Capitalization

Capitalization errors and mistakes can be easy to overlook. See the guidelines below to ensure proper use of capitalization rules when writing for Military Community and Family Policy:

  • For the capitalization of specific terms, see the A – Z Terms section at the end of this guide.
  • If creating or working on a glossary, capitalize the first word of the term being defined only if it is a proper name, for example: child abuseThis refers to any physical injury, sexual maltreatment, emotional maltreatment, deprivation of necessities, lack of supervision or combinations of these actions or omissions toward a child by an individual responsible for the child’s welfare.
  • Do not capitalize “services,” “service member” or “service provider.”
  • Always capitalize the names of the U.S. military services: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, Army Reserves, Marine Corps Reserves and Navy Reserves. Do not capitalize “reserves.”
  • For headings, capitalize all words except articles (unless they are the first or last words in the header or title), prepositions less than four letters long, “to” in infinitives and coordinating conjunctions.
  • Military titles, such as “commander,” are capitalized only when used as part of a title.
  • Directives, instructions or any other name of a regulation should be capitalized only if they are being used to describe a specific regulation. Note: If you are looking for instructions or directives, the Defense Technical Information Center has a comprehensive database. DOD Directive 6400.1 addresses the Family Advocacy Program.
  • Specific programs and services available to service members should be capitalized, but general services should not be: The Family Advocacy Program is one of several advocacy services available to service members on an installation.
  • For a hyphenated word in a heading or composition title, capitalize the first letter of the second word: “The Star-Spangled Banner.” No-Cost Services Available to Military Families. The exception to this is Non-medical Counseling.
  • The order of precedence for the military services (and their respective seals) is:
    • Army
    • Marine Corps
    • Navy
    • Air Force
    • Space Force
    • Coast Guard
    • Army National Guard
    • Army Reserve
    • Navy Reserve
    • Marine Corps Reserve
    • Air National Guard
    • Air Force Reserve
    • Coast Guard Reserve
  • When referring to the National Guard and the reserves together, the National Guard comes first.