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Capitalizing departments and administrative units

Words such as department, division, centre and program are only capitalized when they are part of a formal or informal name. Proper names, titles of programs, names of faculties, colleges and departments may be capitalized in the first reference but can be shortened and put in lower case for subsequent reference.

  • First reference: the Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Subsequent references: the Math Department; the department


Lower case should be used when the context is general, or in the second and subsequent references to a department, college, or body whose full name has already been given.

  • The humanities courses are popular among undergraduate students.
  • All departments must submit their budget projections next week.
  • The Department of History (upper case on first reference) is part of the Faculty of Arts.
  • Grenfell College is located on the West Coast of the province. The college is renowned for its visual arts program.
  • The Board of Regents held its first annual meeting. The board meeting ended at 7 p.m.


In plural usage, when more than one department or division is being described, use lower case for the common noun.

  • The departments of History and Political Science both offer ...