Should You Capitalize 'Social Media'?

The names of formal eras are capitalized, but is "the social media era" a formal era?

Mignon Fogarty
2-minute read


Michael C. from Brooklyn asked whether "social media" should be capitalized in a sentence like this: "I enjoy the social media era and the platforms that support it."

Michael's question was a little tricky because I know the names of real eras are capitalized, but I wasn't sure about the names of made up eras. The AP Stylebook calls for capitalizing the names of "widely recognized" eras and the Chicago Manual of Style recommends capitalizing "formal" eras. Based on that advice, I believe Michael should not capitalize "social media" since it isn't a well-known, established geological era or historical period.

Here are some examples:

· The Roaring Twenties

· The Great Depression

· The Paleozoic era

· The social media era

Although I don’t believe it’s required, I would also be tempted to hyphenate "social media" since it is acting as a compound modifier before the word "era." The hyphen would make it clear you mean one thingsocial media, which comprises services such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok—instead of a media era that is also social, which could mean journalists who attend a lot of parties.

· I enjoy the social-media era.

If our time becomes widely and formally known as the Social Media era in the same way the 1920s are now commonly known as the Roaring Twenties, then "social media" would be capitalized, and you wouldn’t have to worry about a hyphen because the meaning would be clear.


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.