Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive (capitalization)

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Capitalization of celestial bodies

There's no consistency in Wikipedia in the use of capitalization for sun, earth, and moon.

University of Minnesota says:

Do not capitalize the words sun and moon.
Do not capitalize the word earth unless it is used without the definite article in connection with the names of other planets.
The earth rotates on its axis.
Mercury is the planet closest to the sun, followed by Venus and Earth.

Webster says:

Do not, however, capitalize earth, moon, sun, except when those names appear in a context in which other (capitalized) celestial bodies are mentioned. "I like it here on earth," but "It is further from Earth to Mars than it is from Mercury to the Sun.

The United States Government Printing Office Style Manual 2000 says:

Capitalize the names of the celestial bodies Sun and Moon, as well as the planets Earth, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
but the moons of Jupiter

My personal style has always been closer to the USGPO. I feel that when used as a proper noun in an astronomical context, a celestial body should be capitalized.

The Sun is a main sequence star, with a spectral class of G2. (astronomical context)
It was a lovely day and the sun was warm. (non-scientific context)
The Moon orbits the Earth. (proper nouns)
Phobos is one of the two moons of Mars. (moon as a conventional noun)

Finding no rule in the style guide, however, I thought I'd submit the matter for discussion. Satori 18:44, Aug 29, 2004 (UTC)

This style seems best (to me, that is ;-)) - though how on Earth we are to decide whether certain phrases are really referring to the celestial object (like that last phrase) beats me...
James F. (talk) 01:27, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree with Satori. In James F.'s example -- a good choice of a borderline case -- I'd consider either form acceptable. JamesMLane 11:43, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I would say that in James F.'s example, it should definitely be earth. Gadykozma 13:05, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Looks good, makes sense. ··gracefool | 19:48, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I think that the USGPO is how most people would describe their usage. The Minnesota usage is just plain wrong: there are times when Sun *must* be capitalised. The USGPO usage seems most sensible. I wonder if any British authorities say differently... Wooster 19:59, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
It seems there is a consensus, so I wrote up some language to add to the Capitalization section of the MoS at User:Satori/Celestial Capitalization. Without objection, I'll add that language to the manual in a day or two. Satori 23:24, Sep 15, 2004 (UTC)

Capitalization of computer terms

The computer industry includes lots of seemingly-gratuitous capitalization. See Fibre Channel and Operating System, for example. Clearly Fibre Channel, being a proper noun (it's a specific protocol), can be capitalized just like Brooklyn Bridge, and it is ALWAYS capitalized in industry publications. But Operating System (and Host Bus Adapter and Storage Area Network) are not proper nouns. In fact, it seems that the only reason they are ever capitalized is because there are commonly-used abbreviations for them (OS, HBA, and SAN respectively) which are always (annoyingly) spelled out. But hey, if that's the standard then that's the standard. So I believe that we at Wiki should capitalize them. Otherwise, we're just swimming upstream. Opinions?--SFoskett 19:26, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)

I observe standard English grammar. Though I sometimes feel like a salmon Salmon swimming upstream. Mackerm 19:49, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Use standard English. All industries overcapitalize in publications whose audience is members of that industry. Outside that industry and in publications who have a general audience (such as an encyclopedia) those same terms are not capitalized. That is what we should continue to do. --mav 20:41, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
That being said, words like Internet and Web (for World Wide Web) are proper nouns, and should be capitalized accordingly. Wikipedia style also prescribes capitalization of compound words derived from proper nouns, but words like webmaster generally go uncapitalized per the predominant professional style guides. Something to bear in mind. Austin Hair 22:27, Sep 1, 2004 (UTC)
Just to split the hair even finer - according to my boss - "internet" (with a lowercase i) can refer to pretty much any TCP/IP network, whereas "Internet" (with a capital I) refers to the Internet-at-large. →Raul654 01:39, Sep 2, 2004 (UTC)
Well, AIUI, the term "internet" is a contraction of "international [computer] network", so any WAN for sufficiently large values of "W" would be so, yes. But most people, when refering to an internet, will in fact be refering to a part of the Internet (there being relatively few black internets, I'd imagine).
James F. (talk) 01:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I believe the term was based on interconnected network rather than international. I've heard a distinction similar to the one Raul points out, but that the small "i" internet is for a network based on other than the TCP/IP. See [1] for a variety of definitions. olderwiser 02:15, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Actually, web is now a noun, not a proper noun - at least, according to increasing numbers of magazines etc (eg. Wired). I'm confident that within ten years or so, almost everyone will use a small "w". ··gracefool | 12:58, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
There's no "actually" about it, in fact; both views are perfectly legitimate, though my support is behind the convention used by most style guides and the inventor of the Web himself. (And just to fuel this week's other major style war, I'll point out that he calls WWW an "acronym.") Austin Hair 19:55, Sep 5, 2004 (UTC)

