I'm editing a manuscript in English that contains numerous yoga terms for poses, concepts etc. These are generally derived from Sanskrit, if not actual Sanskrit transliterations. My publisher requires Chicago Style, however a search yields nothing helpful with regard to capitalization of these terms. For instance, is the word yoga itself to be capitalized? In some instances but not all? What about yoga/yoga concepts, like Dharana? Capitalized? Always? I'm in a pickle.

  • 1
    What's a "ms."?
    – Hugo
    Oct 13, 2011 at 7:27
  • Related question :(english.stackexchange.com/questions/41709/…) Oct 13, 2011 at 10:54
  • 1
    @Hugo I wondered about that too! M.S. would be Master of Science, but maybe "ms." means a master's degree in any field. A master's degree sometimes requires completion of a thesis, so I guess it is a Master's thesis written in English, but not in the field of English (Literature), because the focus is yoga. It would interesting to learn the actual facts though! Oct 14, 2011 at 8:55
  • 1
    @FeralOink (and Hugo): "ms." stands for "manuscript". This was a pretty common abbreviation, at least a few decades ago (consider e.g. Poe's MS. Found in a Bottle). Nov 11, 2011 at 13:50
  • Thank you @ShreevatsaR I wasn't thinking of it in the right context. (Or not thinking at all...) Now that you give the answer, it seems well, obvious <slight chagrin>! Nov 15, 2011 at 5:36

2 Answers 2


You mention that your publisher requires Chicago Style citations. The Chicago Manual of Style, Chapter 7: Italics and Capitalization of Foreign Words (see sections 7.49 through 7.51 specifically) gives some guidance. There are also several existing questions here and particularly here that are related, and may help.

Italicizing seems standard practice. However, capitalizing and italicizing every yoga-related term will be awkward. Based on my own quick review of this site, and what I could view without a full subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style, plus my own experience with biological taxonomy terms, I would do this:

  • Italicize all Sanskrit words that are yoga related and have not passed into common English usage.
  • Italicize AND capitalize Sanskrit yoga concepts, to delineate the difference and significance from poses.

See related Should capitalization be preserved in loanwords?

I would only capitalise them if not doing so is likely to cause offence, ie. if the word is the name of a deity. Even then, only if yoga people are the type to get violent with rage about that sort of thing ;-)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.