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I'm proofing language for a proposed statute change and am confused about whether or not the word Program needs to be capitalized throughout the document.

Lots of questions...

A Health Professionals Services Program Committee is established.

Question: The program name is Health Professional Services Program. Should the word Committee be capitalized? The actual name of the committee is Program Committee so to me, the sentence doesn't even make sense as it is written.

Similar question...

Members of the advisory committee... The advisory committee consists of:...

The name of this committee is Advisory Committee. Should it be capitalized?

Final Question... Should the word Program be capitalized throughout the document where it is being used in place of the name "Health Professionals Services Program" ?

IE:

If the board designated to provide administrative management of the program changes, any appropriation remaining for the program shall transfer to the newly designated board on the effective date of the change.

  • (1) If it's not part of the title, no (but as you say, the correct title is 'Program Committee' which is shortened to 'Committee' not 'committee' when used as a synonym). (2) Yes; it gets messy using common nouns and proper nouns together. (3) More open to discussion, but I'd stick with the capital. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 10 '15 at 21:40
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It's important to understand what a "proper noun" is. Basically, it's an identifier for a specific person ("Fred"), place ("Paris"), or entity ("United Nations").

"Person" and "place" are fairly easy to understand, but "entity" can get a little confusing. You could, in theory, have a committee for "health professional services" (whatever that is) without ever assigning it a formal name (it might simply be referred to as "the committee chaired by Frank Jones"). In this case there is no "proper noun" to identify the committee. Or you might decide to name it the "Wednesday Afternoon Caucus" (for some screwy historical reason), or you might actually choose "Health Professional Services Committee".

Having chosen a name, you might, in some protracted texts, want to give the committee a "nickname" (just as "John Smith" is perversely nicknamed "Jack"). In most cases the chosen "nickname" is either an acronym ("HPSC") or some shortened form of the formal name (eg, "Services Committee" or simply "Committee"). As with human nicknames, organizational nicknames are treated as proper nouns and capitalized.

But with a "nickname" such as "Committee", however, one needs to be careful to distinguish between the use of the word as a nickname and the use of the word as a generic reference. Eg, if there is a separate "advisory committee", that is typically a generic reference, even though "Committee" is being used in the document as a nickname for the HPSC. In this case using upper and lower case properly helps distinguish which meaning is intended.

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You need not capitalize "program". However I would suggest you designate an acronym - and first initialize it thus: Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP). Use this rather than the word "program", unless it becomes so repetitive to make it awkward. Then only use "program" when you are sure the reader knows to what you are referring. "Committee" is also unnecessary to capitalize unless you spell out the entire name. This is true for "advisory committee" also.

Further, if you have two committees; an advisory committee and a program committee; I would always use those terms. However the differences and relationships between the program committee and advisory committee are ambiguous. I would use "HPSP Committee" (capitalized here because it is used with the capitalized acronym) and "advisory committee" throughout. I assume that the advisory committee is a subcommittee of the HPSP Committee. Perhaps you need to make this clear as well.

Lastly - a board too? You don't mean the committee? If so - you better name the board (Medical Services Board, for example) and then make sure that that the word "board" is is unambiguous throughout the document.

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