So what's the decision? I guess we're still discussing, but eventually we will have to reach concensus on this and add it to the manual of style. Another area with Seemingly Gratuitous Capitalization is the automotive industry, where terms like Variable Valve Timing and Dual Overhead Cam are often capitalized, even when they are used in a general sense instead of proper nouns. Actually, these are good examples, too, since both ARE proper nouns sometimes - Toyota has a specific technology calles "VVT" and Ford made an engine named the "DOHC".

So how about this:

Capitalization of Industry Jargon - Industry-specific terms that have commonly-used initialisms but are not proper nouns are often over-capitalized within their industries. Examples include Wide Area Network (WAN) and Variable Valve Timing (VVT). Wikipedia will use standard English grammar rules and will not capitalize words that are not proper nouns. Keep in mind, though, that some jargon, like Fibre Channel and Variable Intake Control System are proper nouns and should remain capitalized wherever they are used.
Looks good. ··gracefool | 04:59, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Capitalisation of 'I' in Internet and 'W' on World Wide Web

Not sure if we might need a bot if we choose to go the way of Wired Magazine and The Guardian. Have a look at this BBC story then our article Internet. Personally I'm all for de-capitalisation. --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 02:33, Sep 2, 2004 (UTC)

The fact that "Wired" made a style choice (and in its justification doesn't even recognize that the reason Internet is capitalized is because it's a proper noun) needn't dictate our style choice. Newspapers, magazines, and websites often make peculiar style choices: as Wikipedia aspires to be an encyclopedia, not a news purveyor, our style choices should reflect prevailing styles used in publishing books, not newspapers. As yet, such style guides uniformly recommend Internet. Not until they change should we. - Nunh-huh 02:42, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Comment posted by anonymous user

"It's ugly. Internet and WWW are not proper nouns. The internet, and the world wide web should not be capitalized. It's distracting and unnecessary."

[NB: This user also scattered vandalism throughout this page, which I rolled back. It was only later I realised he or she had also made a valid comment, and restored the edit. Sorry for any inconvenience - Mark 05:40, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)]

Coincidentally(?), this topic had just come up on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#Capitalization of computer terms. World Wide Web is certainly a proper noun phrase, unless you can demonstrate that another one exists and goes generically by that name; the same goes for Internet in all cases where you're referring to the Internet. You needn't take my word for it, of course, though you should that of Tim Berners-Lee and the Chicago Manual of Style. Austin Hair 05:29, Sep 2, 2004 (UTC)
Don't you mean "This Topic"? You are talking about a particular topic, right? anthony (see warning) 12:56, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
No. The word "topic" was not coined to describe this discussion thread, and is not a proper noun. You yourself even quoted my use of the adjective this—an unequivocal indication, in the absence of an article, that the noun in question is a generic one. Austin Hair 00:10, Sep 3, 2004 (UTC)
The word "internet" was not coined to describe any particular internet, either. It's a descriptive term, just like telephone network (or even telephone itself). anthony (see warning) 16:49, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

So is the "Atmosphere" a proper noun that should be capitalized as well? I'm neutral on this issue, for now, but if given enough evidence that using lowercase is widely accepted as the standard I'd be willing to accept that standard. anthony (see warning) 12:51, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

