-noun phrase) in various countries (a Democratic versus Republican Party stalemate in the US Senate). Nevertheless, watch for idiom, especially a usage that has become disconnected from the original doctrinal/systemic referent and is often lower-cased in sources (in which case, do not capitalize): Platonic idealism but a platonic relationship; the Draconian laws of Athens but complained of draconian policies at her workplace. Doctrinal topics, canonical religious ideas, and procedural systems that may be traditionally capitalized within a faith or field are given in lower case in Wikipedia, such as a virgin birth, original sin, transubstantiation, and method acting.

Science and mathematics[edit]

In the names of scientific and mathematical concepts, only proper names (or words derived from them) should be capitalized: Hermitian matrix or Lorentz transformation, Down syndrome. However, some conventionalized exceptions exist, such as abelian group and Big Bang theory. In some specialized fields, a character other than the first is considered the "first letter" for sentence- and title-case capitalization purposes.

For more guideline material relating to mathematics and sciences, see: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers, and Category:Wikipedia Manual of Style (science).

Sports, games, and other activities[edit]

Trademarked sports and games are capitalized like any other trademarks. Those that are published works (board games, roleplaying games, video games) are italicized like titles of other major works: Scrabble, Dungeons & Dragons, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Non-stand-alone add-on publications, such as RPG modules and DLCs are minor works and take quotation marks. Sport and game rule books and rule sets are also capitalized, italicized works; named chapters within them take quotation marks, and may be given in sentence case or title case as appropriate for the context, as with chapters of other works. (For more information on titles of works, see WP:Manual of Style/Titles.)

Terms relating to trademarked sports, games, and activities are capitalized if they are usually capitalized in the context of this activity: ability scores in Dungeons & Dragons, card names in Magic: The Gathering, etc. However, generic terms such as hit point, victory point, or player character are not capitalized.

Sports, games, and other activities that are not trademarked or copyrighted are not capitalized (except where one contains a proper name or acronym, or begins a sentence). This includes groups of sports or games (winter sports, carom billiards, trick-taking card games), traditional sports including modern ones (field hockey, triathlon, BASE jumping), traditional games (Texas hold 'em poker, chess, spin-the-bottle), folk and social dances and dance styles (kołomyjka, Viennese waltz, line dancing), and other such group and solo activities (flash mob, hackathon, birthday party, workout, biology class, political rally, binge-watch, speed dating, tweeting).

Likewise, venue types, sports equipment, game pieces, rules, moves, techniques, jargon, and other terms relating to sports, games, and activities are given in lower case and without special stylization such as italics (with the standard exceptions; e.g., capitalize proper names, italicize non-English words): football pitch, pool cue, queen of diamonds, infield fly rule, triple Lutz, semi-massé, spear tackle).

There are occasional, conventionalized variances, e.g.:

Specific competition titles and events (or series thereof) are capitalized if they are usually capitalized in independent sources: WPA World Nine-ball Championship, Tour de France, Americas Cup. Generic usage is not: a three-time world champion, international tournaments. None take italics or other special markup.

The above rules of thumb should also be applied to glossary entries; they are collectively an exception to the general practice of starting all list items with a capital letter, since upper-casing them all confuses readers as to which are proper names. (For our most-developed example of a glossary article, see Glossary of cue sports terms.)

There are also three related naming-conventions guidelines:

Various games- and sports-related wikiprojects also provide advice essays that often include topical style, naming, and layout tips. (However, many aren't well-maintained, and may conflict with some current guideline and policy wording; remember that they are essays.)

Capitalization of The[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (definite or indefinite article at beginning of name)

Do not ordinarily capitalize the definite article after the first word of a sentence;[a] however, some idiomatic expressions, including the titles of artistic and academic works, should be quoted exactly, according to common usage.

Correct (generic): an article about the United Kingdom
Incorrect: an article about The United Kingdom (a redirect)
Correct (title): J. R. R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings.
Incorrect: J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings. (a redirect)
Correct (title): Homer wrote the Odyssey.
Incorrect: Homer wrote The Odyssey. (a redirect)
Correct (exception): public transport in The Hague[m]
Incorrect: public transport in the Hague (a redirect)
Correct: weather in the Bahamas
Incorrect: weather in The Bahamas
Correct (exception): competed in The Open Championship (a specific golf tournament conventionally styled this way)
Incorrect: competed in The British Open (a redirect from a description not a name)

This also applies to indefinite articles (a, an): System of a Down not System of A Down. Other than titles of works, proper names starting with a required indefinite article that would be exceptions, like A Split-Second, are very rare.

There are special considerations for: band names · institution names · nicknames · titles of works · trademarks.

Titles of people[edit]

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Titles of people

Titles of works[edit]

Main page: WP:Manual of Style/Titles of works § Capital letters

In English-language titles, every word is capitalized, except for articles, short coordinating conjunctions, and short prepositions. The first and last words within a title (and within a subtitle) are capitalized regardless of their grammatical role. This is known as title case. Capitalization of non-English titles varies by language.

