In my thesis I am writing about a number of different metrics. Not metrics in the mathematical sense, but metrics which are measures, functions. A function which takes an input and returns a symolic value.

There are different metrics, most of them are taken from other papers, some are my own invention. They are based on adjectives:

  • completeness
  • weighted completeness
  • richness of information
  • accessibility
  • accuracy
  • ...

Obviously, these words are nouns, but are these proper nouns, too? My guess is yes, because they are very specific and they are not general known in a lot of areas, but a comparable small research field.

Examples of their usage can be found in this PhD thesis. There it was used in both ways: capitalized and lowercase. Apparently, in composition with metric lowercase and without capitalized.

“While straightforward, the simple completeness metric does not reflect how humans measure the completeness of a instance.”

— p.112 [87]

“For the Weighted Completeness, also a table containing the pre-calculated alpha values should be available”

— p.113 [88]

What is correct?

  • 1
    Do you mean appropriate nouns or proper nouns?
    – apaderno
    Sep 26, 2013 at 12:50
  • I mean proper nouns. This is a matter of capitalization. Sep 26, 2013 at 12:51
  • 4
    In your specific context, you can define anything you want as a proper noun. It is entirely up to you whether you wish to define these as nouns and capitalise them, or whether you wish to see them as regular, generic nouns with a specific meaning. Using them as proper nouns when used as heads and generic nouns when used as noun adjuncts, as in your example, seems quite an odd distinction to make, though. Sep 26, 2013 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


I am not a professional thesis writer but my opinion is that any sufficiently technical term can be capitalized for the sake of clarity as the author sees fit. This is very common in Philosophy when concepts and ideas are capitalized to distinguish them from standard linguistic usage:

Therefore, there is no such thing as Love.

This resolves the apparent Identity Paradox.

Humankind's dependency on the existence of Evil in order to properly identify the qualities of Good are [...]

An appropriate rule of thumb is to ask the question, "Can this term get confused with a different idea formed from the individual words used by the term?" Or, more simply, would your particular audience read "For the weighted completeness" and "For the Weighted Completeness" as having separate meanings?

If so, you should capitalize your terms. If not, then it doesn't matter what you do.

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