Knowing the correct rules for capitalization can be challenging, especially for words such as federal and state
. As a result of this, the question of whether “federal” is capitalized often arises in different conversations both at schools and other places.
Should you capitalize “federal?”
When used as a proper noun or a title, the word can be uppercase.
This means that in cases where it is used to refer to a government entity or institution its first letter should be capitalized. For instance, you can write “Federal Bureau of Investigation” or “Federal Trade Commission.”
However, you cannot write “Federal Courts.” When the word is used as a generic adjective you use lowercase letters. For example, you can write “federal laws” or “federal assistance.”
In some cases, the general rule above may not always be followed. For instance, when the word is used as part of a title of any published document, it has to be capitalized
. This also applies in cases where one is using a quote from another published piece. Direct in-text citations require capitalization if the first letter is capitalized in the original text regardless of whether it is used as an adjective or noun.
Should you capitalize “Federal Government?”
Sometimes. When used as a proper noun and referring directly to the “Federal Government” in its official capacity, then you should capitalize it. In most cases, however, you should use lowercase “federal government” according to the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook since the government is composed of multiple branches and is not a singular entity.
The fact that most professional editors like to use the word in lowercase letters can add to the confusion about its correct capitalization. However, government guidelines and other writing styles can provide the best guidance.
To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.