General Rule 

When deciding whether to capitalize a noun or adjective, tend toward lowercase.


For capitalization after colons, see the punctuation page.


For the capitalization of headings, see Headings.

Undisclosed Parties in Cases

Because the words plaintiff, respondent, applicant, etc., are used so often in our texts, they remain lowercase even when referring to a particular person.

The order mandated that the respondent give working notice. 

Political Parties 

the Liberal government
the Bloc, the Bloc québécois, the Conservatives, the Liberals, the New Democrats, Reform
the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, the Reform Party


the administration, the Clinton administration, the US administration
Cabinet, the Cabinet, a Cabinet committee
Congress, congressional
Crown, the Crown, Crown land
the government, the federal government, the provincial government
the House of Commons, the House, the Commons
the legislature, the Ontario legislature
the Legislative Assembly, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
the Opposition (the official Opposition), opposition parties
Parliament, parliamentary
the Prime Minister's Office (the entity, not the room)
the Senate, senatorial
the Speaker (of the House)

Ministries, Departments, and Other Organizations 

the branch
the Carter commission
the Department of Finance, Finance
the department
the division
the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
the ministry
the Royal Commission on Taxation, the royal commission
the Tax Policy Branch


Full and short references to statutes are capitalized; plural and generic references are lowercase. All pinpoint references are lowercase.

Bill 99, the Bill
bills 99 and 100
the Constitution: the Canadian Constitution, the US Constitution
a draft act, a draft bill
the Income Tax Act, the Act, this Act
provincial companies acts
part XIII of the Act; division B of the Act; section 123 of the Act

Parliamentary Procedures 

All references to parliamentary procedures are lowercase.

first reading, second reading, third (or final) reading
notice of ways and means motion
order in council
private member's bill
royal assent
ways and means motion

Courts, Tribunals, and Related Bodies 

the bar of Ontario, the bar
the bar admission course, the bar ads
the Board of Inquiry, the board
the court, the courts
the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court, a Supreme Court ruling
the Provincial Division court
the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, the tribunal

Titles of Office 

Titles of office are capitalized only when they are used in conjunction with proper names. When no proper name is used, titles are lowercase and punctuated according to usual style.

Prime Minister Trudeau, the prime minister
Chief of Police Saunders, the chief of police
Chief Justice McLachlin, the chief justice
Minister of Finance Morneau, the minister of finance
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship McCallum, the minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship
note serial comma

Exception: Queen Elizabeth, the Queen

Government Programs and Taxes 

Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund
the Canada Pension Plan
employment insurance
established programs financing
goods and services tax
harmonized sales tax
manufacturers' sales tax
new experimental experience rating plan
old age security
provincial sales tax
return-to-work plan (but return to work (v.))
Second Injury and Enhancement Fund

Educational Courses and Departments 

Specific references to educational levels, courses, and departments are capitalized; plural and generic references are lowercase.

the Department of Psychology, Seneca College
Sociology 101
introductory psychology course
a sociology department
college faculties of education
grade 9, grade 10, grades 11 and 12

Small Caps 

We no longer use small caps in casebooks.

Book Elements 

References to elements of a book within the book itself are uppercase.

See Figures 1.1 and 1.2 on the following page.
As we saw in Chapter 3, Inadmissibility, ...
This will be reviewed in Part II.

References to elements of another book are lowercase.

Smith's figures 1.1 and 1.2 show the change over time.
As Jones explains in chapter 3 of her text, ...

Generic and Similar Terms 

Generic terms are lowercase. Proper names or proprietary terms that have entered common use are lowercase. The names of notional or prospective things are lowercase.

The courts have considered this question.
To search on Google is to google. They suffered a draconian punishment as a result. To make a copy on a Xerox machine is to xerox.
Canadians in the 1960s dreamed of a charter of rights and freedoms.