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Defining a proper noun

I’m trying to apply a consistent style to a teacher training website and am battling the Capital Letter Police on a few issues.

I’ve culled capital letters for nouns such as “teacher” and “headteacher” unless we refer it as part of a job title.

Now I am left with names of meetings and forms that have traditionally been capitalised, but I’m not sure they need to be. Should such things be capitalised if they are being discussed generally? Eg:

“You should undertake three observed teaching sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a teaching feedback form.”


“You should undertake three Observed Teaching Sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a Teaching Feedback Form.”

And: “Download a teaching feedback form (link to PDF).” or “Download a Teaching Feedback Form (link to PDF).”

Any advice?

  • March 10, 2009
  • Posted by missmass
  • Filed in Misc

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Since it's a title, I think you've got a case for "Teaching Feedback Form"

I'm on the fence as far as "observed teaching sessions" goes. It seems like it needs a way to make it stand apart, but I'm not sure what the best way to do that is. Italics maybe?

EGKG March 10, 2009, 1:10pm

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1. Observed Teaching sessions
2. Teaching Feedback Form

PT March 11, 2009, 6:33pm

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Thanks for the feedback!

missmass March 12, 2009, 4:17am

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I don't think either of those terms requires capitalization, especially since we're talking about a Web site, on which these will likely be set apart stylistically with whatever style your links take. Capitalizing them seems distracting and unnecessary to me.

I'd really like to see the site. What will the address be?

mrshawke March 12, 2009, 2:25pm

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"Observed Teaching Session"
"Teaching Feedback Form"

Both of these examples appear to me to be names for specific things, not general descriptions. Capitalizing them makes it clear, for example, that you are referring to the official Teaching Feedback Form, not an example of a category of forms that could be used to provide feedback on teaching.

jaotto March 13, 2009, 6:31pm

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It seems to me that anything COULD be defined as a proper noun, but that there should be documentation of such a thing. If there's a form that says at the top "Teaching Feedback Form," then referring to that form with its formal name would be a case for capitalization. Likewise, if someone is having an observed teaching session as opposed to those other, unobserved teaching sessions, no capitalization would be needed. However, if documentation of the process states that there is a specific step that is the "Observed Teaching Session," officially, I think it would be capitalized.

I have this trouble all the time at my job. My doctors have a "Heart Function Clinic," where patients check medications, vitals, pacemakers, etc. However, whatever the doctor calls it-- "pacemaker clinic," for example--they want me to capitalize it, even though, IMNSHO, there's no WAY it should be capitalized as a proper noun unless they're using the <i>proper</i> name.

scyllacat April 12, 2009, 9:26am

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If you ever want to see a reader's feedback :) , I rate this post for 4/5. Decent info, but I just have to go to that damn yahoo to find the missed parts. Thanks, anyway!
p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

cojusib2ojepi June 20, 2009, 11:45am

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designermistress1 December 13, 2009, 12:38pm

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alan.person December 15, 2009, 12:23pm

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julia0345 March 1, 2013, 5:54pm

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I know I occasionally link to my own blog, but that last comment really looks like spam to me. The page directed to isn't much more enlightening than that comment, and the whole site looks as though it was written with Google Translate. But it's quite good for a laugh; here are a few gems:

"For example, if I was to write a letter to a man named John, and I wrote "John" envelope, it would be very angry."

"In everyday life, it has the advantage of the most perfect good knowledge of grammar. Teach your child to use proper names should also be discussed"

If you remember the names used, you are probably a surprisingly successful future"

Warsaw Will March 2, 2013, 12:54am

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You know Will, I was just about to click "report abuse", just like I did for the designer fasion spam a few posts up. But, after seeing your funny quotes from the site, I thought, better to leave it there for everyone's amusement:)

porsche March 3, 2013, 6:09am

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Hi porsche, I've had very similar ones on my blog, so as soon as I saw it I was suspicious. I delete them there because my blog is for foreign learners and the grammar they used was awful. Talking of grammar, thanks for backing me up elsewhere, by the way.

Warsaw Will March 3, 2013, 7:59am

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Yes     No