This is not applied to Wikipedia's own articles, which are given in sentence case:[a] capitalize the first letter, and proper names (e.g., List of cohomology theories, Foreign policy of the Hugo Chávez administration).


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks

For trademarks, editors should choose among styles already in common use (not invent new ones) and, among those, use the style that most closely resembles standard English text formatting and capitalization rules. For trademarks that are given in mixed or non-capitalization by their owners (such as adidas), follow the formatting and capitalization used by independent reliable sources. When sources are mixed, follow the standard formatting and capitalization used for proper names (in this case, as in most, Adidas). The mixed or non-capitalized formatting should be mentioned in the article lead, or illustrated with a graphical logo.

Trademarks beginning with a one-letter lowercase prefix pronounced as a separate letter, followed by a capitalized second letter, such as iPod and eBay, are written in that form if this has become normal English usage for that name. For considerations relating to such items, see § Items that require initial lower case above and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks § Trademarks that begin with a lowercase letter.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wikipedia uses sentence case for sentences, article titles, section titles, table headers, image captions, list entries (in most cases), and entries in infoboxes and similar templates, among other things. Any instructions in MoS about the start of a sentence apply to items using sentence case.
  2. ^ E.g.: "Troops Use Machine Gun on Boston Mob: 5,000 Guarding City as Riots Continue – City Acclaims Parade of Fighting First". The New York Times. September 10, 1919. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  3. ^ The alphabet in which Latin and related languages were originally written had no lower case.
  4. ^ While some (primarily news) publishers prefer small caps over all caps for acronyms and initialisms, this is not the majority usage. As a more practical concern, Wikipedia has tens of millions of acronyms in its articles, and marking up all of them in small caps would be a nearly endless drain on editorial productivity, while complicating the wikicode for no clear reader or editor benefit.
  5. ^ Various Bible editions put "Lord", "God", "Jesus", and even all words attributed to Jesus in red or otherwise highlighted text. This is not done on Wikipedia.
  6. ^ As with non-Latin-based scripts like Cyrillic and Chinese being automatically distinct from English, the presentation of ancient Latin, Gaulish, etc., in small caps makes italicizing it as non-English a superfluous over-stylization, and may even be misinterpreted to imply that the original inscription was slanted, defeating the attempt at fairly faithful reproduction.
  7. ^ Template ((sc)) reduces input to all lowercase (when copy-pasted), but displayed as smallcaps: ((sc|AbCdEF)) produces ABCDEF, copy-pastes as abcdef. The actual rule in linguistics has been expressed as "Put glosses of grammatical morphemes into a font which contrasts some way with the font used for glosses which translate lexical morphemes."[2] While small caps is often recommended,[3][4] not forcing these abbreviations to uppercase permits reusers of our content to use whatever styling suits their purposes.
  8. ^ A June–December 2020 proposal to capitalize "Black" (only) concluded against that idea, and also considered "Black and White", and "black and white", with no consensus to implement a rule requiring either or against mixed use where editors at a particular article believe it's appropriate. The status quo practice had been that either style was permissible, and this proposal did not overturn that. The somewhat unclear proposal closure was refined January–April 2021 and implemented, after a February–March 2021 overhaul of the rest of this section.
  9. ^ For more on Native American, First Nations and Indigenous naming conventions see MOS:CITIZEN and WP:TRIBE
  10. ^ Chess openings are usually capitalized even in non-specialist works such as newspapers and novels, and near-universally in chess-specific ones, so this meets the Wikipedia "consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources" standard.
  11. ^ Reliable sources conventionally capitalize Go because of readability issues given the common English verb go.
  12. ^ McTwist is consistent with camel case treatment of similar words derived from Mc- names, e.g., McJob, McMansion.
  13. ^ The capitalized The in The Hague is an exception because virtually all reliable sources consistently make this exception, and it is listed in major off-Wikipedia style guides and dictionaries as conventionally spelled this way.


  1. ^ Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
  2. ^ Macaulay, Monica Ann (2006). Surviving Linguistics: A Guide for Graduate Students. Cascadilla Press. ISBN 1-57473-028-2.
  3. ^ Beck, David; Gerdts, Donna, eds. (24 May 2017). "Style for the formatting of interlinearized linguistic examples" (PDF). International Journal of American Linguistics. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  4. ^ Bernard Comrie; Martin Haspelmath; Balthasar Bickel (31 May 2015). "The Leipzig Glossing Rules: Conventions for interlinear morpheme-by-morpheme glosses" (PDF). Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  5. ^ Sources have been consulted for the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, but not for Ireland or South Africa. Sources: US: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., The New Oxford American Dictionary. Canada: The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Gage Canadian Dictionary. UK: The Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd ed., revised), The Concise Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary (English–French). Australia: The Australian Oxford Dictionary. New Zealand: The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary.