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capitalization: chemical and medical terms

Follow the guidelines below in deciding whether to capitalize a chemical or medical term.

Chemical terms

The capitalization of chemical symbols should follow standard practice:

  • C
  • Kr
  • H2O
  • H2O2
  • NaHCO3
  • NiH battery

However, when written in full in text, the names of chemical elements and compounds are not capitalized.

  • carbon
  • krypton
  • water
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • sodium bicarbonate
  • nickel-hydrogen battery

Medical terms

Do not capitalize the names of conditions, syndromes and the like, but capitalize a personal name that forms part of such a term:

  • diabetes insipidus
  • Down syndrome
  • Huntington’s chorea

Capitalize the names of infectious organisms but not the names of conditions based upon such names:

  • People exposed to Salmonella are likely to suffer from salmonellosis.

Do not capitalize the generic names of drugs:

  • phenobarbital
  • sulfasalazine