When to capitalise certain words


The basic rule is that proper nouns (the name of a specific person, place or thing such as Twente, or Jane) have an initial capital but common nouns (non-specific person, place or thing such as dog, table, girl) do not. Initial capitals are often employed to excess in commercial and administrative circles, but they can be visually distracting and are often unnecessary, so should be used sparingly. When in doubt use lower case.

When to capitalise the terms 'faculty' and 'department' 

Use capitals when referring to specific faculties or departments. 

  • EXAMPLE: the Faculty of Engineering
  • EXAMPLE: The Faculty (specific) includes the Department of Mechanical Engineering (specific).

Use lower case  when referring to faculties or departments in general use:

  • EXAMPLE: There are a number of faculties involved in ongoing research.
  • EXAMPLE: Some faculties are comprised of several departments (general).

When to capitalise the word ‘university’

The term ‘the University’ uses the capital letter U, when referring to ‘the University of Twente’. This is because ‘the University’ refers to an abbreviated form of ‘the University of Twente’.

  • EXAMPLE: the University will be closed on Sunday.  The largest University course is ….

When the word ‘university’ is used in a general way, meaning any university,  the ‘u’ should remain lower case.

  • EXAMPLE: … a university is a place to thrive ... Funding for universities has been cut recently.

The term ‘our university’ does not use a capital letter even though it refers to the University of Twente.  Only use the capital letter when the term takes the place of a name eg. you would not write ‘our University of Twente’.

NOTE: the term ‘our university’ tends to sound informal in English.  A text might more typically refer to ‘the university.

  • EXAMPLE: the University offers many fine extracurricular activities ...  (rather than our university)

When to capitalise course names and subjects

You do not need to capitalise the names of subjects when referring to them in general use.

  • EXAMPLE: While studying economics, she focused on the theories of Adam Smith.
  • EXAMPLE: Many students choose physics and chemistry in their final years of school.

Capitalise the name of a subject when it is used as part of a course title.

  • EXAMPLE: David Edwards studied Biomedical Engineering Technologies at the University of Twente

Capitalise the name of a subject when referring to the faculty or department which teaches it.

  • EXAMPLE: She studied economics in the Faculty of Economics

When to capitalise degrees

Capitalise the type of degree only when referring to a specific qualification or course.

  • EXAMPLE: She finished her Master’s in Psychology 

Do not capitalise the type of degree when referring generally to any qualification at that level.

  • EXAMPLE: We offer many master’s degrees, and many people go on to do doctorates.

NOTE: on UT websites, avoid using the word "programme" or "degree" after "bachelor's" and "master’s"; see Punctuation - Apostrophes.


In English, educational acronyms are written with capitals (e.g. FE, HE, NC, etc.), whereas in Dutch this is done in lower case (e.g. havo, vwo). When referring to the abbreviated terms for the various stages of the Dutch educational system in English, we recommend you use the following formatting in terms of abbreviations, supporting definitions, use of italics, and capitalisation:

  • EXAMPLES (higher education): 

       There are two types of higher education in the Netherlands: research-oriented and profession-oriented:

       Research-oriented education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO) is traditionally offered by research universities.

       Higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO) is offered by universities of applied sciences (hogescholen).

  • EXAMPLES (secondary education):

       Senior general secondary education (HAVO) and pre-university education (VWO)

       HAVO and VWO prepare pupils for higher professional education (HBO) and university studies (WO), respectively.

When to capitalise job titles and qualifications

Use capital letters for job titles.

  • EXAMPLE: Senior Tutor, Admissions Tutor,  Director of Studies and English Teacher 

Use capital letters to show qualifications.

  • EXAMPLE: BSc in Mathematics, Chemistry and History

The following academic titles all get capital letters when they are used as the person's title in a sentence.

  • EXAMPLE: The keynote speaker was Professor Higgins from Oxford University.
  • EXAMPLE: The keynote speaker was Mr Right from Oxford University.
  • EXAMPLE: The keynote speaker was Dr Spock from Oxford University.
  • EXAMPLE: The keynote speaker was Ms Winfrey from Oxford University.

Note that the full stops in the examples above are not needed after the initials (that's a style choice not a prescriptive rule). 

 You may also see these academic titles (above) used in sentences without a capital letter if the writer is using the term as a job description rather than the person's title.  

  •  EXAMPLE: The keynote speaker is a professor from Oxford. 

When to capitalise directions  

Use capital letters to show the points on a compass (north, south) only if they are part of a title.

  • EXAMPLE: North Enschede, Eastern Europe, North Yorkshire 

Do not use capital letters for compass points when they are used as part of general descriptions.

  • EXAMPLE: in the south of Australia, western Canada, southern Scotland.

How to capitalise different 'levels' of headings in your text


Typically, a text such as a policy document, or report, will have different levels of headings. The APA Style Guide refers to heading levels 1-5. Heading levels 1 and 2 should be capitalised using 'Title case' (more about this below). Heading levels 3-5 should be capitalised using 'Sentence case' (below):


Directions for implementing APA’s title case

  1. Capitalise the first word of the title/heading and of any subtitle/subheading;
  2. Capitalise all “major” words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns) in the title/heading, including the second part of hyphenated major words EXAMPLE: Self-Report  AVOID: Self-report; 
  3. Capitalise all words of four letters or more.

This means using lowercase only for “minor” words of three letters or fewer, namely, for conjunctions (words like andornor, and but), articles (the words aan, and the), and prepositions (words like asatbyforinofonper, and to), as long as they aren’t the first word in a title or subtitle.

  • EXAMPLE: The University of Twente Language Policy   


Directions for implementing APA’s 'sentence case'

  1. Capitalise the first word of the title/heading and of any subtitle/subheading;
  2. Capitalise any proper nouns and certain other types of words; and 
  3. Use lowercase for everything else.
  • EXAMPLE: Teachers from surrounding schools learn how Twente really works 


European Commission English Style Guide - A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission Eighth edition: January 2016 Last updated: May 2018 "[PDF File]" Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/styleguide_english_dgt_en.pdf

University of Oxford Style Guide. "[PDF File]" Retrieved from https://www.ox.ac.uk/public-affairs/style-guide?wssl=

 APA Style Blog. Title Case and Sentence Case Capitalization in APA Style.  Retrieved from  https://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/03/title-case-and-sentence-case-capitalization-in-apa-style.html

NUFFIC De Nederlandse organisatie voor internationalisering in onderwijs. Retrieved from https://www.nuffic.nl/en/subjects/education-in-the-netherlands/#