Should ‘Computer Science’ Be Capitalized? An In-Depth Guide

Computer science has exploded in popularity over the last decade, becoming one of the most common college majors and sought-after career paths. But should you capitalize ‘computer science’ when writing it? This is a question that often stumps students and professionals alike.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the debate around capitalizing computer science and provide tips for stylistic consistency.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Most style guides advise lowercase computer science, since it’s a field of study not a proper noun. However, some established publications and organizations capitalize it, so consistency within a document is key.

We’ll start by looking at the arguments on both sides of whether to capitalize computer science or not. We’ll also review the standards set by prominent style guides like AP, Chicago, and APA. Next, we’ll provide examples of computer science captioned both ways in real-world settings.

We’ll end with tips for maintaining consistency and when you may want to intentionally capitalize computer science. By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge to handle this nuance with confidence.

The Case for Lowercase Computer Science

When it comes to capitalization, the debate over whether to capitalize “Computer Science” or keep it in lowercase has been ongoing. Let’s explore the case for lowercase and why it might be the preferred option.

Common Noun vs Proper Noun

One argument for keeping “computer science” in lowercase is that it is a common noun rather than a proper noun. According to grammar rules, common nouns are generally not capitalized unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.

Since “computer science” refers to a field of study rather than a specific name or title, it falls under the common noun category.

By using lowercase for “computer science,” it aligns with the general rules of capitalization and avoids any confusion about whether it should be treated as a proper noun.

Associated Style Guide Stances

Several style guides, such as the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and the Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook, recommend using lowercase for “computer science.” These style guides are widely recognized and followed by journalists, academics, and professionals in various fields.

Following these established style guides helps maintain consistency in writing and ensures that the rules of capitalization are applied uniformly across different contexts. It also avoids confusion and promotes clarity in communication.

Examples in Academic Writing

When looking at examples in academic writing, it is evident that lowercase is commonly used for “computer science.” Many reputable academic institutions and publications, such as Stanford University and the Journal of Computer Science, consistently utilize lowercase in their publications.

By following the conventions set by these esteemed institutions, writers can maintain credibility and adhere to the accepted norms within the academic community.

It’s important to note that capitalization can vary depending on the specific context or style guide being followed. However, overall, the case for lowercase “computer science” is strong, supported by grammar rules, style guide recommendations, and common usage in academic writing.

For more information on capitalization rules and style guide preferences, you can visit websites like AP Stylebook and MLA.

Arguments for Capitalizing Computer Science

Shows Respect for the Field

One of the main arguments for capitalizing “Computer Science” is that it shows respect for the field and recognizes it as a distinct and important discipline. By capitalizing it, we acknowledge that Computer Science is not just a generic term for any type of computer-related activity, but rather a specialized and rigorous academic field with its own set of principles, theories, and methodologies.

This capitalization helps elevate the status of Computer Science and emphasizes its significance in today’s technological world.

Clear Differentiation from Generic Usages

Capitalizing “Computer Science” also helps to differentiate it from generic usages of the term. Without capitalization, it becomes more difficult to distinguish between Computer Science as an academic discipline and computer science as a general concept or the act of programming and using computers.

Capitalizing “Computer Science” clarifies that we are referring to the formal study of computers and computational systems, rather than any general computer-related activity.

Precedent in Some Formal Names

There is also a precedent for capitalizing “Computer Science” in some formal names and titles. For example, many universities and academic institutions use capitalization in their department names, such as the Department of Computer Science.

This consistency in capitalization helps maintain uniformity and reinforces the recognition of Computer Science as a distinct and important field of study.

Enhances Readability

Capitalizing “Computer Science” enhances readability and makes it easier for readers to identify and comprehend the subject matter. When we capitalize proper nouns, such as the names of academic disciplines, it helps guide the reader’s understanding and draws attention to the significance of the topic.

By capitalizing “Computer Science,” we highlight its importance and make it stand out in written text, ensuring that it is not overlooked or mistaken for something else.

Navigating Inconsistent Usage

When it comes to capitalizing the term “Computer Science,” there is no definitive answer. The usage of capitalization for this field of study can vary depending on the context, style guide, or personal preference. However, there are some guidelines that can help you navigate this inconsistent usage.

Maintain Internal Consistency

One important aspect to consider is maintaining internal consistency within your own writing. If you choose to capitalize “Computer Science” in one instance, be sure to do so throughout your document or article.

Consistency not only enhances readability but also demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism.

Adapt to Reader Expectations

Another factor to consider is the expectations of your readers. If you are writing for a specific audience or publication that consistently capitalizes “Computer Science,” it may be wise to follow suit.

Adhering to the conventions of your target audience can help establish credibility and foster a better connection with your readers.

However, if you are writing for a more general audience or in a context where capitalization is not common, it may be more appropriate to use lowercase for “computer science.” This can help avoid confusion or distractions caused by inconsistent capitalization.

When to Intentionally Capitalize

While the general rule for capitalizing “Computer Science” may be lowercase, there are instances where intentional capitalization is appropriate. For example, when referring to a specific course or program, such as “Introduction to Computer Science,” it is customary to capitalize the field of study.

Similarly, when using the term as part of a proper noun, like the name of a department or institution, capitalization is often employed.

It is worth noting that different style guides may have specific rules regarding capitalization. For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide recommends capitalizing “Computer Science” when it is part of a title or heading but using lowercase when used in the body of the text.


The capitalization of computer science is less a hard grammatical rule than a stylistic choice. While many style guides support lowercase, established organizations and publications set their own standards. Writers should aim for consistency within a document and adapt to reader expectations.

Though computer science does not need to be capitalized in all cases, doing so intentionally can show respect for the field and enhance readability when appropriate.

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