Skip to main content

Other APA Guidelines: Capitalization

Capitalization

Words beginning a sentence:

  • The floor caved in.

Major words in titles that are included in the body of the paper:

  • In the book Modern Warfare, Clinger (1998) envisioned a world where ground troops are unnecessary.

This includes all words with four or more letters; all linking verbs; and the first word after a colon.

Major words in Level 1 and Level 2 headings:

  • See our web page on headings, and APA 3.03, for more information.

Proper nouns:

  • Few psychologists were more influential than Freud.

Do not, however, capitalize proper adjectives that have a common meaning as defined by Webster's Collegiate: Because her baby was already 14 lbs, her doctor insisted that she have a cesarean section.

Trade names:

  • My dog loves Purina Puppy Chow.

Names of specific university departments or courses:

  • I enrolled in Scholarly Writing 101
  • Glassner was the associate dean of the Department of Psychology, Iowa State University.

Do not, however, capitalize generic references to courses or departments: I failed my psychology course.

Nouns followed by numerals (see exception for common parts of books or tables, explained below):

  • On Day 2, the rats became more aggressive.
  • I visited my grandmother on Floor 3.

Exact titles of tests:

  • The students needed to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test.

This does not apply to generic titles: The students needed to take the vocabulary test.

Do Not Capitalize

Proper adjectives that have a common meaning as defined by Webster's Collegiate:

  • Because her baby was already 14 lbs, her doctor insisted that she have a cesarean section.

Generic references to courses or departments:

  • I failed my psychology course.

Names of laws, theories, models, hypotheses, effects, or variables:

  • The student was unfamiliar with Gardner's multiple intelligence model.
  • Floyd and Rivers (2003) were influenced by the hierarchy of needs.

Nouns that precede numbers and are common parts of books or tables:

  • My teacher told me to reread page 5 of section 3 in the fourth chapter; it was important that I revisited column 2 in the table.

Note: For Walden doctoral capstone studies, capitalize chapter and section when used with the specific number: Chapter 1, Section 3, and Chapter 5.

Generic titles of tests:

  • The students needed to take the vocabulary test.

Knowledge Check: Capitalization