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Thread: Grammar nerds, I need your help!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default Grammar nerds, I need your help!

    I'm writing up a psychological case-study and it needs to be PERFECT. I can't figure out when it is appropriate to use capitalisation - can anyone give me some rules to follow as to when something needs a capital letter? I get that if it's a proper-noun such as a name it should be capitalised, but is the title of a profession a proper-noun? Or what about the name of a type of service or a diagnostic category???

    Examples are...

    " ... diagnosis was given by a psychologist, speech pathologist and paediatrician." (Do the names of the professions need capitals? Does it make a difference if I'm referring to the profession in general or to a specific professional?)

    "... and was referred for therapy at an early intervention service" (or is it Early Intervention?)

    Does "autism spectrum disorder" get capitals? Does it depend on the context?

    Oh SO confused!


  2. #2


    The job titles are caps. . Not sure about early intervention service and autism spectrum disorder

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    In Paradise


    I say the whole lot is capitals

    The professions -
    And I think with the autism part - the First instance should be capitals but referring to it again doesnt have to be... for example

    I am seeking an Early Intervention Program for my son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. We believe the early intervention program will help him to ......

    hope that helps

    also the same with Autism,

    Use capitals in the first instance of referral

    Thats what I do
    I was a journalist
    but im not sure whether i do that because it makes sense to me or because it is right Best of Luck

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    Thanks ladies. M2R, I've never heard of doing it that way before. I do have a minor in english lit., so you'd think I'd know... but I'm not even sure whether the aforementioned should actually be English Lit.!!

  5. #5


    If you're unsure maybe check references in your textbook if you have one. I'm not sure if some of them are referring to actual disorders or the general group of the lot. I think it'd depend if you were saying there is a range of services or whether it's a service within the group IYKWIN

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Dandy Ranges ;)


    Oh this is good - there are a few really good style guides around to follow. Is this for Uni or government? Either way, google "style guide" and the name of where you're doing it.

    This is very similar to the style guide we developed for work: and it meets all ISO 9001 requirements. (which is why we were developing it).

    Taken from the style guide:
    Capital letters
    Use capitals sparingly. Capitals should be used for:
    • personal names
    • names of nationalities and peoples
    • names of organisations eg the Department of Local Government
    • formal titles of officers eg the Prime Minister of Australia, the Mayor
    • modes of address eg Minister Brown, Her Majesty
    • countries and states/provinces
    • place, area, topographical and street names eg the Snowy Mountains
    • names of public buildings eg Town Hall
    Acts of Parliament
    • religious faiths
    • trade marks and brand names
    • holidays, ceremonies, days of the week and months of the year
    • titles of publications (eg books), formal documents (eg the Treaty of Waitangi) and
    events (eg National Investigations Symposium).
    Do not use capitals for:
    • the office, this office, our office, etc when referring to the Ombudsman’s office
    • the word ‘report’ unless it is in a full proper title
    • the university/department/council etc or an agency’s branches, units or committees
    • the names of each of this office’s teams (eg the general team)
    • ordinary titles of officers eg general manager, police officer, councillor
    • the names of policies eg the code of conduct.

    For proper names, you may be able to use capitals the first time the name is used and
    afterwards use minimal capitals eg:
    NSW Government the government
    NSW Police the police
    Parramatta Council the council
    Department for Women the department
    Aboriginal Complaints Unit the ACU or the unit
    Special Management Branch the SMB or the branch
    Youth Liaison Officer the YLO
    However, we have decided to keep capitals for special titles of office even when the full title is
    not used:
    NSW Parliament the Parliament
    NSW Premier the Premier
    Commissioner of Police Police Commissioner
    Do not use FULL CAPITALS for titles, headings or blocks of text as they are difficult to read
    and dominating.
    When a word or an expression (such as a brand name) needs to be in full capitals in a text, use

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    Thanks Kazbah. I googled our registration body (that I am submitting this to) and "style guide" but nothing came up. I did find this though:
    (Still don't get how to do the quote thingy)

    Capitals are used sparingly. The generic use of a term is not capitalised, but when it forms part of a title it takes a capital letter:

    Master of Architecture / a master's degree can be taken
    Professor Peter Wright / Peter Wright is a professor of English
    Crime Research Centre / the centre opened in 2005

    When referring to our own University in short and in full, the word 'University' is capitalised:
    The University of Western Australia is considered one of the top universities in Australia. The University continues to rate very highly in the Good Universitites Guide.
    When referring to other universities, lower case is used, except as part of its proper title:
    The exhibition will take place at this University, Murdoch University and two overseas universities.

    When referring to UWA faculties, the word 'faculty' is capitalised in both the full title and subsequent occurrences:
    The Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences welcomes new students and encourages them to participate fully in the activities of the Faculty.
    However, the word 'faculty' is not capitalised when referring to the term in general:
    A faculty can choose to expel a student who has cheated.

    For headings within a document, sentence case (with the first word only capitalised) is used except where the name of an entity forms part of the heading:
    Media and advertising expenditure
    Statement of compliance with the Record Keeping Plan

    The subject areas of specific majors and honours degrees are capitalised, as are WA Certificate of Education courses:
    a major in Botany
    honours degree in Molecular Biology
    WACE English

    Schools and discipline groups are always capitalised but not the words 'school' or 'discipline' when used generically:
    the School of Psychology / students should contact their school office
    the discipline of History / staff of the History discipline
    lectures may be given by staff in other disciplines

    I think I get it, but am still a bit unsure about the titles of the professionals in the context of "The diagnosis was given by a paediatrician....". I'm talking about a specific paediatrician but not including his name, and I guess therefore sort of referring to the profession title in general. This is so tricky and my brain is sooooo tired!

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Dandy Ranges ;)


    Without the name, it's a lower case. If you are referring to say, "The Paediatrics Department at Brown Hospital staff advised ... " then it's capitals, but as a generic paediatrician it's a lower case.

    Specific = capital
    Generic = lower case

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Depends on the context, if you are using these as general descriptions of a profession rather than specific job titles (as you are in the sentences above), then lower case is appropriate. If they are used as part of a specific title, (eg: John Smith, Speech Pathologist, Queenland Early Intervention Service), then they should be capitalised. In a research publication Autistic Spectrum Disorder should be capitalised, although it refers to a group of disorders it is a proper noun in of itself. However, it could be abbreviated or written as lower case after the first instance.

    The following would also be correct ...'children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder may benefit from early intervention such as speech pathology and psychology, such as services provided at the 'X' Early Intervention Centre'

    ETA: I really, really should check if the thread has been updated if I go off to feed and change children before posting LOL.
    Last edited by suse; December 11th, 2010 at 05:17 PM.

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