Capitalizing Theories

Phyllis P. asked, "Should theories be in uppercase or identified by italics when adding to a research paper, i.e., in 'Dr. Goodman's theory of whole language,’ should 'whole language' be uppercase or lowercase?" Here's the answer.

Mignon Fogarty,
February 5, 2015

capitalize theories

Theories aren't capitalized or highlighted with italics, but you do capitalize someone's name when it’s part of a theory:

  • Dr. Goodman's theory of whole language
  • Einstein's general theory of relativity
  • Squiggly's theory of chocolate melting dynamics

The same rules apply to laws and hypotheses.

(Note that capitalization of theories, laws, an hypotheses is ultimately a style choice and some style guides give other recommendations. Keeping them lowercase is simply a good, common style.)