Skip to main content

Video Transcripts

APA Formatting & Style: Capitalization

Last updated 5/2/2016


Visual: Walden logo at bottom of screen along with notepad and pencil background. Video changes to new slide titled, “Capitalization,” with rules listed:

  • First word of a sentence
  • Major words and words of four letters or more in headings and titles
  • See pages 101-104 in the APA 6th Edition

Audio: Always capitalize the first word of a sentence. That's pretty straight forward and that’s pretty consistent across most publications, even outside of APA style. But one thing that is specific to APA style is when you're talking about a title or a heading in yourself text, this is not in your reference list, this is in your main text, you want to capitalize all the major words and all words of four letters or more in your main title and if you have a Level 1 or 2 heading, so if you have a section or a subsection in your paper, you want to make sure that all the major words of four letters or more are all capitalized. When you get into, like Level 3 and 4 headings, that changes a little bit.


Visual: The following appears on the screen as well:

Proper nouns:

  • Queen Elizabeth à the queen
  • Department of Psychology à psychology course
  • Chapter 2 à these chapters

Audio: Also, proper nouns are capitalized. So if it's somebody's name or the specific name of a place or a thing or an organization, that will be capitalized. One thing you might see in your reading is capitalization for emphasis. And I want to make sure that it's clear that that is not part of APA style. So for example, proper nouns, the job title is capitalized if it precedes the person's name. So, Queen Elizabeth, her title is "Queen." So if you say "Queen Elizabeth," “Queen” would be capitalized. But if you’re just talking about "the queen,” then it would be lower case. The same for other sorts of job titles. So if I were just talking about the president of the company, it would be lower case, but if I was talking about “President Smith,” “President” would be capitalized. And if it’s the specific name of something, like the specific name of a department, so the “Department of Psychology at University of Arizona,” all of the main words would be capitalized. But if I'm just talking about, “the psychology department” or “a psychology course,” that would be lower case.

Other times to remember to capitalize is when you are talking about chapters or sections or things that are in a series, so if you say, Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C, "Appendix" would always be capitalized. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, “Chapter” would always be capitalized. But if you're just talking about “the appendix” or “the chapter,” it would not be capitalized.


Visual: The following appears on the screen as well:

Don’t capitalize models/theories

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Einstein’s theory of relativity

Audio: One thing I really want to mention, because I see this a lot. People are doing it because they are introducing a new idea or they are trying to add emphasis, but you don't need to capitalize the names of theories or models. If the person's name is in it, you would of course still capitalize the person's name, but you don’t need to capitalize the model itself. So “Maslow's hierarchy of needs.” The "h" and the "n" would still be lowercase, even though that's the official name of the theory or model.

So capitalized people's names, capitalized proper nouns, proper names of things, but if it is the name of a theory or model, you don't need to capitalize it.


Visual: Slide changes back to notebook and pencil with Walden logo from intro screen. Text reads “Walden University Writing Center. Questions? E-mail”