In addition to the first word in a sentence, the following are generally the only words which should be capitalized.

Proper nouns—a specific individual name: Kalamazoo.

Proper adjectives—an adjective derived from a proper noun: Romance languages (derived from the proper noun Roman).

Common nouns only when used as part of a specific name: Kanley Chapel, Waldo Library (otherwise lowercase chapel, library).

Common adjectives only when used as part of a specific name: Brown and Gold Room (otherwise lowercase brown and gold).

University exceptions

The following are the only common nouns which should be capitalized in publications and correspondence of Western Michigan University.

Alumni Association—Capitalize only when it refers to the WMU Alumni Association.

Board of Trustees—Capitalize only when it refers to the WMU Board of Trustees.

University—Capitalize only when it refers exclusively to Western Michigan University.


Used in text—In text, titles are capitalized only if they precede the name of the individual. A title following the name of an individual or a title by itself is not capitalized.

Capitalize: ...President Edward Montgomery spoke at the...

Do not capitalize: ...Edward Montgomery, president, spoke at the... The president spoke at the...

In text, it is preferable for the title to follow the name and, therefore, the title would not be capitalized. This is especially true of titles consisting of more than one word. For example, it is acceptable to use either "President Edward Montgomery" or "Edward Montgomery, president." However, "John Doe, director of alumni services," should be used in text rather than "Director of Alumni Services John Doe."

Some words identifying occupations or professions are pseudo titles and should not be capitalized even if they precede the name. Do not capitalize "attorney Jane Doe" or "pianist John Doe."

Titles are not capitalized when used in conjunction with the name of an office, department or program. Do not capitalize the title in "Jane Doe, dean of the College of Fine Arts" or "Jane Doe, College of Fine Arts dean."

Used in a list—When used in a directory listing or other similar situations, the title is capitalized whether it precedes the name, follows the name, or appears in tabular form.

Used in an address—When used as part of an address, the title is capitalized, whether it appears in text or block address form. See addresses.

Examples: For more information, contact John Doe, Director of Alumni Relations, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49008-5404 USA.

For more information
John Doe
Director of Alumni Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5404 USA

Offices and departments

The names of offices and departments at WMU are capitalized only when the full, official name is used.


  • Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • School of Music
  • College of Health and Human Services
  • Division of Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Light Center for Chinese Studies

Do not capitalize

  • provost’s office, academic affairs, the office
  • biological sciences, the department
  • the school, music school
  • health and human services, the college
  • intercollegiate athletics, athletics, the division
  • the center, the institute

Some names of offices, departments, scholarships or programs contain proper nouns and are always capitalized when the proper noun is included. The full name of the alumni center is the Harold A. and Beulah J. McKee Alumni Center. You should also capitalize McKee Alumni Center, because it contains the proper noun McKee. However, alumni center, by itself, is not capitalized.

Majors, academic programs and degrees

Except for languages, such as English, French and Japanese, the names of academic disciplines, majors, minors, programs and courses of study are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized. Example: She majored in integrated supply management and German.

Academic degrees are capitalized only when the full name of the degree is used, such as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Social Work. General references, such as bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, are not capitalized. Use an apostrophe (possessive) with bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, but not in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Do not use an apostrophe with associate degree or doctoral degree. Do not capitalize the major specialty.

Examples (all correct)

  • Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences, M.S. in computer science, B.A. in English
  • integrated supply management program, English program
  • Bachelor of Science in mathematics, Bachelor of Arts in English
  • bachelor's degree in business administration, master's degree in English, doctoral degree in chemistry, doctorate in chemistry

Special programs

The word "program" is part of relatively few official names at the University. The word program is not capitalized simply because it is preceded by a proper noun. Example: Medallion Scholarship program.

Salutation for form letters

Form letters are addressed to groups. The salutation should, therefore, be plural. Capitalize key words, lower case articles and conjunctions, and end with a colon. Example: "Dear Parents and Family Members:"

Do not capitalize

  • administration, the administration, administrator
  • alumna, alumnus, alumnae, alumni
  • board, the board
  • chair, the chair
  • committee, the committee, our committee
  • college, the college, our college
  • department, the department, our department
  • director, directors, the directors
  • emerita, emeritus, emeritae, emeriti
  • faculty, faculty member(s), member(s) of the faculty
  • student, students, student body
  • trustee, trustees, the trustees