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capitalization: institutions

Capitalize the official names of the following:

  • organized churches, religious denominations, sects, orders, and their adherents:
    • the First Baptist Church
    • the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
    • the Salvation Army
    • Buddhism
    • the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits
    • a meeting of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Baha’is
  • educational institutions and school boards:
    • the University of Manitoba
    • Lisgar Collegiate Institute
    • the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • courts of law:
    • the International Court of Justice
    • the Supreme Court of Canada
    • the Quebec Superior Court
  • clubs:
    • the Rotary Club
    • the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
    • the Loyal Order of Moose
    • the Shriners
  • corporations:
    • Canadian Airlines International
    • the Canadian National Railway Company
  • political parties:
    • the New Democratic Party
    • the Liberal Party of Canada
    • the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick
    • the Opposition (official)
  • unions, alliances, associations, etc.:
    • the Ontario Public Service Employees Union
    • the Public Service Alliance of Canada
    • the Canadian Medical Association

Note that the official capitalization is that used by the institution itself.

Administrative subdivisions

The names of administrative subdivisions of these institutions are also capitalized:

  • the Department of Political Science
  • the Toronto Synod


Do not capitalize the plural of common nouns, even when the full titles of the bodies concerned are given:

  • He held degrees from the universities of Saskatchewan and Toronto.
  • Candidates for the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties attended the rally.

Short forms

Do not capitalize generic short forms used in a non-specific sense; preceded by a possessive, demonstrative or other type of adjective; or used adjectivally or in an adjectival form:

  • Our family attended a Baptist church regularly.
  • Every board of education in the province has adjourned for the season.
  • This university is our town’s major employer.
  • She tries to attend all board meetings.
  • Only strict adherence to the party line was tolerated.

But if the short form refers to a specific, unique institution, it retains the upper case when used as a noun or adjectivally:

  • The Scouts held a rally over the weekend.
  • A city-wide Red Cross blood drive replenished the hospital’s supply.

In addition, capitalize short forms that use only the specifying element:

  • This afternoon, Concordia and Western will play in the final.

Corporate writing

A generic noun used as a short form of a title is often capitalized, especially in corporate writing intended for an internal readership:

  • the Institute
  • the Board
  • the Party
  • He worked for the Company for almost forty years.
  • The document was forwarded to the Regional Office.

Second references

In second and subsequent references, short forms may be treated generically and lower cased:

  • He was invited to address the Second Annual Conference on Biotechnology but declined because the conference was not sufficiently broad in scope.
  • She applied for a grant under the External Scholars Program, but only graduate students were eligible under the program.