Should the “f” in Facebook be capitalized? The icon, logo and brand identity of this popular social networking site use the lowercase letter. Brilliant marketing by breaking the style rule. But what is a copyeditor to do?

Of course, I googled it. (Notice as a verb, Google is not capitalized). My research revealed lots of posts and comments regarding the marketing genius behind NOT capitalizing Facebook. No single authoritative answer emerged on whether to capitalize.

Big letters. Little letters. A big lowercase F. Confusing?

So I consulted The University of Chicago Style Manual. This tome is a treasure trove of rules regarding punctuation, grammar and all things copyediting.  Now in its 16th edition, it is available online for a subscription fee.  On the website I found you can follow the University of Chicago Style Manual on Facebook, but you can’t find a quick and definitive answer to the question, should the f in Facebook be capitalized.

I remember back in the 1980s when I completed my dissertation at The University of Chicago, that I quaked in my Birkenstocks when I had to meet Kate Turabian to review the final version of my manuscript. Turabian’s Guide to Writing is a freshmen level version of the most important rules to the Chicago styleguide. Back then the debates were over the serial comma and I had to insert more than a few.

Since then, I’ve copyedited more than my share of manuscripts following the Chicago style. Some rules have changed in the last 20 years. Simple things change: only one space between sentences now. So this book with a more than two inch wide spine is always at my ready reference.

The application of copyediting style is always rule based. Consistency in application is the key.

Logic and reason are required to discern the answer regarding the capitalization of Facebook from the style manual. All proper nouns are capitalized. Facebook is a proper noun. Therefore, the F is a capital in Facebook when using the term in text to refer to the unique social networking site.

Give Facebook the capital F and Google the capital G.

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