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Should the words “internet” and “web” be capitalized?

For the most part Internet is capitalized, less frequently it occurs uncapitalized. Is this a style issue or is one considered more correct.

Subjectively, would the average reader consider using the uncapitalized version to be a mistake / display of poor English?

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marked as duplicate by MrHen, Marthaª, Rhodri, RegDwigнt May 19 '11 at 17:43

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Internet should be capitalised, because it's a proper noun and defines a single, definite thing not something general (like the word tree, for example).

If you look up the word, you'll find it always capitalised, I can link you to the OALD, as an example.

If you're writing in some informal context, most people won't mind if you write it lowercase, though. But if we consider some official context, for example writing your Curriculum Vitae, you would write it properly.

EDIT: After Garet's comment, I decided to introduce a distinction. If you want to refer to a general inter-network (which by the way, it's the compound where "Internet" comes from) or if you want to use the same term to refer to something which is not the World Wide Internet, then it would be written lowercase.

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+1 - you beat me to it:-) –  Rory Alsop May 19 '11 at 12:14
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+1 good answer. Something to add but I think this is the right answer so I'll put it here. There's a difference in capitalization for 'the Internet' and, say, an internet between two partner organizations. The former being the "normal" Internet and the latter usually being two inter-connected intra nets. –  Garet Claborn May 19 '11 at 13:30
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@Garet Claborn: You're right, I didn't thought of making the distiction since his doubts were basically about the Internet we all know... :D –  Alenanno May 19 '11 at 14:21
    
True, true. I just wanted to say it so no one would someday read this question and go violently accost unsuspecting writers of 'an internet'. ;P –  Garet Claborn May 19 '11 at 14:27
    
Can the person who downvoted explain why? Thanks. –  Alenanno May 19 '11 at 14:45

An internet is simply a network of networks. The Internet is the worldwide TCP/IP-based internet that we all share.

Usually, you'll want to avoid the generic lowercase usage, to avoid confusion.

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+1 - internet can also be used (without capitalization) to describe something (ie. an internet-ready computer) –  snumpy May 19 '11 at 14:29

I would say that it is becoming less and less common to write "Internet", as if it were a proper noun. Indeed, the use of the phrasing "the internet" tends to indicate that "internet" is not a proper noun, because if it were, the word "the" would be redundant.

The proportion of people who are familiar with the origin of "the internet" as a proper noun, or indeed to who understand that the phenomenological features of the internet qualify it as being capable of having a proper noun, seems to be dwindling. My guess is that most people think of the internet as being like the telephone system or the air - a thing that lacks either unity, number, or identity.

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