There's a distinction between the Internet and an internet (see note on Internet). Using a capital for the Internet is very unambiguous - and is consistent with general usage. So I believe actually, that the Internet is a proper noun, while "internet" is not. The World Wide Web is a more academic question, as usually WWW is used (which being an acronym, should use capitals). Interestingly, WWW an unusual acronym in that it is longer to say out loud than World Wide Web. zoney talk 12:55, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
But if you read the article, it mentions that the same distinction can be made in other cases, such as the Atmosphere vs. an atmosphere, but this is nearly universally ignored. With World Wide Web it's much more clear, as this is more obviously a name, not a description. But then, with Web, it's less clear again. The Internet is more of a description, similar to the Telephone Network, which I would assume is usually not capitalized even when referring to the specific one encompassing most of the globe. Another factor is that the knowledge of which internet is being talked about is really based on context. It is in many ways similar to saying "Let's go to the ocean" (not "the Ocean"), even though you know you're really about a specific ocean. anthony (see warning) 13:05, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Atmosphere in the specific sense, is not being used as a proper noun. It's not much more than the difference between "the" and "an". It's not really a relevant example to the discussion (not remotely similar to the difference between earth and the Earth, an internet and the Internet) and probably shouldn't have been included. The example sentence is simply leaving out the "taken for granted" word of "Earth's" (the Earth's atmosphere exerts a pressure). In this case, the Internet is a specific network. Someone could come up with an alternate internet and call it Globelink. To talk about "the internet" is just incorrect - our article on the Internet is quite right to point out the difference immediately with a dab. zoney talk 13:15, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I don't see the distinction. Saying "the Internet" just leaves out the taken for granted phrase "that most of the world is connected to." Or should I be saying "that most of the World is connected to?" Internet is a description more than a name, it just happens to be a description of something which most of the world currently uses only one of. Going back to my other example which is probably more applicable, should we be calling it the Telephone Network? anthony (see warning) 13:21, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you're saying about the different between earth and the Earth. According to this source, you should only capitalise earth and sun and moon when used in a list of celestial objects or part of another name. [2] But it's not clear to me whether you're arguing for or against this distinction. Earth, Sun, and Moon, are proper nouns, right? anthony (see warning) 13:29, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
If one is to believe standard histories of the web, internet, as a contraction of interconnected networks, refers generically to any network of interconnected networks. By this version, the big "I" Internet is a specific instance of such interconnected networks (which has grown to such an extent as to have virtually eliminated alternatives). However, I'm not aware that small "i" internet was ever commonly used to refer to any actual alternative networking system. It seems that it is used primarily to make a pedantic, mostly theoretical, distinction, and it may well be that the distinction is purely pedantic and not based in actual (or at least in common) usage. Despite this possibility, I have no problem with treating the Internet like a proper noun since that is currently the most common usage, even though the purported rationale may not have much bearing on reality. olderwiser 13:47, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Planets other than Earth (capitalized, in this context—the enumeration of other planets is implicit) have atmospheres. I'm surprised at you, Anthony—this distinction is one usually learned no later than the fifth grade, and I know for a fact that you're a native speaker. Austin Hair 00:10, Sep 3, 2004 (UTC)
This is a strawman. I know that other planets have atmospheres. That was my point. anthony (see warning) 13:35, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Both the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications and the Chicago Manual of Style give Internet and World Wide Web. Why is this debate even happening? 14:51, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I should point out, the distinction may not be apparent to any non-techies (and even to some techies), but as a qualified Computer Engineer I can tell you that to talk about "the internet" is just wrong! The parent poster is right - this debate should not be happening. The only reason that it is, is due to the idiotic "style" decisions of two media companies. Permit me to say "GRRRRRrrr" (I'm fed up being nice - it's a stupid pointless debate). zoney talk 15:53, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Fair enough - I'm happy to go with the prevailing style manuals. I strongly suspect that decapitalisation will creep in regardless of the rights or wrongs, just through overwhelming common usage of lower case. But I withdraw my I'm all for decapitalisation in light of the arguments above. --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 17:33, Sep 2, 2004 (UTC)
I didn't know they let "qualified Computer Engineers" determine what is right and wrong capitalization. Captialization rules in English are quite arbitrary, and in this situation there isn't a clear right or wrong. All we can go on is common usage, imposing strict rules on the matter is not any more appropriate than imposing a rule that colour is the wrong way to spell color. anthony (see warning) 13:39, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I'm pointing out that the ensuing ambiguity, is from that point of view, appalling - something perhaps not obvious to those judging merely on terms of "style". I will however, refrain from further Grrs, it was a momentary lapse. zoney talk 16:52, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It still looks pants. The Worst Style Decision in the World will haunt Us in The Future, I just know it. Still, The Population of this website seem to want it, so I guess we have to go with The Majority Opinion. Oh Well. 12:04, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

