Capitalization

Q. What is the proper way to capitalize (or not capitalize) “generation X”? Merriam-Webster lists “baby boom” and “baby boomer,” which I would normally take as a precedent, but it seems that “generation” should be capitalized because it precedes a single letter. Has this been decided?

Q. Besides italicization, does “ceteris paribus” require an initial C? In an article of mine, I wrote: “With this notation, the ceteris paribus cost relevant to the source . . .” The copyeditor capitalized “ceteris” but not “paribus.” Why would that be?

Q. CMOS, 14th edition, paragraph 7.19, mentions that titles are commonly lowercase (president of the United States) but that there is an exception with the title of Speaker. There is debate in my office over the titles of archivist of the United States, Smithsonian secretary, and librarian of Congress. If they do not precede a name, do they remain lowercase?

Q. What is the proper pronoun form to use to refer to God? I was taught to capitalize the pronoun “He” when “God” was the antecedent. However, I checked a number of standard grammar handbooks and can’t find any information on this point. Have the rules changed?

Q. I understand the general rules about titles (academic, civic, etc.), but I am working on a project that has quite a few instances of the following: “We are pleased to have the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock here with us today. . . . We appreciate the support of the Prime Minister of India.” I would lowercase “prime minister of India,” but what to do about the minister of food, agriculture, and livestock? Should it be the minister of Food, Agriculture, and Livestock, all lowercase, or title case? Thanks for your help.

Q. I would like additional clarification regarding a recent Q&A. You stated that a word that is part of a proper name should not be capitalized if such word is being used as an article in the sentence. The example given was “We evaluated the University of Texas’s enrollment data.” You stated that this was correct even if the proper name of this school is “The University of Texas.” I thought that the goal of good editing was to produce clear, accurate, and comprehensible text. If “The” as part of a proper name is not capitalized, the reader will be led to believe that it is not part of the name. Why create confusion, to say nothing of the insult that may be given in certain cultures and communities where a name may have great significance?

Q. Throughout a book I am editing, there are numerous references to rules and laws that the author defines, for example, the Law of Cause and Effect, the Rules of the Game. She also capitalizes other words that are normally lowercased: Light (as in “toward the Light”) and Habit (when referring to a behavior that keeps us from following the rules of the game). I realize that she is capitalizing to place an emphasis on these words and make them stand out, but I am not entirely comfortable with this. Do you have any suggestions?

Q. My grammar books say to cap the first word of what comes after a colon if what comes after the colon is a complete sentence. I noticed you didn’t do that. (“Check it out in printed books and magazines and newspapers: you probably won’t find any double periods after abbreviations.”)

Q. When should the word “century” be capitalized? I know it would not be capitalized in this case: “It’s not happened in this century.” But what about this: “Were many people rich in the eighteenth century?” or “What did people wear in eighteenth-century Pennsylvania?”

Q. Can you revisit the issue of capitalization of “city of” and “state of” when used to identify an employer? Under 7.40 in the 14th edition, words such as “city” and “state” “are capitalized when they are used as an accepted part of the proper name.” Presumably you mean accepted by the powers of CMOS. In my example, Jan Johnson works for the (c)ity of Johnsonville, and I would like to offer her recognition in a conference brochure along with Rick Ricker of the state department of transportation. Suffice to say that heated debate is generated when one questions the way things always have been done.