Given the increasing hype and attention surrounding the upcoming election, you may be wondering if the phrase “electoral college” should be capitalized since it may not seem very intuitive as to how to proceed. Upon initial inspection, the word combination does not seem particularly exceptional to require capitalization.
Electoral is simply an adjective describing what this college is, as in the case of “electoral vote” or “electoral process”; in these cases, no capitalization is necessary because they are compound nouns but not particularly distinct from similar nouns nor are they referring to a specific electoral vote or a specific electoral process. Likewise, the word “college” is not capitalized unless it’s affiliated with a specific school, such as “Harvard College”; in the case of Harvard College, this is a proper noun because, like someone’s name, it is referring to a specific college and proper nouns are always capitalized.
Is “Electoral College” Capitalized?
Similar to it’s use with a specific school, which is a proper noun, you do write “Electoral College” capitalized. This is because together, you are describing a specific entity which in this case is the group of voters responsible for casting the votes for their respective states to decide who the president will be. Because this is a specific entity, similar to a person, you capitalize the first letters just as you would capitalize someone’s name.
This may seem counterintuitive because the electoral college is not a college like Harvard nor is it a specific person. However, because college also means an organized group of people with a specific aim, college is capitalized just as it would be with any academic institution. Finally, because the Electoral college is a government entity, you need to capitalize it just as you capitalize other, similar government titles such as U.S. Constitution or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once again, the U.S. title helps to signify that this is a distinct entity, making it a proper noun and ultimately requiring capitalization.
This may all seem very confusing, but the simple explanation is that if a word is describing a unique person, place or thing, whether it’s Manga or Japan, it gets capitalized. Though this may seem like somewhat of a formality, as most people will understand what you are referring to if you don’t use capitalization, if you are trying to ensure that your reference is considered proper or you receive an adequate grade for an affiliated assignment, you need to make sure that you capitalize “Electoral college.” Just like your vote, capitalization matters!