Capitalization—General

In editorial running text, do not capitalize department names or majors unless they include words ordinarily capitalized:

  • He studied history.
  • the history department
  • the English department

For marketing text, such as viewbooks, catalogs, and bulletins, the proper names of schools and colleges, departments, majors, and programs are capitalized for clarity of identification as formal entities or majors.


Capitalize titles preceding a name, but lowercase a title following a name:

  • President Robert A. Brown
  • Robert A. Brown, president
  • Professor of History John Smith; John Smith, professor of history

In general text, do not capitalize “the” before proper names such as “the Campaign for Boston University,” or “the Boston Globe.” Do use an initial capital T when it’s part of a book or album title. See Titles of Works—Capitalization.


In general text, the four seasons are lowercase, including when referencing a given semester or year:

  • winter; spring; summer; fall
  • spring semester
  • fall 2020

On second reference, don’t capitalize the word “school,” “college,” “institute,” “center,” “department,” and similar when referenced alone, even when referring to a specific BU entity.

  • The College of Arts & Sciences welcomed…. The college hosted alumni….

On invitations and posters or in addresses, capitalize such words as “floor” or “room” when listed along with the number:

  • Seventh Floor, Room 701

Capitalize established Boston University events:

  • Alumni Weekend
  • Baccalaureate
  • Boston Marathon (but the marathon)
  • Commencement
  • Global Days of Service
  • Move-In Week
  • Senior Breakfast
  • Senior Brunch

Capitalize the names of all planets and Earth; lowercase “sun” and “moon.” However, Chicago says, in the sense of the planet we live on: “In nontechnical contexts, the word ‘earth’ is usually lowercase when preceded by ‘the’ or in such idioms as ‘down to earth’ or ‘move heaven and earth.’ When used as the proper name of our planet, especially in an astronomy context with other planets, it is capitalized, and ‘the’ is usually omitted.”


Natural phenomena or disasters of historic significance are often capitalized:

  • the Great Plague; the Chicago Fire; Hurricane Katrina

Names of specific ships and other vessels are capitalized and italicized. When USS or HMS precedes the name (not italicized), the word “ship” should not be included (the final “S” stands for “ship”).