Capitalisation

The word capital comes from the Latin word capitula and was used to describe the first word of a chapter in Old English manuscripts.

While in some cases capitalisation is straightforward—always begin a sentence with a capital letter, and use capitals for proper nouns and proper names—in others it can cause confusion, particularly when referring to terms associated with government. Following is a summary of when and when not to use capitalisation in relation to government:

Government – when applied as a formal title it should be capitalised, but appears in lowercase elsewhere, i.e.:
• The Australian Government is mandated to…
• The government declared…
• The Australian and Japanese governments…
• The New South Wales Government…
• The governments of the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria agreed to…

Parliament – as with government, parliament is lower case except when used as part of a full formal title, i.e.:
• Parliament House in Canberra…
• Concerns regarding the Bill were raised in the Victorian Parliament
• …talks continued in parliament…

Commonwealth – when referring to Commonwealth in regards to the Commonwealth of Australia it always appears capitalised. When used in lower case commonwealth has other meanings, so to avoid confusion always use a capital.

Federal – as an adjective it is capitalised only when used as part of an official title, i.e.:
• The Federal Court handed down…
• The federal government policy…
• …the health portfolio will become a federal responsibility…

Other words requiring capitals:
• the Budget
• the Cabinet
• the Treasury
• Regulation(s)
• Bill(s)
• Act(s)

If in doubt always capitalise as part of a formal, full name and use in lower case in abbreviations.

Remember: sentences, proper nouns and proper names should all be capitalised.

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