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. 

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

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’.

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

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.

When to capitalise course names and subjects

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

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

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

When to capitalise degrees

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

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

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:

       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).

       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.

Use capital letters to show qualifications.

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

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.  

When to capitalise directions  

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

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

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.


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.


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

University of Oxford Style Guide. "[PDF File]" Retrieved from

 APA Style Blog. Title Case and Sentence Case Capitalization in APA Style.  Retrieved from

NUFFIC De Nederlandse organisatie voor internationalisering in onderwijs. Retrieved from