See board of directors, board of trustees.


Canada goose
Not Canadian goose.

cancel, canceled, canceling, cancellation

In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Capitalization should not be used for emphasis except as specified below.

  • academic degrees
    Capitalize formal abbreviated degrees: B.A., B.S., M.Ed., Ph.D. Capitalize majors only if a proper noun or part of a noun phrase: Some of the more popular majors at Puget Sound are biology, English, and Asian studies. Capitalize formal names of degrees: Bachelor of Science in chemistry Lowercase spelled-out degrees: bachelor's degree in chemistry. Also, see academic degrees.
  • building names
    Capitalize when the formal name is used; lowercase casual references.
  • cities and towns
    Capitalize in all uses. The preferred form for a city section is lowercase: the west end, northern Los Angeles. But capitalize widely recognized sections of a city: North End (Tacoma), South Side (Chicago).
  • city, town
    Capitalize as part of a proper name: Kansas City. Lowercase elsewhere: a Texas city, the city government, the city board of education, and all city of phrases, such as Tacoma.
  • coast
    Lowercase when referring to the physical shoreline: Atlantic coast, Pacific coast, east coast. Capitalize when referring to regions of the United States lying along such coasts: the Atlantic Coast states, a Gulf Coast city, the West Coast. Do not capitalize when referring to smaller regions: the Virginia coast.
  • committees, departments, offices, services, and programs
    Capitalize when the formal name is used; lowercase casual references: The Sustainability Advisory Committee meets each month. The committee meets each month.
  • compositions (titles)
    Capitalize the principle words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters, in the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc. Capitalize an article - the, a, an - or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title. Italicize all such works except the Bible or books of the Bible, or books that are primarily catalogs of reference material. In addition to catalogs, this category includes almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, handbooks, and similar publications. Also, see lectures, speeches.
  • directions and regions
    In general, lowercase north, south, northeast, northern, etc., indicate compass direction; capitalize when they designate regions.
    • With names of nations
      Lowercase unless they are part of a proper name or are used to designate a politically divided nation: northern France, eastern Canada, western United States. But: Northern Ireland, East Germany, South Korea.
    • With states and cities
      Lowercase compass points only describe a section of a state or city: western Texas, southern Atlanta. But capitalize compass points when part of a proper name: North Dakota, West Virginia, or denoting widely known sections: Southern California, Western Washington, the Northwest. If in doubt, lowercase.
    • Informing proper names
      Capitalize when combining with another common noun to form the name for a region or location: the North Woods, the South Pole, the Far East, the Eastern Shore.
  • government bodies
    Capitalize all specific references to governmental legislative bodies, regardless of whether the nation or state's name is used: the U.S. Senate, the Senate, the Virginia Senate, the state Senate, the Senate. Lowercase plural uses the Virginia and North Carolina senates. Lowercase references to nongovernmental bodies: the student senate at the University of Puget Sound.
  • historical periods and events
    Capitalize names of widely recognized epochs in anthropology, archaeology, geology, and history: the Bronze Age, the Dark Ages, the Boston Tea Party, the Great Depression. Lowercase century: the 18th century.
  • Internet terminology
    Capitalize Internet, World Wide Web, and Web when part of a two-word phrase, such as "Web page," but lowercase intranet, website, and email. For more definitions, see individual entries or Computer terminology.
  • magazine names
    Capitalize and italicize the name, but lowercase "magazine" unless it is part of the publication's formal title: Harper's Magazine, TIME magazine.
  • newspaper names
    Capitalize and italicize. Capitalize the in a newspaper's name if it is part of the publication's proper name: The News Tribune. Lowercase the before newspaper names if a story mentions several papers, some of which use the as part of the name and some do not: the Seattle Times, News Tribune, and New York Times.
  • president
    Capitalize only as a formal title before one or more names: President Thomas, Presidents Bush, and Clinton. Lowercase in all other uses. Also, see Titles, occupational titles.
  • proper nouns, proper names
    • Proper nouns
      Capitalize nouns that identify a specific person, place, or thing: Sarah, Julie, America, Tacoma.
    • Proper names
      Capitalize common nouns such as party, river, street, and west when they are an integral part of the full name for a person, place, or thing: Democratic Party, Mississippi River, Fleet Street, West Virginia. Lowercase these common nouns when they stand alone in subsequent references: the party, the river, the street. Lowercase the common noun elements of names in all plural uses the Democratic and Republican parties, Union and Pacific avenues, lakes Washington and Union. Also, see brand name.
  • seasons
    Lowercase spring, summer, fall, winter, and derivatives such as springtime unless part of a formal name: Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, fall semester, spring play.
  • state
    Lowercase in all "state of" constructions: the state of Washington, the states of Oregon, and Montana. Four states—Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—are legally commonwealths, but the distinction is necessary only for informal uses: Kentucky's commonwealth filed a suit. Otherwise: Tobacco is grown in the state of Kentucky. Also, see capitalization, city, town.
  • titles
    Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name. When used alone or in construction, lowercase formal titles set them off from a name by commas. Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles: University of Puget Sound President Ron Thomas spoke to the city counsel; Ron Thomas, president of the university, spoke to the city counsel.
  • university
    Capitalize when part of an institution's full name: University of Puget Sound, California State University. Lowercase when used by itself, even when referring to the University of Puget Sound: Staff members of the university are eligible for benefits. Also, see university vs. college.


