Are Roman Numerals Capitalized?

In most situations, Roman numerals are capitalized. This is primarily due to the origin of the numerals. When Roman numerals originated during the Roman empire, all writing was capitalized – there was only one form for each letter and number rather than an uppercase and lowercase iteration. In fact, the word “capital” came to be used for the letters because they were used at the top of Roman columns, which was called the capital.

Can Roman Numerals be Lowercase?

While people now use English letters to represent the Roman numerals, the original numerals were simply the form only, and there was not a lowercase version until they began to be represented in English.

Because English letters now are used to represent the Roman numerals, it is not uncommon to find them written in lowercase, especially when used in outlines and lists. This can help to delineate the level in an outline; the first level is standard Roman numerals (I, II, III), followed by one or more of the following: capital English letters (A, B, C), English numerals (1, 2, 3), lowercase Roman numeral representation (i, ii, iii), or lowercase English letters (a, b, c). Whatever pattern is chosen is repeated if further layers are needed.

Along with the numerals themselves, other terms used with Roman numerals are generally capitalized. An example of this is when used in titles such as Chapter IV or Section II.

One other situation in which one may find lowercase Roman numerals is as page numbering when the pages occur before the official first page of a book, usually a textbook.

Regardless of whether the Roman numerals are capital or not, the value remains the same. XIV and xiv both represent 14. However, to be correct in most situations, the capital form should be used. Unless it is certain that the lowercase form is appropriate, it is best to use capital letters for Roman numerals.

Is the Term “Roman Numerals” Capitalized?

While Roman numerals themselves are generally capitalized, the term “Roman numerals” also has some special capitalization rules. The word “Roman” should always be capitalized since nationalities are always capitalized. “Numerals” on the other hand does not need to be capitalized in a sentence unless it is used in a title and follows title capitalization rules.

To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.


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