Capitalizing Units of Time


I am a teacher and we have just completed reports and have undertaken a gruelling proofreading session. A lot of people pulled me up on not capitalizing 'term one' or 'semester one'. Here is the context:


'In term one, Ruby completed an oral presentation that was well prepared and engaging.'


Surely 'term one' and 'term two' are units of time and are definitely not proper nouns.


One fellow colleague even said that 'oral presentation' should have been capitalized. I think this is ridiculous...


Any thoughts?

1 answer


The Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, to name just three major American style guides, all agree -- none of the examples you cite should be capitalized.  In fact, most writers (especially in business writing) err by over-capitalizing.


The rules for capitalization are too lengthy to summarize here -- The Chicago Manual of Style devotes an entire chapter to the topic. In general, however, the universe of properly capitalized words is much smaller than you might imagine.

link edited Jun 27 '12 at 04:33 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Thank you for your reply. I'm relieved that some reputable organizations agree with me! I need to be able to articulate this to my colleagues. I've downloaded the Chicago Manual of Style, but am struggling to put together a reasonable argument to present to them, other than that 'term' and 'semester' and 'oral presentation' are not examples of proper nouns.

lucysoupJun 27 '12 at 05:06

Good answer, Jeff. Lucy, the argument that the words are not proper nouns is not only reasonable but compelling. With any of the style manuals you should have enough proof that one can not randomly capitalize words.

TolleyJun 27 '12 at 14:27

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