Capitalisation

The word capital come 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 Italian governments…
  • The New South Wales Government…
  • the governments of the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria agreed to…

Parliament – as with government, parliament is written in lower case except when used as part of a 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 now become a federal responsibility…

Other words requiring capitals:

  • the Budget
  • the Cabinet
  • the Treasury
  • Regulation(s)
  • Bill(s)
  • Act(s)

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

More information about capitalisation can be found in the Style manual, for authors, editors and printers.