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Capitalization

Many capitalization issues can be resolved quickly and easily by checking the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. It includes many personal, geographic, and organizational names. However, when it is not clear whether a personal or geographical name or title should be capitalized, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style. The general rules and some examples follow.

People

(a) Capitalize civil, military, religious and professional titles and titles of nobility when they precede and form part of a personal name:

Prime Minister Trudeau

Finance Minister Bill Morneau

Professor Nesmith

Governor General Julie Payette

(b) Lowercase such titles when they follow a name, are used in place of a name, or are used in apposition before a name (i.e., “not alone and as part of the name but as an equivalent to it, usually preceded by the or by a modifier” [CMOS 8.21]):

Bill Morneau, minister of finance

the governor general

the professor Tom Nesmith

former prime minister Mulroney

(c) In biographical sketches of authors and promotional or ceremonial contexts (see CMOS 8.20), capitalize specific/special titles and those placed in apposition to a name, except those denoting a profession (think of the latter as a title that more than one person could have, which could be preceded by an):

Leslie Weir is the Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Wendy Duff, Dean, Faculty of Information

Laura Millar, archival consultant

(as in, an archival consultant, not the only person with this professional title)

(d) Do not capitalize spelled-out titles in the plural or titles preceded by an indefinite article:

The 10 provincial premiers attended the summit.

A member of Parliament representing each of Canada’s major cities will be there.

She is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Information.

(e) Do not capitalize a title modified by a possessive or other type of adjective, or by an indefinite article:

They sent a petition to the Canadian prime minister.

She made her decision known to her director.

We raised our concerns with a member of Parliament from each province.

(f) Capitalize titles only when they refer to a specific person; do not capitalize a term that refers to a role rather than a person:

The general editor of Archivaria makes the final article selection.

Canada’s governor general lives at Rideau Hall.

Instructions will come from the governor general’s office.

However, if using the title to stand in for the name of an individual, then rule (c) applies:

On Wednesday, the Governor General will lay a wreath at the memorial.

The chairperson addressed the shareholders with some bad news.

Government Bodies

(a) Capitalize the full 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:

This brochure was published by the Government of Canada.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the program.

The Archives of Ontario used to be part of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation.

(b) 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:

Our division met to discuss the matter.

The New Brunswick government funded the program.

Adherence to branch policy was cited as the reason.

A committee was struck to investigate the matter.

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

The Harris Government took Ontario to the right of the political spectrum.

The Liberal Government balanced the budget for the first time in decades.

The Archives of Manitoba is the official repository for historical records of the Manitoba government.

Geographic Bodies

(a) Capitalize names of countries, regions, counties, cities, and other geographical entities; capitalize any geographical feature that appears on a map.

(b) Terms used generically are not capitalized.

The Provincial Archives of Alberta is located in the city of Edmonton.

But

As a municipal worker, he gets his paycheque from the City of Edmonton.

(c) For plurals, do not capitalize the generic term unless it comes first:

Many canoes can be seen on Lakes Erie and Ontario during the summer.

The Mackenzie and Fraser rivers both run through British Columbia.

Question within a Sentence

When a direct question is introduced midsentence, capitalize the first word of the question, whether it is introduced by a comma or a colon (see CMOS 6.42).

He posed this question to the study participants: Will the …?

She asked herself, What have I been doing all this time?