Proper Names

Proper names are always capitalized.

“The” is not part of the University of Tennessee proper name and, thus, is not capitalized other than as may be required at the beginning of a sentence.

The title of a position is capitalized when it precedes the name of the person who holds the position. Titles are not capitalized when they follow names.


  • University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd
  • Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success Linda Martin
  • Stacey Patterson, vice president for research, outreach and economic development
  • University of Tennessee Chief Financial Officer David Miller
  • David Miller, UT chief financial officer

See additional guidance on Proper Names for Offices and Titles

Board of Trustees and Committees

Used as a proper name, Board of Trustees and UT Trustees are capitalized, as are committee names, such as Finance and Administration committee. The word committee is not capitalized.

The following capitalizations are used in reference to titles of members of the board:

  • Trustee Kara Lawson
  • Chair John Compton
  • Audit and Compliance Committee Chair Decosta Jenkins

When not in reference to a specific person, capitalizations are not used:

  • The vice chair called the meeting to order.
  • Each new trustee completes an orientation session.

Buildings and Names of Structures

Proper names of buildings, thoroughfares and monuments are capitalized:

  • the White House
  • the Capitol (when referring to the U.S. Capitol or state Capitol buildings)
  • Andy Holt Tower
  • the Haslam Business Building
  • the Patten House
  • the Tom Elam Library
  • the Student Activities Center

College Names Within the University

Uppercase College when used as part of the proper name of a college; lowercase otherwise.

  • Joe was accepted into the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Academic advisers help students choose appropriate college courses.

Elected Officials and Governing Bodies

Senate, Congress:

Lowercase when used alone:
Most senate incumbents are in favor of the change.

Capitalize when used as the proper name:
U.S. SenateU.S. House of RepresentativesU.S. Congress.

Capitalize when used in reference to a member and his or her title:
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander;U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.

Do not refer to members as nor use as titles “Congressman” or “Congresswoman.”

Tennessee General Assembly:

Capitalize General Assembly, but do not capitalize the informal name, Tennessee legislature.

Capitalize the proper names of the two legislative bodies:
Tennessee SenateTennessee House.

Capitalize a member’s title in reference to a specific individual, but otherwise lowercase:

  • We met newly elected state Sen. Richard Briggs.
  • We met the newly elected state senator.

Titles of Divisions, Departments, Offices and Administrative Areas

On first reference, use the full name of a division, department, office or administrative area, and capitalize all words except prepositions. On second and subsequent reference, when only a partial name is used, lowercase as shown.

  • The Department of Human Resources is conducting the executive search.
  • The human resources department will contact prospective candidates. OR Human resources will contact prospective candidates.

Federal, State

Lowercase: The program is awaiting state and federal funding.

G.I. Bill

Capitalize, periods on G.I., no space; capitalize Bill.


Capitalize in reference to a specific, named campus event:
UT Chattanooga Homecoming 2019.

Lowercase in general use:
Anne looked forward to the family’s homecoming.

Political Parties, Philosophies

Names of national and international political organizations, movements, and alliances and of members of political parties are capitalized, but not the words political party, movement and platform.

Seasons of the Year, Semesters, Holidays

The four seasons are not capitalized.

Semesters are not capitalized: fall semester, spring break, summer session.

Religious holidays are capitalized, as are most secular holidays.

Titles of Works

Capitalize all words except prepositions, unless the author did otherwise or the AP style manual requires otherwise.