Q. With the rise of verbs that have specific connotations in social media (like, follow, comment, etc.), how should they be styled? In this case, it’s important to specify the user take an action on a specific social media platform. My instinct is to capitalize: “Give the post a Like. Leave a Comment. Make sure to Follow the account.” Should I be using scare quotes instead, or are these terms ubiquitous enough that lowercase will be clear in an instructional sense? Thanks for your help!

A. In most types of prose, you can like, unlike, follow, friend, unfriend, and so on, no quotation marks, italics, or initial caps required. The same goes for nouns, whether you give a post a like (or a heart) or leave a comment. But if, as your question suggests, you’re writing instructions (as on a Help page), then we agree with your initial capitals, though not for everything.

We’d use capitalization only for direct references to the interface:

To react favorably to a post, click Like or Love.

To share, use the Share button.

To leave a comment, use the “Add a comment . . .” text box.


To leave a Comment, use the Add a comment . . . text box.

The capitalized words in the first three examples reflect how those terms appear in either Facebook or Instagram. But we’ve used quotation marks in the third example to enclose text that’s capitalized like a sentence; without the quotation marks, that phrase wouldn’t stand out from the surrounding text. Terms from other platforms will vary. For some related advice, see CMOS 7.79.