Capital letters help you navigate text by showing where a sentence or name starts, or they give importance to something/someone or set the text apart.

The RNLI has tended to overuse capitals, leading to text that is very hard to read. A recent fashion for the use of lower case in part reflects a less formal society; in particular, some online communicators and brands have dispensed with capitals altogether.

The RNLI’s style for the use of capitals aims for simplicity, ease of remembering, coherence and, most of all, clarity. As with any aspect of style, it is impossible to be wholly consistent – there are almost always exceptions, so if you are unsure check below or look for an individual entry in the wider alphabetical guide.

See buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues (below).

Do not use capitals for the collective noun:

  • golden wedding anniversary
  • 10th anniversary
  • centenary (100th) bicentenary (200th), sesquicentenary (150th)
  • birthday.

Do use capitals for the title of an event:

  • 50th Anniversary Party, see events (below).

Use capitals for the specific name of the appeal/campaign/competition/programme/roadshow/scheme but do not use capitals for the collective noun:

Dart appeal
Lifeguard appeal
Save our Severns appeal

Use an initial capital when appeal is part of a title on a leaflet or poster for example: Portsmouth Lifeboat Appeal.

Track my Catch app

Respect the Water campaign
Save Every One campaign

Photographer of the Year competition

Swim Safe programme

Community Safety roadshow

Surf Hire Safety scheme
Future Crew – the RNLI's youth activity scheme.

See buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues (below).

awards see medals and awards

boat names see lifeboat names

books see titles (below)

breeds of animal
Initial upper case for the specific breed, species but lower case for the noun – African Grey parrot, German Shepherd dog.

buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues
When using the full name, use capitals both for the collective noun and for the specific part of the building name:

• RNLI Headquarters
• Arranmore Lifeboat Station
• Ireland Central Division
• Henry Blogg Museum
• Lifeboat Collection
• Swords Regional Base
• Inshore Lifeboat Centre
• RNLI College
• Learning Resources Centre
• Electronic Repair Centre
• Survival Centre
• Lifeboat Pier.

When abbreviating to just the collective noun, do not capitalise:
• the headquarters of the charity
• the lifeboat station on the quay
• in the division
• the museum was awarded a design award
• contact your local regional base
• the centre is excellent
• the college held its first wedding
• at the pier.

For internal audiences only, further abbreviations may be made to:
• ERC (Electronic Repair Centre)
• ILC (Inshore Lifeboat Centre)
• HQ (Headquarters)
• LRC (Learning Resources Centre)
• LSC (Lifeboat Support Centre).

Similarly for non-RNLI
• Woburn Abbey … at the abbey
• New Art Gallery … the exhibition at the gallery
• London Bridge … crossed the bridge
• Chichester Cathedral … the cathedral in the centre of town
• St Mary's Church … they met at the church
• Moors Valley Country Park … they ran through the country park
• Northumberland County Show … the county show was well attended
• Churchfield Farm … they visited the farm
• Derriford Hospital … the casualty was taken to hospital
• Upton House … the wedding venue at the house
• Fleetsbridge Industrial Estate … stored on the industrial estate
• Anstruther Harbour Marina … at the marina
• Weston Marine Lake … the boats on the lake
• Merseyside Maritime Museum … the museum is interesting
• Blackpool Pier … they jumped off the pier
• Devonport High School for Girls … the school is oversubscribed
• Ash Railway Station … they met at the railway station
• Oak Town Hall … the event is at the town hall
• Beech Tube Station … the collection took place at the tube station
• Blenheim Palace … the palace
except that the Palace is to be used for Buckingham Palace in stories about royalty
• Red Lion Pub … the three-legged pub race
• Croft Farm Water Park … fun and games in the park
• Edinburgh Zoo … visited the zoo.

See also groups (below)

See appeals/campaigns/competitions/programmes/roadshows/schemes (above).

ceremonies see events (below)

charity/company names see titles – charity/company names (below)

compass points/directions
Do not use initial capitals for north, east, south and west and all other points of the compass except if they are part of a political/organisational area/group or building:

• to the west of Barra Island
• a south-east wind
• north Scotland
• north-west Wales


• Northern Ireland
• East Sussex
• Bath and North East Somerset Council
• Wales North and North-West Division
• Regional Base South-West.

Avoid saying just the north or the south-east (unless the publication/information is just for a specific region or country).

See also diversity and compass points.

