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
1-minute read

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.)

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.