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Capitalization: Avoid unnecessary capitalization. Follow Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition (

Accession Numbers

Do not capitalize accession number, and use the abbreviation no. instead of number when a specific number is provided.

GenBank accession numbers were recorded.

The isolate was deposited into GenBank under accession no. AA00000.

Other Capitalization Preferences

African American

AM, PM, BCE, CE: format in small caps

Arctic (when referring to region), arctic when referring to cold temperature. American

Heritage says “arctic or Arctic fox”; “arctic or Arctic tern,” in that order.

Biosafety Level. Abbreviate with hyphen (e.g., BSL-2).

Black (when referring to persons)

California encephalitis virus

chikungunya virus

ClustalW, ClustalX

Eastern equine encephalomyelitis

Ebola (named after the Ebola River in Zaire)



Guinea worm disease

Gulf Coast


Legionnaires’ disease


o’nyong-nyong virus

Pacific Coast


Sin Nombre virus

Southeast Asia

Saint Louis encephalitis virus



the Gambia

the Netherlands

The Hague

Gram stain, gram-negative, gram-positive

Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus


West Africa

Western equine encephalomyelitis virus

Western Hemisphere

Western blot

White (when referring to persons)


Specific Designations

Do not capitalize words used as specific designations (case, group, series, patient), unless they begin a sentence or are part of a title or heading.

Trade names should generally be capitalized. Do not use ™ or ® with trade names.

Most words derived from proper nouns are not capitalized. Follow the Chicago Manual of Style (, except that black and white should be capitalized when referring to persons (e.g., Black case-patients, White persons).

Do not capitalize titles, such as chairman, president, professor, or director unless the term directly precedes a name (e.g., Professor Smith).

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Titles and Headings

Capitalize the first letter of all words except articles, coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions (regardless of length).

Never capitalize “to” in a title or a heading, either as a preposition or infinitive.

Lowercase “that” as a subordinating conjunction but capitalize as a relative pronoun.

Evidence that Penicillin-Resistant Strains Are Common

Strains That Are Resistant to Penicillin

Capitalize the second word in hyphenated terms ending in acquired, associated, resistant, susceptible, sensitive, related, and similar words.

Penicillin-Resistant Gonorrhea

Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus

Bite-associated Infection

Community-acquired Infection

Capitalize hyphenated or dashed words of equal weight.

Case–Control Study

Human–Animal Interactions

Cat-Scratch Disease, Rat-Bite Fever

If a word in a title (or other word that would ordinarily be capitalized, as at the beginning of a sentence or the first word in a table cell) begins with a lowercase Greek letter, capitalize the first non-Greek letter after it.

β-Lactamase–Inhibitor Combinations

Titles of books and journals are neither italicized nor placed within quotation marks.

Lowercase specific epithets in the scientific names of organisms in titles as you would in running text: Escherichia coli.

If a symbol begins a heading (e.g., column heading in table), capitalize the next word.

% Infected

% Patients

Lowercase all letters in email addresses. Lowercase all letters in URLs unless necessary for the URL to work properly (e.g., PDF file names).

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Page created: February 04, 2010
Page updated: March 31, 2014
Page reviewed: March 31, 2014
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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