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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 9.1


Although there are many specialized rules for capitalizing letters, the following four are the most common.

  1. Capitalize the first words of sentences, including sentences cited in quotations:

  2. The QA engineer has been quoted as saying, "The main source of connector failure found in the analysis is seal deformation caused by pressures in excess of 1000 psig."

  3. Capitalize proper names, including any particular person, object, place, project, institution, river, vessel, genus, culture, ethnic group, or formal job title:

  4. Project Athena Operation Empty Space
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    the aircraft carrier Kittyhawk Asian-American
    the White Nile Mars
    the University of California at Santa Cruz Air Force One
    Dean for Undergraduate Education Director of Operations

  5. Unless you are following a documentation style that specifies otherwise, capitalize titles of books, periodicals, published and unpublished reports, articles, and document sections:

  6. A Handbook of Chemical Processes

    Journal of the American Chemical Society

    A Report to the President on the Explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger [published report]

    "Report of the O-Ring Seal Design Team" [unpublished report]

    Benefits of Caloric Restriction [section of an article]

  7. Capitalize references to specific figures, tables, chapters, sections, equations:

  8. Chapter Two

    Equation 36

    Figure 10-3

    Appendix C

Rules for Capitalizing Multiple-Word Titles and Proper Names

Unless you are following a documentation style that specifies otherwise, observe the following rules for capitalizing multiple word titles and proper nouns.

General Guidelines for Capitalizing Scientific Terms

Each discipline has its own specific conventions for determining which terms should be capitalized. In general, scientific writing tends to minimize capitalized nouns. The following list summarizes some widely observed practices.

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