Capitalisation is governed by style rather than grammar. It is subject to fashion. In the seventeenth century, almost all nouns were capitalised. In the twenty-first century, we favour minimalism.
Remember these basic rules:
- Always use a capital letter to start a sentence.
- Always use a capital letter at the beginning of a proper nouns. A proper noun is a specific person, place, or organisation.
- If you use a generic term in place of a proper noun, do not capitalise it, even if you are still referring to a specific person or organisation. For example, always capitalise 'Government of Victoria', but if you're shortening the form to 'the government', use lowercase.
- Study areas are not proper nouns. Do not capitalise academic subjects or areas of study unless they form part of a faculty name or are themselves proper nouns. (For example, 'He has a degree in Russian literature.')
- This is English – there are always exceptions. Formal degree titles are capitalised (a Bachelor of Science), as are holidays, historical periods, some religious terms, publications, and nationalities.
- If in doubt, look it up. The Macquarie Dictionary fifth edition usually indicates whether you should capitalise a word. (Sign in via the library's information kiosk.) The Style manual for authors, editors and printers sixth edition has a bounty of information on capitals, and is the Monash editorial standard. You can find it in Monash libraries.
This alphabetised list answers some of the most common capitalisation questions at Monash.
Use uppercase for specific degrees, but lowercase for general degrees.
a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts)
a bachelor degree
an arts degree
Use lowercase to talk about courses or units within a degree.
Honours courses are available in women's studies and Japanese linguistics.
Capitalise the first word of a subject or unit name.
Logistics control systems
KOS3010 Korean civilisation
Acts of parliament
Use title case, and italicise. (See our italics section for more information.)
Residential Tenancies Act 1997
Armed forces and military titles
Capitalise full names of armies, navies, air forces, etc.
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Navy
Articles in journals and chapters in books
Capitalise only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns, and use Roman in single quotes.
'The anti-nuclear movement in Japan'
Our online service ask.monash is a database of frequently asked questions and also allows students to ask their own questions about Monash.
It should always be written in lowercase.
Capitalise names of stars, planets, satellites, etc. Capitalise 'Earth' when it is used as the planet name; lowercase it when it is used to mean soil, or in a phrase like 'the earth sciences'.
Auditoriums, concert venues
Capitalise the full name.
Robert Blackwood Concert Hall
George Jenkins Theatre
We no longer use this term. Instead, just refer to 'signing in'
Sign in to your Monash account with your Monash email address.
Generally, use italics and capitalise the full name.
Zero Degrees of Empathy
Subtitles often take sentence case.
A Pedagogy of Place: Outdoor education for a changing world
Generally, capitalise brand names. However, if the brand has unusual capitals, preserve the form.
Capitalise days and months.
To refer to Australian campuses, use the full name in the first reference, then 'the [campus] campus' in the second. 'Campus' should always be in lowercase. For example:
Monash University's Caulfield campus (first reference)
the Caulfield campus (second reference)
Do not use the term 'Monash Caulfield'.
Capitalise the Campus Centre, and the official titles of other offices and buildings within Monash.
Use lowercase for chemicals and their compounds.
Use a lowercase 'c' for the Monash University Library collection. However, use capital 'c' for the library's several special collections:
Ada Booth Slavic Collection
Asian Studies Research Collection
Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection
Gilligich Yiddish Collection
Melbourne Centre for Japanese Language Education Collection (first reference); MCJLE Collection (second reference)
Music and Multimedia Collection
Pacific Law Collection
Rare Books Collection
Vera Bradford Music Collection
College and university names
Uppercase 'college' when part of a proper name; lowercase when used generically.
Victorian College of the Arts
Accommodation is not available at the college
Do not capitalise committee names.
Capitalise the title of a conference. Generally use title case for the subtitle.
Monash International Banking Conference: Insights into Islamic banking
Cooperative Research Centres
Cultural movements, periods and styles
Use lowercase for numerical periods. Capitalise proper names.
Use lowercase for most historical or cultural period names, except for proper names and adjectives.
Capitalise names of cultural movements and styles if they are derived from proper nouns; otherwise use lowercase.
Capitalise 'department' when it is included as part of the full title of the department name, but use lowercase when the name is shortened or used informally.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
the biochemistry and molecular biology department
Use italics and capitalise the full name.
What John Berger Saw
Capitalise when you use the faculty's name in full, but not when contracted or used on second reference.
the Faculty of Science
the science faculty
Federal and state
Use lowercase unless part of a specific title.
Leaders of Australia's state governments met in Canberra today.
The State Government today denied the union's claims. The government will contest the matter in court.
Foreign names and titles
Foreign names and titles should be treated carefully. Sometimes it's not apparent which is the family name, or whether or not to use a particular title such as Chief, Ratu, Datuk and so on. If in doubt, contact that country's embassy or high commission in Australia. If you're not sure which is the family name, repeat the full name on second reference.
Always use lowercase for 'graduation'.
Lowercase when used generically; uppercase when referring to a specific government.
The government of the day ruled that…
The Federal Government has announced an inquiry into safe injecting rooms.
Lowercase when used generically; uppercase when referring to a specific department.
All education departments have been asked to meet new funding deadlines.
The NSW Education Department sought legal advice on the student's claims. The department is satisfied the incident did not happen.
Lowercase when used generically or when the person no longer holds the position; uppercase when referring to a specific minister.
