Citation Guide

What do I capitalize in APA (6th ed.)?

The APA Style Blog provides examples of different types of (capitalized) proper nouns, along with some (lowercased) regular or common noun corollaries:

Author or Person

  • Proper – Freud, Skinner, von Neumann
  • Common – the author, the investigator, the mathematician

Company, Institution, or Agency 

  • Proper – American Psychological Association, University of Washington, Department of Sociology
  • Common – the association, a university, a sociology department


  • Proper - Advil, Xerox, Prozac (brand names)
  • Common - ibuprofen, photocopy, fluoxetine (generic names)

Test or Inventory

  • Proper - Beck Depression Inventory, Child Behavior Checklist
  • Common - a depression inventory, a behavior checklist

Website or Database

  • Proper - PsycINFO, Facebook, Survey Monkey, Internet
  • Common - a database, a social media page, a website, online

Periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper)

  • Proper - Journal of Counseling Psychology, Time, The Washington Post
  • Common - a psychology journal, a magazine, a newspaper

Software, Program, or App

  • Proper - SPSS, MPlus, Davis's Drug Guide for iPhone
  • Common - statistical software, a computer program, a mobile app drug guide

Legal Materials (statutes, acts, codes, bills, etc.) 

  • Proper - Americans with Disabilities Act, FDA Prescription Drug Advertising Rule, U.S. Consitution
  • Common - antidiscrimination laws, drug advertising legislation, a constitution

What do I NOT capitalize in APA (6th ed.)?

The APA Style Blog provides examples of what not to capitalize. Note that proper nouns within these terms usually retain their capitalization.


  • five factor personality model, associative learning model

Theory or philosophy

  • behaviorism, psychoanalytic theory, Freudian theory

Therapy or technique

  • client-centered therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy


  • object permanence, confirmation bias, correlation


  • major depressive disorder, depression, Alzheimer's disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder


  • null hypothesis, experimental hypothesis

Condition or group in an experiment

  • control group, experimental group 


  • the age variable, the effect of gender

Statistical procedure or test

  • analysis of variance, t test, standard deviation

Academic subject/discipline

  • social psychology, nursing, English, Spanish, business

Scientific law

  • law of symmetry, Newton's three laws of motion