Public Works and Government Services Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Institutional Links

 
Search

4.05 Governments and government bodies

(a) Capitalize the titles of international, national, provincial, state, regional and local governments; the titles of government departments and agencies and their organizational subdivisions; the names of boards, committees and royal commissions; and the Crown when it means the supreme governing authority:

  • the United Nations
  • the Government of Canada
  • the Parliament of Canada
  • the House of Commons
  • the Senate of Canada
  • the Public Service Commission
  • the Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • the Public Affairs Section
  • the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee
  • the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences

Note that both the legal title and the applied title of a federal department are capitalized:

  • Department of the Environment
  • Environment Canada

(b) It is in the use of short forms that the greatest uncertainty arises. Short forms are normally written in lower case when used in a non-specific sense, when preceded by a possessive, demonstrative or other type of adjective, and when used adjectivally or in an adjectival form:

  • We have formed a committee to study the matter.
  • Our section held its monthly meeting yesterday.
  • This division has 60 employees.
  • The Canadian (federal, provincial, present) government has issued a policy statement.
  • An interpretation of the departmental rules and regulations is required.
  • The question of parliamentary procedure was raised.
  • Unfortunately division practice proscribes such an approach.
  • The decision was based on government (governmental) policy.

However, when short forms of government bodies stand for the full title and are intended to carry its full force, they are usually capitalized. This style is almost always used in in-house documents:

  • The Government has adjourned for the summer.
  • The Minister’s message was circulated throughout the Department.

If the short title is a specific term which the organization shares with no other body within the government concerned, that title retains the upper case when used adjectivally:

  • the question of Senate reform
  • some House committees

(c) The word Government is capitalized when it refers to the political apparatus of a party in power. It is lower-cased when it refers in a general way to the offices and agencies that carry out the functions of governing:

  • The Liberal Government introduced this measure.
  • It is government policy not to discuss matters before the courts.

(d) Do not capitalize the plural forms of government, department, division, etc., even when the full titles of the bodies concerned are given:

  • Representatives from the departments of Finance, National Defence and Natural Resources were present.