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There seems to be some inconsistency on whether people capitalize the words internet and web (as in World Wide Web) as proper nouns. What is the official ruling on when or if these words should be capitalized?

Obviously, I am not asking about when they are the first word in a sentence or in the title of a book or other publication.

Example:

"The web is the most commonly known feature of the Internet."

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There is no official ruling, because there is no official body governing English usage. Wikipedia always uses "Internet" while the BBC quite happily uses "internet". The World Wide Web Consortium consistently calls it "Internet". –  Vincent McNabb Aug 14 '10 at 11:25
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Granted, but is there at least some consensus among the more popular style guides/dictionaries on this? –  JohnFx Aug 24 '10 at 15:25
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6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

My reasoning is that there is really only one network named Internet - therefore it's the Internet, while "web" is a more generic term, meaning any network (but probably referring to YouTube anyway ;).

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You claim that things of which there are only one should be capitalized? –  delete Aug 13 '10 at 7:25
    
Oops, sorry, that wasn't my point. It should be capitalized because it's a proper noun, a name of one very specific network. –  analytik Aug 14 '10 at 10:17
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web is not just a generic term for a network. Not in this context anyway. web is short for World Wide Web, one of many applications that run on the Internet. –  Kevin Lawrence Jan 15 '11 at 7:15
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The word "Internet" is most often used today to refer to the Internet, but it really means any network of networks. So your statement that "there is really only one network named Internet" is not really true. At my workplace we do have a couple of internets. In that usage, the word is not capitalised. Kevin Lawrence's on this page answer expains this pretty well. –  CesarGon Jan 15 '11 at 18:34
    
CesarGon and Kevin Lawrence have the right logic. For further reference (from the folks responsible for The Internet) see teleread.com/copy-right/… –  voretaq7 Sep 13 '11 at 22:17
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I think it helps to know the history of the word Internet.

When computers were first connected together the resulting configuration was called a network.

Later people connected networks together. That was called an internet.

Eventually most of the networks in the world were connected into one large internet that became known simply as the Internet.

In other words, there is a technical distinction between an internet and the Internet.

For what it is worth, my iPad wants me to capitalize Internet.

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+1 This is a technically sound answer. –  CesarGon Jan 15 '11 at 18:31
    
I kept my answers separate because I was less sure of myself with the web answer and didn't want to drag down this one where my confidence is greater. –  Kevin Lawrence Jan 15 '11 at 20:55
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The fact that Web is short for World Wide Web, Sir Tim's wonderful invention, makes me think that Web should be capitalized too.

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It's a matter of style.

The Guardian style guide uses lowercase:

internet
net, web, world wide web

web, webpage, website, world wide web

.

is there at least some consensus among the more popular style guides/dictionaries on this?

Not really. Wikipedia has a page on the topic, Internet capitalization conventions, with a section on usage:

Examples of media publications and news outlets that capitalize the term include The New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, and The Times of India. In addition, many peer-reviewed journals and professional publications such as Communications of the ACM capitalize "Internet", and this style guideline is also specified by the American Psychological Association in its electronic media spelling guide.

More recently, a significant number of publications have switched to not capitalizing the noun "internet." Among them are The Economist, the Financial Times, The Times, the Guardian, the Observer and the Sydney Morning Herald. As of 2011, most publications using "internet" appear to be located outside of North America, but the gap is closing. Wired News, an American news source, adopted the lower-case spelling in 2004. Around April 2010, CNN shifted its house style to adopt the lowercase spelling.

Wired has a 2004 piece on their decision to use internet, web and net.

Pick your own style and be consistent.

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-1 because it's not "a matter of style". The author of a so-called style guide can write whatever they like, and even impose such "style" on their minions. The Guardian does not own the English language. –  Dominic Cronin Nov 5 '12 at 22:07
    
I think it can be argued both ways: it should be capitalised because it's a proper noun / it should not be capitalised because it's become a naturalised word. –  Hugo Nov 5 '12 at 22:41
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Regarding Internet, the Wikipedia disambiguation page mentions:

The Internet is a worldwide publicly accessible system of interconnected computer networks.
Where not capitalized, internet can refer to any internetwork.

You could apply the same reasoning for Web (World Wide Web) as opposed to any "web".
Although there is still the debate about Web site vs. "website" ;)

If you consider proper noun as referring to "specific people, places, or things", Internet and "the Web" do qualify for their capitalize letter.

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"The world" refers to a specific thing, but is not a proper noun. –  Charles Stewart Nov 2 '10 at 11:53
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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, and we would happily (still) refer to the internet as simply "Internet" (which used to be an accepted style, but will likely look odd to any reader not versed in the history of the internet).

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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I'm not clear as to why you think "the" makes Internet less likely to be a proper noun. "a queen", but "the Queen". –  Dominic Cronin Nov 5 '12 at 22:10
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protected by RegDwigнt Jun 24 '12 at 12:48

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