See appeals/campaigns/competitions/programmes/roadshows/schemes (above).

Covid-19 or coronavirus

courses see training courses (below)

Do use initial capitals for days of the week:
Monday, Tuesday and others.

Do not shorten to Mon, Tues, and so on.

Use initial capitals:
• Christmas Eve/Christmas Day
• Boxing Day
• New Year's Eve/New Year's Day
• Easter Day
• Father's Day
• Mother's Day
• Valentine's Day.

departments see groups (below)

Use italics for emphasis: NEVER use BLOCK CAPITALS or underline for emphasis.

Do use capitals for the individual title/name of all events, whether local, national or international events:

• Reindeer Run
• Mayday
• Sligo Bay Naming Ceremony
• Workington Fish and Chip Supper
• Annual General Meeting
• Annual Presentation of Awards.

Do not use capitals when talking about events in the generic sense:
• a lifeboat open day
• the station's open day
• a reindeer run and several reindeer runs
• a naming ceremony, some naming ceremonies.

• Virgin London Marathon/Belfast City Marathon
• Great North Run
• Cowes Week
• Volvo Ocean Race
• Harry Smith's Baptism Ceremony
• Eliot's Christening
• Lee and John's Civil Partnership
• Janet's Funeral
• Joe and Jill's Marriage
• Robert and Jane's Wedding Ceremony

Do not use capitals when talking about events in the generic sense:
• a marathon
• the supper was delicious
• a gala dinner
• a concert
• a county show
• a yacht race
• at the baptism but at the Christening
• the wedding was wonderful.

See also God (below).

Be aware of corporate/brand name events and follow the company's/organisation's own style:
• NG New York City Marathon

geographical features see geographical features/location

In hymns, prayers and exclamations, capitalise:

  • God, Father, Jesus, Son, Christ, Holy Spirit, He, His, Him, Her
  • May God help me! God bless America
  • You think, God, I hope …

Lower case:

  • many gods
  • the Greek gods.

No capital for heaven (and hell!).

Do use capitals for the specific part of the group name and for the collective noun:

Longhope Branch
Sevenoaks and District Branch
Queensferry Guild
Bundoran Lifeboat Station
Executive Team
Flood Rescue Team
Creative Services Team
Community Safety Team
Public Rescue Equipment Working Group
Trustee Committee
Sub-committees relating directly to the Trustee Committee – Audit Committee, Property Sub-Committee, Membership Nomination Committee, Remuneration Committee
Advisory committees – Operations Committee (and its Medical and Survival Sub-Committee), Resources Committee, Finance and IS Committee (and its Investment Sub-Committee), Fundraising and Communications Committee, Technical Committee
Safety Secretariat
Staff Association
Family Association

⇒ When abbreviating to just the collective noun, do not capitalise:
the department has lots of stuff
the committee decided
the branch raised lots of money
the lifeboat station opened its doors to the public
the team worked well together
the team offered safety advice.

⇒ Non-RNLI

→ Clubs
• Plymouth Argyle Football Club
• Waterside Yacht Club
• Glasgow Warriors Rugby Club
• Bantham Surf Life Saving Club, but lifesaving clubs in general

→ Councils
• Wrexham County Borough Council
• Dundee City Council
• Armagh City and District Council

→ National organisations and groups:
• British Diving Safety Group
• National Water Safety Group Ireland
• National Standards Authority of Ireland

→ Orchestras
• Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra … I play in the orchestra

→ Schools
• Sutton High Schools for Girls … the school down the road
• St Luke’s Middle School

→ Singers
• Exmouth Shantymen
• Fron Male Voice Choir but I sing in the choir
• Birmingham Singers.

See also titles – charity/company names (below).

See also buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues (above).

magazines see titles (below)

man-made features
See buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues (above).

medals see medals and awards

membership grades
Use initial capitals:
• Governor, Life Governor, Offshore, Shoreline, Storm Force (the club for children, but storm force 10 wind is lower case)

months initial capitals
• January, February and so on.
Do not shorten, except in Launches section of Lifeboat magazine and for opening times.

naming ceremonies see events (above)

nationality, race and religion
Initial upper case, for example, Dutch, Icelandic lifeboat services, Caucasian, Jewish, Atheist, Christian, Humanist, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Sikh.

organisations see groups (above)

papers see titles (below)

plans see titles (below)

policies see titles (below)

See appeals/campaigns/competitions/programmes/roadshows/schemes (above).

race and religion see nationality, race and religion (above)

reports see titles (below)

See appeals/campaigns/competitions/programmes/roadshows/schemes (above).

