Areas covered under capitalizations are:

college • president • titles • fields of study • academic degrees • names of offices • class • athletic teams • regions • ethnic groups • seasons • word in a series • RSVP • miscellaneous


  • Do not capitalize the word college even when it refers to Alma College specifically.

Most students spend their first year at Alma exploring the college’s many academic options.


  • Do not capitalize the word president when it refers to the president of Alma College.


  • Capitalize the titles designating employees’ positions only when they are placed before people’s names. President is capitalized before the name, lowercase and set off by commas after the name.

Professor of English Carol Bender presented a paper on creative writing.

Matt vandenBerg, vice president for advancement, agreed with the decision.

The registrar attended the annual meeting in Lansing.

EXCEPTION: President of the United States (as a phrase) is always capitalized, even when it stands alone.

This guideline applies to journalistic writing and to most text writing. However, in some publications it may be more appropriate to use uppercase for titles even when they follow the name (e.g., lists of faculty and administrators in the Academic Catalog).

Dr. Ed Lorenz, Reid-Knox Professor of History and professor of political science, has worked with the local community in obtaining funds to clean up pollution sites.

Fields of Study

References to academic programs or fields of study are not capitalĀ­ized in journalistic writing, with the exception of fields incorporatĀ­ing the name of a language (e.g., English, French, German, Spanish) or proper noun.

In publication writing, however, capitalization may be appropriate to draw attention to a specific field of study or academic program.

In program names that incorporate the prefix pre, uppercase the P on Pre and the first letter of the second word as in Pre-Medicine.

Consistency is the goal. Within Alma’s admissions publications, all academic program names are capitalized.

  • Do not capitalize the word program when it follows a discipline or area name. Use lowercase when program precedes a discipline or area name and is not being used as a title.

RIGHT: Alma’s biology program attracts many new students each year.

WRONG: Alma’s Program in Integrative Physiology and Health Science has an excellent placement rate.

RIGHT: The college’s financial aid programs are based on academic merit and range in value according to financial need.

Academic Degrees

  • Capitalize the official names of academic degrees; when referring to a type of degree in text, use lowercase and a possessive form.

Master of Arts degree
Bachelor of Science degree
master’s degree
bachelor’s degree

Names of Offices

  • Capitalize the names of offices at the college in publications, not in releases. Avoid using of in office nomenclature.

Admissions Office
Biology Department
Athletic Department


Office of the President
Office of the Provost

Do not capitalize the words department, office or center when used to take the place of an office’s full name.

The center conducts the Chicago In-City Interview Program twice a year.

Each academic department should elect a representative.

  • Use the Alma College Board of Trustees or the Board of Trustees as the official name of the college’s ruling body.

The Alma College Board of Trustees meeting will be May 11–12.

The board meeting took place May 12.

Are you planning to attend the May meeting of the Board of Trustees?


  • Use a capital letter when referring to a particular class as in the Senior Class. When referring to an individual student, use lowercase for the class name. Senior Thesis as a course name is uppercase.

The scholarship was made available to the Sophomore Class only.

Only juniors could participate in this contest.

  • Capitalize the name of an Alma College graduating class when referring to the origin of an individual or to the entire class.

Daniel Raleigh, Class of 1969, has retired from Commercial Bank in Alma.

The Class of 1970 included several graduates who became active politicians.

Athletic Teams

  • References to athletic teams are lowercase. When Alma fields both men’s and women’s teams in a particular sport, the names of both should be accompanied by a gender designation. In other words, use men’s basketball and women’s basketball, not basketball and women’s basketball.
  • Do no refer to female athletes as Lady Scots.


  • Use capital letters when referring to a continent or a particular region of the country rather than a direction.

North America (n)
the Midwest, the South, southern, southwestern
Upper Michigan, northern Michigan
mid-Michigan, Upper Peninsula
Third World
Near East, Near Eastern
Far East, Far Eastern
Middle East, Middle Eastern

Ethnic Groups

  • Capitalize the names of ethnic groups.

Minority enrollments reflect an increase in African Americans.

African Americans, whites and Hispanics all participated in the club.


  • Do not capitalize fall, winter and spring when referring to terms of the academic calendar.
  • Seasons of the year are not capitalized.

Students must meet with their advisors at the beginning of the fall term.

The academic year begins in the fall.

Word in a Series

  • To avoid space-consuming repetition, when more than one name ends in the same word, put the word at the end of the series and do not capitalize it.

Professor Willard was the music director at the West Shore Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony and Flint Symphony orchestras prior to her arrival at Alma.

Alma graduates have entered Duke, Western Kentucky, Northwestern and Southern Illinois universities.

The properties purchased were on Maple, Grant and Cedar avenues.


  • When requesting a response on an invitation to a campus event, use RSVP.


  • Do not capitalize the word biblical.
  • Capitalize the word the when it is part of an official title:

The Almanian
the Scot
the Detroit Free Press
The Saginaw News
The Ohio State University
the Alma Symphony Orchestra

  • Do not capitalize the word sorority or fraternity unless it is part of the organization’s name. [Note: Alma’s Greek organizations do not seem to specify whether this word is considered a part of the official name. Names of these organizations appear both with and without these words.]

Theta Chi has just established a new policy.

The Theta Chi fraternity has just established a new policy.

[Note: Alpha Gamma Delta and Alpha Xi Delta are officially called fraternities, not sororities. This could be written women’s fraternities, depending on the audience. TKE stands for the organization; Teke, for the person.]

  • Do not capitalize departmental honors.

Thirteen seniors earned departmental honors in history.

  • Capitalize the first word in a bulleted list, even when it is in the middle of a sentence.
    • Among others honored were
      Fifteen freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
  • Do not capitalize homecoming when it refers to the college’s annual event.

Each year 3,000 alumni return for homecoming.

  • The word century is not capitalized.
  • Most period designations are lowercased except for proper nouns and adjectives.

colonial period (U.S.)
Victorian era
baroque period
romantic period
Middle Ages