Q. I doubt I will have the power to change this, but coworkers have insisted that common nouns like “incidents” and “requests” be capitalized in all communications because they are capitalized in the original contract. So folks are to “report Incidents or submit Requests,” and “high-priority Incidents” must be reported a certain way. I think the capitalization is unnecessary. Is it correct? I really just want personal and internal vindication, but I’d accept being corrected.
A. Although common nouns should be lowercased in a term paper or newspaper article or book or any other kind of formal writing, if people want certain words to pop in internal office memos or advertisements, capping is a way to achieve that. Legal documents require caps for defined terms, so if you’re working in a law office, you might ask a higher-up the reason for capitals, and then do as you’re told. (And if you grew up reading the original Winnie-the-Pooh books, you can enjoy a secret chuckle at the pomposity the capitals convey, here as there.)