Capitalization

Also see the Headlines and titles elaboration.

Acts, Treaties, and Government Programs

Formal or accepted titles of pacts, plans, policies, treaties, acts, programs, or similar documents or agreement are capitalized. Incomplete or generic forms are usually lowercased.

  • the Fifteenth Amendment (to the US Constitution); the Smith Amendment; the amendment
  • the Articles of Confederation
  • the Bill of Rights
  • the Brady law
  • the Constitution of the United States, the United States (or US) Constitution, the Constitution (usually capitalized in reference to the US Constitution), Article VI, the article
  • The Illinois Constitution, the constitution
  • the Declaration of Independence
  • the due process clause
  • the Equal Rights Amendment (usually capitalized though not ratified), ERA, but an equal rights amendment
  • the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, FMLA, the 1993 act
  • Head Start
  • the Mayflower Compact, the compact
  • the Open Door Policy
  • the Social Security Act, Social Security (or, generically, social security)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., 8.79


Ethnic and national groups

Names of ethnic and national groups are capitalized. Adjectives associated with these names are also capitalized. . . . Since adding a hyphen in such terms as “African American” or “Italian American” does not aid comprehension, the hyphen may be omitted.

  • Aborigines, an Aborigine, Aboriginal art
  • African Americans, African American culture
  • American Indians, an American Indian(see note below)
  • Native Americans, Native American poetry (see note below)
  • Asians, an Asian American
  • Caucasians, a Caucasian
  • Hispanics, a Hispanic
  • Lationos, a Latino; a Latina; Latino immigration

but

  • Sino-Tibetan language
  • Anglo-American cooperation
  • Anglo-Americans

Note: Many among those who trace their roots to the aboriginal peoples of the Americas prefer American Indians to Native Americans, and in certain historical works Indians may be more appropriate. Canadians often speak of First Peoples (and of First Nations). (chicago 16, 8.37–8.38, p.401–2)

Note: Rural and tribal are generic terms and do not represent any specific ethnic group.


Holidays and holy days

The names of secular and religious holidays or officially designated days or seasons are capitalized. (chicago 16, 8.88 (in previous editions, days like election day or inauguration day were lower-cased.))

  • All Fool's Day
  • Christmas; Christmas Day; but Christmas holiday
  • Columbus Day
  • Earth Day
  • Easter
  • Election Day
  • the Fourth of July, the Fourth, Independence Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • Labor Day
  • Memorial Day
  • National Poetry Month
  • New Year's Day
  • New Year's Eve
  • Presidents' Day
  • Thanksgiving; Thanksgiving Day; but  Thanksgiving holiday
  • Veterans Day

but

  • D day, a bank holiday


Job titles

Job titles should be capitalized only when used before a person's name:
YouthBuild USA President Dorothy Stoneman addressed the group.

But
Dorothy Stoneman, president of YouthBuild USA, addressed the group.

However, it is customary to capitalize job titles (when accompanied by a company name) when part of a list of names, as in invitations or event programs:

Today’s participants

  • Dorothy Stoneman, President, YouthBuild USA
  • Baxter Taylor, Interim President, Yesterday’s News
  • Zachary Zenith, zoologist


Also see the Headlines and titles elaboration.