Capitalize proper nouns in APA Style.

  • Proper nouns include the specific names of people, places, and things.
  • Names of racial and ethnic groups are treated as proper nouns, which means they are capitalized (e.g., African American, Asian American, Black, European American, First Nations, Hispanic, Native American, Latinx, White).
  • Capitalize trade names (e.g., brand names of medications). However, do not capitalize general names or generic brands. Likewise, capitalize a job title or position when the title precedes a name, but not when the title is used alone or after a name.

The following examples illustrate these capitalization principles in action. For more information and examples, see the Publication Manual.

Proper nouns and the capitalization of job titles and positions are covered in Sections 6.14 and 6.15 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition


Do not capitalize

University of Florida

a university

Science of Nursing Practice

a nursing course

Department of Psychology, Department of English

a psychology department, an English department

Prozac, Humalog

fluoxetine, insulin lispro

President Washington

president, vice president, chief executive officer, executive director, manager

Dr. Iyengar

psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, social worker

Dr. Kellogg

physician, doctor

Nurse Freeman

nurse, registered nurse, advanced practice nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant

From the APA Style blog

APA Style Blog post: How to capitalize medication names

How to capitalize medication names

This blog post provides information on the APA Style capitalization guidelines for writing about medications.

Why titles have sentence case capitalization in APA Style references

Why titles have sentence case capitalization in APA Style references

Why are article titles and book titles in APA Style references in sentence case? The answer takes us back to the 1929 origins of APA Style and a guideline that continues to have practical advantages today.

Last updated: July 2022Date created: September 2019