They should be capitalized, because I like seeing them that way. This may well be a transition that's in the process of happening, or it may not be, but I would like to wait until authoritative print sources such as the American Heritage Dictionary decide it has actually happened. Wired is trying to be cool and ahead of the trend. They hope to be tastemakers. The print version of Wired (does it still exist?) had very weird typography and layout, too, which some saw as cool, but was not widely followed by mainstream periodicals. (The alternating use of what I can only call "inverse video" in their page numbers, for example). There's no logical reason for capitalizing anything. This is all a matter of prevailing taste, style, and custom. Print encyclopedias tend to be present a dignified, conservative typographic personality and so should Wikipedia. Which should be capitalized, even though it can easily be understood without it. I will now lose all claim to credibility by noting that I still spell Hallowe'en with an apostrophe, and used to put a dieresis over the second "o" in coöperate, and hyphenating it (co-operate) if I was using a device that lacked a dieresis. [[User:Dpbsmith|Dpbsmith (talk)]] 13:48, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I mostly agree with these comments (except for liking seeing it that way). Right now there is no real standard in this area, so mass decapitalization would be inappropriate. anthony (see warning) 16:47, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Then we should do what we do with US and UK English, consitent within each article, but tollerate diversity within The Encyclopedia. 10:35, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)

This makes sense – how can people debate this when some articles use "colour" and others say "color"? For me, the capitalization is the correct way of doing it (and should be in a -pedia) but the common person writes them without the capitals and, tbh, few know the associated grammatical rules. "Internet" has left the jargon compsci world and has been adopted into popular culture – try referring to anything as an internet without people thinking of the Internet. This is the explanation that should be given in the main Internet article. violet/riga (t) 10:53, 5 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Just a note—The Economist decapitalized the “internet” long before Wired. Personally I'm inclined to follow The Economist blindly down any dark path it charts. T-bomb 02:15, 7 Sep 2004 (UTC)

There are many internets in the world which are not connected to the Internet - and only one Internet. Sentences such as "the internet of intelligence agency <foo> is not connected to the internet", while eventually parseable (albeit allowing of confusion), looks downright ugly if "the Internet" is not a proper noun.
When the people who created internets and the Internet created the terminology (see Internet and Talk:Internet), we very carefully thought all this through, and it's the way it is for a good reason. The BBC guy had it exactly right. The economist, wired et al can take a hike. Noel 00:02, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

So do you really want to say 'my private telephone network is not connected to The Telephone Network that covers most of the rest of The World'? Moooo! 01:44, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

To quote my boss, David Mills - "internet (with a lowercase i) can refer to pretty much any network, whereas Internet (with a capital I) refers to the one and only vast, public Internet" →Raul654 01:49, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
But is there any actual evidence that small "i" internet was ever commonly used to refer to "pretty much any network" (or even to any real network) other than in making a pedantic or theoretical point? olderwiser 01:59, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Easily proven -- google for the term "corporate internet" (which generally refers to internal company networks, not the Internet-at-large). It brings 119,000 hits. →Raul654 02:16, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)
Hmmm, I really don't mean to make such a big deal out of this, but I'm not convinced. If you look at the Google results for the search you suggest, as far as I can tell all of the references are about corporate marketing and presence on the internet rather than the internal use of internet (which I had always heard as intranet as opposed to internet). olderwiser 02:39, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Raul's fond of repeating arguments he doesn't fully comprehend (and dropping names, for that matter). In this sense, an "internet" is the layer of interconnected services bound into a single virtual entity, rather than the transport layer itself (cf. WAN). Corporate intranets (networks with no scope outside the company in question) can also be internets under this definition—which isn't commonly understood in the context of today's technical jargon—but the terms aren't mutually interchangable. Austin Hair 07:34, Sep 8, 2004 (UTC)

Capitalisation of artistic movements

I have reached a conundrum. Every usage guide I consult (including Wikipedia and Chicago) says that artistic, philosophical, and cultural movements are by default to be not capitalised, unless they explicitly refer to, or their name originated from, a proper noun. Yet, I see artistic movements constantly capitalised when this is not the case, e.g. "Realism", "Expressionism", "Impressionism", etc. This seems to be a particular habit among those writing about the visual arts; literary, musical, philosophical movements and so on tend to follow the "rule". Why is this??