Lowercase, spelling out numbers less than 10: the first century, the 20th century. Hyphenate when a compound modifier: 13th-century literature, seventh-century armor.

Not chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson. Capitalize only as a formal title before a name: company Chair Henry Ford, committee Chair Margaret Thorndill. Also, see Titles, occupational titles.

check box


check-in (v.), check-in (n., adj.)

check out (v.), checkout (n., adj.)

cities and towns
See Capitalization, cities, towns.

See Capitalization, city, town.


clauses; essential, nonessential
The difference between them is that the essential clause cannot be eliminated without changing the meaning of the sentence—it so restricts the meaning of the word or phrase that its absence would lead to a substantially different interpretation of what the author meant. The nonessential clause can be eliminated without altering the basic meaning of the sentence—it does not restrict the meaning so significantly that its absence would radically alter the author's thought.

  • Punctuation
    An essential clause should not be set off from the rest of a sentence by commas. Commas should set off a nonessential clause. Just remember: It is essential that nonessential clauses use commas.
  • Descriptive words
    Do not confuse punctuation rules for nonessential clauses with the correct punctuation when a nonessential word is used as a descriptive adjective. The distinguishing clue often is the lack of an article or pronoun: Barbara and husband Jeffrey went shopping for baby clothes. Barbara and her husband, Jeffrey, went shopping for baby clothes. Also, see that, which and who, whom.

Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives, and verbs that indicate occupation or status: co-author, co-chair, co-host. No hyphen in other combinations: coed, cooperate, coexist, coordination.

See Capitalization, coast.


The most frequent use of a colon is at the end of a sentence to introduce lists, tabulations, texts, etc.

  • capitalization
    Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or start a complete sentence: He promised this: The company will make good all the losses. But: There were three considerations: expense, time, and feasibility.
  • quotation marks
    Colons are placed outside quotation marks unless they are part of the quotation itself.
  • salutation
    In a formal letter, use a colon after the salutation: Dear Mrs. Holland:


  • compound sentences
    Use a comma before the conjunctive word (and, but, yet, nor, or) when two complete (includes a subject and verb) phrases are used to create the sentence; do not use a comma when the second phrase is not complete: They went to the diner, and then they went to class. The restaurant is filled with mothers and children lunching on hamburgers.
  • dates
    When a year is used with both a month and date, set off the year with commas: Dec. 10, 2011, is the last day of the semester. When just a month and year or month an date are used, no comma is necessary: December 2011, Dec. 10.
  • nonessential clauses
    See clauses, essential, nonessential.
  • quotation marks
    Commas are placed within quotation marks.
  • series, serial comma, Oxford comma
    A final comma is used before "and" in a series of three or more: The student was bright, articulate, and athletic. Puget Sound is a serial comma campus; this is a university deviation from AP style.
  • state names
    When used in conjunction with a city name, set off the state name with commas before and after: He was traveling from Nashville, Tenn., to Albuquerque, N.M.
  • with introductory clauses and phrases
    A comma is used to separate an introductory clause or phrase from the main clause: When he is tired of the mad pace of New York, he moved to Dubuque.

    The comma may be omitted after a short introductory phrase, if no ambiguity results: On the plane, she played cards to calm her nerves. Note that a "short introductory phrase" is defined as a phrase of three words or fewer, e.g., "In the meantime," "Last year," "In 2010," etc.


committees, departments, offices, and programs
See Capitalization, committees, departments, offices, and programs.

company name
See brand name and Capitalization, proper nouns, proper names.

complement, compliment
Complement is a noun and a verb denoting completeness of the process of supplementing something: The ship has a complement of 200 sailors and 20 officers. The hat complements her dress. The husband and wife have complementary careers.

Compliment is a noun or verb that denotes praise or courtesy expression: The captain complimented the sailors. She was flattered by the compliments on her outfit. She received complimentary tickets to the show.

See Capitalization, compositions.

compound modifiers
Always hyphenate. When a compound modifier—two or more words that express a single concept—precedes a noun, uses hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb and all adverbs that end in -ly: a first-year student, a full-time job, a 12-year-old girl. Also, see Hyphenation, compound modifiers.

computer and social media terms

  • email (hyphenate with other "e-" terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce, etc.)
  • internet (updated July 2016)
  • intranet
  • home page
  • https://
  • hyperlink
  • log in (v.), login (n.), log on (v.), log off
  • online, offline
  • RAM
  • server
  • smartphone
  • username
  • web, website
  • webcam, webcast, webfeed, webinar, webmaster, webpage
  • web address, web browser
  • Wi-Fi
  • World Wide Web
  • www.

When used in two people, use plural verbs and pronouns: The couple were married Saturday and left Sunday on their honeymoon. In the sense of a single unit, use a singular verb: The couple lives in Seattle.

couple of
The of is necessary. Never use a couple tomatoes or a similar phrase. The phrase takes a plural verb in constructions such as A couple of tomatoes that were stolen.


courtesy titles
Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., Dr. See titles, courtesy titles, religious titles.