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In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. The University of Massachusetts Amherst uses a “down style” of capitalization, in which proper names and adjectives are capitalized, but generic terms, such as universitystreet, and state, are lowercased except when used as part of a formal proper name.

titles of persons

In the down style, the title of a person is capitalized only when that title precedes a name; a title is lowercased when it follows a name or stands alone. Examples:

  • Chancellor Reyes
  • Chancellor and Mrs. Reyes
  • Javier A. Reyes, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • the chancellor

In the most formal, honorific contexts (invitations, event programs) a full “up” style may be used. Examples:

  • Javier A. Reyes, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • the Chancellor

(Such titles as president of the United States, the pope, and the dean of students are not exceptions, regardless of the respect otherwise accorded them.)

majors, fields, and courses of study

Lowercase the names of majors and fields of study unless the name is a proper noun. Examples:

  • Among her friends, Stella counts communications, English, French, and biology majors.
  • The department is looking for candidates with strong backgrounds in chemistry, physics, or mathematics.

course titles

Use capitalization in course titles; do not use italics or quotation marks. Examples:

  • Analytic Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Introduction to Literature

Certain UMass Amherst academic requirements are capitalized by convention. Examples:

  • By the end of his junior year, he had fulfilled all the General Education requirements.
  • This course fulfills the Junior Year Writing Requirement for animal science majors.


Lowercase the names of concentrations unless the name is a proper noun. Example:

  • Students should declare their intention to follow the biotechnology concentration at the end of their sophomore year.


Do not capitalize fall, winter, spring, summer. Example:

  • He took five classes in the fall semester.