Skip to main content
× This website has been updated to APA 7 guidelines.

More APA Style Guidelines: Capitalization

Capitalization

Words beginning a sentence:

  • An elephant was in my garage.

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.
  • Smith (1998) compared the action films Killbot and Killbot 2: The Robot of Destruction.

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

Major words in Level 1 and Level 2 headings:

  • See our webpage on headings 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 lb, her doctor insisted that she have a cesarean section.

Trade names:

  • My dog loves Purina Puppy Chow.
  • I could go for a Snickers bar.

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 lb, 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.

The nouns "page" and "paragraph" that precede numerals:

  • My teacher told me to reread page 5 in the fourth chapter.

Generic titles of tests:

  • The students needed to take the vocabulary test.