See appeals/campaigns/competitions/programmes/roadshows/schemes (above).

Lower case autumn, winter, spring, summer.

services (emergency, military, search and rescue (SAR))
• Say the RNLI or the RNLI’s lifeboat service or RNLI’s lifeguard service (note no capitals).
• Do not say the Lifeboats/the Lifeboats service, the Lifeguards/the Lifeguards service.

⇒ Non-RNLI
→ Do use initial capitals:
• Coastguard (UK)
• Coast Guard (Republic of Ireland)
• US Coast Guard
• Coastguards (UK) or volunteer coastguard rescue officers or coast guards (Republic of Ireland/US)
• coastguard if referring to both the Coastguard (UK) and the Coast Guard (Republic of Ireland/US)
• Royal Navy, RAF, Army
• Police, when referring to the service
• Fire service or Fire and Rescue service (not Fire Brigade) … the Fire and Rescue service also attended
• Air Ambulance service or Ambulance service.

→ Capitalise Service only if it’s part of the full name of the individual organisation, for example, if specific county or town service is mentioned – Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

→ Use lower case for:
• police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors.

strategies see titles (below)

⇒ Italics for all words and use of initial capitals except and, a, of, the (unless at the start of the title), :
• academic papers Lifeguards As First Responders
• Acts Data Protection Act but the data protection clauses
• artwork The Homecoming
• booklets/handbooks Handbook 2020
• books How To Make Your Communication Stick
• CDs Still So Far To Go
• DVDs The Impossible Dream
• factsheets The RNLI Today
• films Zombieland
• leaflets Loud and Clear
• magazines Woman’s Own
• newsletters (including electronic versions) RNLI Life
• newspapers The Times
• plans Saving More Lives, Our Watch
• policies Child Protection Policy, RNLI Code of Conduct
• plays The Vagina Monologues
• radio programmes Friday Night Is Music Night
• Regulations Fire Regulations
• reports Annual Report and Accounts
• sculptures Draped Reclining Woman but RNLI memorial
• songs These Are My Twisted Words
• strategies RNLI Strategy
• TV programmes Saving Lives at Sea, Blue Peter, Steptoe and Son

→ If you have a boat name within the title, for example the painting The Wreck of the St George, italicise the whole title.

⇒ Use Roman, not italics for:
• websites
• electronic media

• Concur
• Groupwise
• Outlook
• Porthole
• Signposting Toolkit
• People Finder
• Location Finder
• homepage
• Shorething!

→ Non-RNLI – use the website’s own style:
• Facebook
• YouTube
• BeBo
• eBay
• myspace.

⇒ Roman, not italics, and generally all capitals for charity/company names:
• British Gas
• Aer Lingus
• Tall Ships
• Surf Life Saving Great Britain
• World Health Organization

⇒ Follow the company’s own style as some may be lower case or a mixture,
• basilica, eBay, real, - BERLIN-MARATHON.

⇒ Minimise the use of capitals for job titles. Use initial capitals when an individual's title or job is immediately before or after their name:

  • Chief Executive Sally Curtis spoke up at the meeting.
  • Craig McNair, Coxswain, saved 12 lives in 2016.
  • Crew Members Abdul Khan and Issy O’Brien rescued 5 children.

Also use initial capitals for HM The Queen, the Dalai Lama and Aga Khan.

⇒ In all other cases, use lower case:

• The lifeboat operations manager called a meeting.
• As editor of the magazine, Joe Thewlis had the final say on content.
• Go to the doctor.
• Sam was a merchant banker before he joined the RNLI.

When it’s a description, rather than a job title, use lower case:

• RNLI spokesperson Jed Wiltshire.
• Pip Hare, ocean sailor.
• RNLI volunteer Faisel Ahmad raised £1,000.

Use initial capitals for specified roles in formal governance documents like the RNLI Annual Report and Accounts: Chairman, Trustee, Trustees.

training courses
Use a capital for the specific name of the course but do not use capitals for the collective noun; no italics
• Casualty Care course (but … administering casualty care)
• Manual Handling course
• Search and Rescue course (but ... search and rescue helicopter)

vanity URLs
For RNLI vanity URLs with just one word, use lower case:

For RNLI vanity URLs with more than one word, use initial capitals on all words:

See buildings/amenities/attractions/man-made features/venues (above).

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