Labor education ministers have agreed to new guidelines for private school funding.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, addressed the conference in Mandarin.
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser said…
Governor and governor-general
Lowercase when used generically; uppercase when referring to a specific governor.
State governors will meet the Queen in September.
Australia's Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, opened the new building.
the head of the School of Asian Languages and Studies
Monash style is to use sentence case for all headings across our digital and print publications. Sentence case is when the first word and any proper nouns begin with a capital letter, but everything else is in lower case.
Our rankings and reputation
Working at Monash
Preparing for university
Note that the titles of our publications – digital and print – usually take heading case.
Undergraduate Course Guide
Spell with a capital when referring to Australia's Indigenous population, but use lowercase when referring to indigenous populations in general.
The indigenous people in Vietnam
Keep 'internet' in lowercase.
Lectures and short seminars
Only capitalise the first letter of the first word for names of special lectures and one-off seminars. Use single quotes.
'A question of media bias?' by Mr Michael Schildberger
'Traditional Thai music' by Associate Professor Udom Aroonratna
Newspapers, journals and periodicals
Use italics and capitalise the full name. Check the masthead to see whether an article (the) is included in the title.
Spell out 'Member of Parliament' on first reference, then use 'MP'.
Mr John Smith is Victoria's newest Member of Parliament. A total of 15 first-time MPs attended the gala.
The use of MP, MLC and other parliamentary titles varies. For information on the correct way to address politicians, check the Parliament of Australia website or the various state government websites.
Capitalise the title.
'The Animal Song'
Musical notes and keys
Capitalise the key (eg A, B, C), but not the mode (ie major or minor).
One of Mozart's best known symphonies is in G minor.
middle C; key of G major; the D triad
Paintings, drawings, sculpture
Capitalise the full name and use Roman in single quotes.
Plays and films
Use italics and capitalise the full name.
The Sound of Music
Uppercase when using the full title; lowercase when using generically.
parliaments of the South Pacific region
When referring to a linked file on Monash.edu, use lowercase. Always indicate if a linked file is a pdf and include the size of the file.
Download the application form (pdf, 15kb).
When referring to PDFs in text, use capitals.
PDFs are useful, but you need to check their accessibility for visually impaired users.
Dr Joe Brown is a reader in the Education faculty.
Room numbers and building names
Lowercase 'building' and 'room' except when proper nouns.
The seminar will be held in room 212 in building 11 at 2pm.
The seminar will be held in room 212 in the Menzies Building at 2pm.
Royal Exhibition Building
Scholarships and awards
Capitalise the full name for scholarships and awards.
Monash University Scholarships for Excellence
In botany and zoology, the name of a genus is capitalised and the species (and sub-species) is not.
Canis lupus familiarisGrevillea involucrata
Use lowercase for the four seasons and semesters. Only capitalise the first letter of the first word and proper nouns for religious and national holidays.
Queen's Birthday long weekend
Melbourne Cup day
Capitalise the full name and use roman in single quotes.
'Video Killed the Radio Star'
States and territories
Use the following shortened forms: NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, WA, Tas, NT, ACT. Don't use full stops. When referring to a particular state without naming it, use lowercase.
The state has the highest per capita murder rate of all seven.
Remember that Monash people may associate SA with South Africa, not South Australia.
Subheadings and subtitles
Only capitalise the first letter of the first word and proper nouns for all levels of subheadings.
The changing face of Australian culture
The first word appearing after a colon or semicolon should be capitalised in subheadings and subtitles.
Sigmund Freud: The early years
Lockdown: Pentridge riots
'Regional habitat model: Structure and initial construction'
Capitalise the full name and use Roman in single quotes.
'The IT Crowd'
'Simone de Beauvoir's Babies'
Titles and positions
Only capitalise the full name when a person's official title is given in full, regardless of whether it is accompanied by his or her name. When the title is shortened, it should be written in lowercase. Don't mix full and shortened titles.
the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell
environment and heritage minister Senator Ian Campbell
The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Penny Wong, met the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Ed Byrne OA.
Many senior roles at Monash are styled with the title followed by the division in brackets. Use capitals.
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Social Inclusion)
Always capitalise titles of the University's executive.
Yesterday, Vice-Chancellor Professor Byrne said…
The Pro Vice-Chancellor said yesterday...
Professors and associate professors take capitals when they are followed by the person's name.
Professor Seth Johns
But a 'fellow' is lowercase.
Professor Seth Jones is a visiting fellow at Monash.
Always use capitals when referring to the present Prime Minister, the present Treasurer, the present Australian monarch, and foreign heads of state.
There was outcry over the Treasurer's budget cuts.
The President of the United States of America warned that… after which the President claimed…
former prime minister Malcolm Fraser
Capitalise the full name.
the Blue Mountains
the Barossa Valley
The proper names of universities, like 'Monash University', should be capitalised. The generic term should be lowercase.
Monash University is a member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australia's leading universities.
If you are using a shortened form of our name, prefer 'Monash'. However, if you do refer to 'the University', capitalise it.
Capitalise when you are referring to cultures with a predominantly Western European background, like Australia and North America.
The Western habit of wearing shoes indoors still hasn't caught on in Japan.
World Wide Web
Use uppercase, but use lowercase for 'the web'. Remember 'the internet' is also lowercase.