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Example:

Northern College's senior administration is considering a $100 million investment in campus infrastructure. Alumni groups have objected, citing a record of poor stewardship of the College's limited resources in the past. The administration contends that a review of similar spending among peer colleges in the Consortium for Greater Learning justifies the proposal.

Here, "Northern College" is the full proper noun, and there is no controversy that both words should be capitalized. However, I am less clear on whether subsequent mentions of this proper noun, and in particular in situations where the definite article form is used to refer to the proper noun ("the College") is correct.

It seems that, since the definite article form is a stand-in for a specific proper noun, capitalization is appropriate. But I don't know if this is a style question, or is governed by specific rules. The subsequent use ("peer colleges") clearly does not refer to a specific proper noun, and so falls squarely into the non-capitalized category.

Other, similar questions here seem to indicate that this style of noun capitalization is common in legal writing, but perhaps is less common or appropriate outside of that context.

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  • Hi, and welcome to ELU. Please take the tour. I don't know of a rule, and expect usage to vary according to individual preferences, local styles, and opinions.
    – Davo
    Nov 20 '20 at 15:01
  • Although When do you capitalize a reference to a specific instance of a general concept? is formulated as a question about legal usage (and so this is not, strictly speaking, its duplicate), one is unlikely to go wrong by following the same practice in other contexts (unless one is required to follow a specific style manual that provides otherwise).
    – jsw29
    Nov 20 '20 at 22:58
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I would err on the side of caution and use the legal style. Here's an example of where this would be useful.

Northern College's senior administration is considering a $100 million investment in campus infrastructure. Alumni groups have objected, citing a record of poor stewardship of the College's limited resources. However the college legislation recently introduced by the government will probably favour the College's administrators.

Factually nonsense but you can see that the use of upper and lower case allow us to distinguish the general from the particular.

Having said that, I'm sure different publishers will include a ruling this in their style guides.

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  • Some lawyers would, however, dispense with the definite article in front of the capitalised College, on the ground that the capitalisation makes the word function as a proper name, within the confines of that particular document, which renders the definite article redundant. They would thus write either 'will probably favour College's administrators' or 'will probably favour the college's administrators'.
    – jsw29
    Nov 20 '20 at 23:05

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