Corporate abuse of capitalization

Is there/should there be a guideline for capitalization of corporate names? In the text of certain articles (OpenGL, specifically), I have been changing NVIDIA to Nvidia, as I am a strong believer that we should adhere to the accepted capitalization rules instead of letting corporations hijack them for their own benefit. — Flamurai 07:30, Dec 12, 2004 (UTC)

I don't think there is the specific guideline that you refer to. I agree with you about not letting companies, marketeers, technology types, etc., hijack the language. But I fear we may be fighting the tide. Maurreen 07:50, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)
This is a great article on the subject, if you're interested. Reading it is kind of theraputic. — Flamurai 09:17, Dec 12, 2004 (UTC)
the only guideline as regards corporate names is 3M not 3m nor Three M and EBay not eBay nor Ebay, so I would think it would be NVIDIA and OpenGL as well. The corporations aren't hijacking the language so much as the way we use symbols. (Coca cola is recognisable in any alphabet) etc. Pedant 11:38, 2004 Dec 12 (UTC)
Well, OpenGL makes sense, as it's pronounced "Open Gee El", but "Nvidia" is not pronounced "En Vee Eye Dee Eye Aay". "NVidia" would also be acceptable. — flamuraiº 15:35, Dec 12, 2004 (UTC)
NVIDIA Corporation has specifically asked that the name of their company and brand be capitalized as NVIDIA, not Nvidia, NVidia, nVidia, or any other capitalization. SeanAhern (talk) 13:43, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

I've listed The Slot article as an external link from the CamelCase article. Maurreen 16:54, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I agree. The article on Time magazine (currently at TIME) should be moved. [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality/talk]] 18:58, Dec 12, 2004 (UTC)

Now that I've actually looked again, I see that we do cover this, at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (trademarks). It says:
Follow our usual text formatting and capitalization rules even if the trademark owner encourages special treatment:
avoid: REALTOR
instead, use: Realtor
Trademarks in CamelCase are a judgement call. CamelCase may be used where it reflects general usage and makes the trademark more readable:
OxyContin or Oxycontin - editors choice
Maurreen 19:47, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)


The Chicago Manual of Style says for Names with unusual capitalization:

Parts of names given in full capitals on the letterhead or in the promotional material of particular organizations may be given in upper- and lowercase when referred to in other contexts (e.g., "the Rand Corporation" rather than "the RAND Corporation"). Company names that are spelled without an initial capital (e.g.,, which is not a URL) or with a capital following a lowercase letter (e.g., eBay) should remain thus in text. For obvious reasons, however, a name beginning with a lowercase letter should not begin a sentence: if it must, it should be capitalized.

I wonder if it might not be small-capped: "IBay is a very successful business". That looks right to me. The Cambridge Guide to English Usage under capital letters notes:

Some organizations and businesses go by compound names with a capital letter in the middle, e.g. AusInfo, HarperCollins. The mid-capital is thus part of their trademark or business identity, and it defies the general practice of using a hyphen before a capital letter in mid-word (see hyphens section 1c). The practice is established in personal names such as FitzGerald and McIvor: see under Fitz- and Mac or Mc.

That last seems unassailable. If you spell FitzGerald rather than Fitzgerald, why should you baulk at OxyContin rather than Oxycontin? I'm inclined to change the MoS here using that as an example: "Trademarks in CamelCase only extend what has been accepted style in personal and corporate names like FitzGerald and McDonald's. CamelCase should normally be retained when it reflects general usage and does not hinder readability: OxyContin." That would allow for cases, that I do not forsee but may occur, where for some reason CamelCase did look awkward. From Editing Canadian English (11.58):

If a trademark – registered or unregistered – must be specified, use the owner's preferred style:

Her cold-fighting artillery was on her night table: Extra-Strength Tylenol, a box of Kleenex (the big ones), echinacea, grapefruit juice, and a Harlequin romance.

However, if the owner's style is to use lowercase, all caps, italics, or other graphic flourishes for the mark, a reference in ordinary text may be styled with standard capitalization and type treatment.

When he was 12, he seemed to live on Pop-Tarts [not pop-tarts].

Scrabble [not SCRABBLE] games at Lisa's last all night.

Jallan 03:26, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Hmmm. Interesting stuff. I don't see it as the job of Wikipedia to do company's marketing for them and logos and trademarks are all about marketing. Magazines I have worked for had blanket bans on replicating trademarks and logos (except to avoid confusion). Partly to was for cleaner layout (two firms we wrote about had superscript 2s, because they we a company squared)). But it was also to be seen to be disinterested (c/w NPOV). So no midCaps, no @ signs or superscripts. Just treatment as proper nouns (always initial caps).
In the case of initials, the rule was usually: if it can be pronounced as a word, write it as such (so Start Treaty, Unesco), if it could not then all caps (so BBC, OECD etc). Icundell 10:04, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)