Is “the” capitalized?

This post currently refers to Chicago style only.

Entities and Places

Companies and institutions

Lowercase “the” in running text, even if it’s part of the official name. This will prevent you from needing to look up hundreds of company names. (16: 8.67; 17: 8.68)

They went to the Cheesecake Factory. (even though “The” is part of the official name.)

She attended the University of Texas at Austin. She studied business at the university. (even though they capitalize “The” in official company literature)

They traveled with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Note: When writing official company literature, adhere to the company style guide, in which a capitalized “The” may be preferred.

Band names

Lowercase “the” in running text even if The is part of the band name. (16: 8.167; 17: 8.68)

They opened for the Who.

I saw the Cure in concert.

Geography and places

Lowercase “the.” (16: 8.52; 17: 8.53)

the Rocky Mountains, the Rockies, the mountains

the Pacific Ocean, the ocean

Capitalize a shared generic term. (16: 8.52; 17: 8.53)

the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans

Mounts Columbia and Elbert

Countries, cities, and areas we often add “the” to

“The” is usually not part of an official country, city, or area name, even though we often say it. (16: 16.91; 17: 16.91)

the Philippines

the Netherlands

the Bronx

the Ozarks

There are two mentioned exceptions where “The” is actually a capitalized part of an official city name:

The Hague, Netherlands

The Dalles, Oregon

Note: In an index, these should be listed as Hague, The and Dalles, The.

Other cities listed in MW11 that start with “The”:

The Colony, Texas

The Villages, Florida

Note: CMS does not mention the following two countries, which are indeed listed with a capitalized “The” on official lists (unlike Philippines and Netherlands, which are not). Since they are not mentioned, I assume you could make an argument for either their capitalization or lack thereof.

The Bahamas

The Gambia

Titles of works

Newspaper, periodical, and website names: Lowercase “the” and delete it from citations.

All other titles of written and created material: Capitalize “The” and leave it in citations.

Newspapers, periodicals, websites that aren’t blogs

Lowercase “the” even if it’s part of the official title or on the masthead, as in all these examples. (16: 8.168, 8.186, 14.210; 17: 8.170, 8.191, 14.193)

Website names are set in roman (no italics or quotes), unless they are blogs (see below). When in doubt, assume it’s a website. (16: 8.186, 14.244; 17: 8.191, 14.206)

I have read the Kansas City Star newspaper for years.

It was published in the New York Times.

I read the New Yorker magazine.

It is found in the Journal of American History.

That prompted the creation of the Movie Database, found at themoviedb.org.

Citations:

In citations, drop “the” completely from titles of newspapers, periodicals, and nonblog websites. (16: 14.179, 14.210, 8.168; 17: 8.170, )

Last, First. “Article.” Journal of American History 16, no. 4 (March 1990): 12–15.

1. First Last, “Article,” New York Times, May 15, 2006.

Book titles, blog titles, movies, shows, etc.

Keep “The” capitalized and part of title. Same rules for citations. (16: 14.95, 8.185)

Books

I read The Great Gatsby.

I have a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.

Note: First word of the subtitle (after the colon) is always capitalized, including the, a, or an.

I read Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer.

Note: You may remove an initial The, A, or An from a book title if it doesn’t fit into the syntax of the sentence. (16: 8.167; 17: 8.169)

That is the most misunderstood Great Gatsby message.

Movies and shows

Keep initial The as part of the title. (16: 8.185; 17: 8.189)

I watched the movie The Lion King.

Have you ever watched the show The Office?

Blog titles

Blogs are different from websites because they consist of material written by an author or authors. They are italicized instead of set in roman. Keep initial The as part of the title. If you’re not sure whether it’s a website or a blog, treat it as a website. (16: 8.187; 17: 8.192)

She frequently updates The Civil War Blog with her latest research.

She initially wrote “The Longest Battle” for her blog, The Civil War Blog.

Articles and chapters

If it’s in quotation marks, always keep initial “The.” Same rule for citations.

In “The First Worst Thing,” Jackson explains the deterioration of modern English usage.

Pay attention to the chapter called “The Cleaner, the Better.”

Publisher names

As with other companies, lowercase “the” in running text, even if the official name begins with “the.” (16: 14.140; 17: 14.134)

Official name: The New Vision Press

It will be published by the New Vision Press.

Omit initial “The” from a publisher name in a citation.

Cameron, Rilya. Storm Approaching. New York: New Vision Press, 1996.

1. Rilya Cameron, Storm Approaching (New York: New Vision Press, 1996), 11–14.