Capitalization Rules: Writing About Academic Subjects
  • 2-minute read
  • 4th July 2022

Capitalization Rules: Writing About Academic Subjects

Whether or not you capitalize words can determine the meaning you convey through your writing. While there are several capitalization rules across topics, as a student, you’ll probably often write about academic subjects, so we’ve put together a guide to help you decide when to capitalize subjects.

Common vs. Proper Nouns

Determining whether to capitalize a subject comes down to whether you’re using it as a common or proper noun.

When you’re writing in general terms, academic subjects don’t need capitalization because they’re common nouns, which aren’t specific to any person, place, or thing:

She was really looking forward to taking math next semester because it was her favorite subject.

Are you ready for our engineering test on Friday?

This includes all core academic subjects, like math, science, history, and art, as well as more specialized subjects, like psychology, engineering, education, exercise science, or law.

This rule doesn’t apply to language subjects, which are always capitalized because they’re proper nouns, which refer to a person, place, or thing:

He took a Spanish class to help him when he traveled abroad during the summer break.

She took Conversational French 101 but still couldn’t speak any of the language.

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Similarly, once you start writing about specific courses or degrees, the subjects are capitalized because they’re proper nouns:

She was really looking forward to taking Calculus 1 next semester because math was her favorite subject.

The last class I have to take before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is Statistics in Psychology.

It’s also helpful to know that degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) follow the same rules, as they’re only capitalized when they refer to a specific degree.

Proofreading & Editing

When writing, it helps to think about how specific you want your message to be. As you can see, we only had to capitalize subjects when we specifically identified them.

If you’d like to make sure you’re properly capitalizing words, we have expert editors who can help make sure your writing is clear and error-free! You can learn more by submitting a free trial document.

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