Capitals

Do not capitalize whole words or phrases.

Use sentence capital case in headlines and subheads.

Taken from GOV.UK style guide: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/style-guide/a-to-z-of-gov-uk-style

DO NOT USE BLOCK CAPITALS FOR LARGE AMOUNTS OF TEXT AS IT’S QUITE HARD TO READ.

Always use lower case, even in page titles. The exceptions to this are proper nouns, and:

  • departments (specific government departments - see below)
  • the Civil Service, with lower case for ‘the’
  • job titles, ministers’ role titles: Minister for Housing, Home Secretary
  • titles like Mr, Mrs, Dr, the Duke of Cambridge (the duke at second mention); Pope Francis, but the pope
  • Rt Hon (no full stops)
  • buildings
  • place names
  • brand names
  • faculties, departments, institutes and schools
  • names of groups, directorates and organisations: Knowledge and Innovation Group
  • Parliament, the House
  • titles of specific acts or bills: Housing Reform Bill (but use ‘the act’ or ‘the bill’ after the first time you use the full act or bill title)
  • names of specific, named government schemes known to people outside government: Right to Buy, Queen’s Awards for Enterprise
  • specific select committees: Public Administration Select Committee
  • header cells in tables: Annual profits
  • titles of books (and within single quotes), for example, ‘The Study Skills Handbook’
  • World War 1 and World War 2 (note caps and numbers)

Do not capitalise:

  • government - see government
  • minister, never Minister, unless part of a specific job title, like Minister for the Cabinet Office
  • department or ministry - never Department or Ministry, unless referring to a specific one: Ministry of Justice, for example
  • white paper, green paper, command paper, House of Commons paper
  • budget, autumn statement, spring statement, unless referring to and using the full name of a specific statement - for example, “2016 Budget”
  • sections or schedules within specific named acts, regulations or orders
  • director general (no hyphen), deputy director, director, unless in a specific job title
  • group and directorate, unless referring to a specific group or directorate: the Commercial Directorate, for example
  • departmental board, executive board, the board
  • policy themes like sustainable communities, promoting economic growth, local enterprise zones
  • general mention of select committees (but do cap specific ones - see above)
  • the military

Capitals for government departments
Use the following conventions for government departments. A department using an ampersand in its logo image is fine but use ‘and’ when writing in full text.

  • Attorney General’s Office (AGO)
  • Cabinet Office (CO)
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
  • Department for Education (DfE)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
  • Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
  • Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Department for International Trade (DIT)
  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • HM Treasury (HMT)
  • Home Office (HO)
  • Ministry of Defence (MOD)
  • Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
  • Ministry of Justice (MOJ)

Evidence from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/govuk-content-principles-conventions-and-research-background/govuk-content-principles-conventions-and-research-background

‘Look and feel’ and clarity
Capital letters
One of the gradual changes in the ‘look and feel’ of documents, both on paper and online, has been reduction in the use of capital letters. This gives pages an uncluttered feel, as well as supporting informality.

The RNIB guidelines for writing for the web are explicit about capitals:

Capitals used for whole phrases, sentence and paragraphs can be difficult to read for some users (the shapes of the lower case letters are easier to see) and, in the context of online communication, whole words in capitals appear TO BE VERY LOUD, creating the feeling of being shouted at.

Initial capital letters
There has been a gradual move since around the 1970s towards limiting initial capital letters to the first word and proper nouns only for headings and titles. Using initial capitals for all important words in a title looks old fashioned.

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