If I want to mention Ministry of Health in the middle of a sentence should I capitalize initials or not. For example:

Thanks to the German Ministry of Health


Thanks to the German ministry of health

2 Answers 2


This is a tricky one.

If the actual name of the ministry was THE GERMAN MINISTRY OF HEALTH, then you should capitalise it.

In fact it is most unlikely to contain the word German and it is equally unlikely to be in English. In all probability it is something like Gesundheitsministerium. So, in effect, you are either translating the name or describing the function of a German ministry. In such cases capitalisation would not be required. However, if I were writing a letter in English to the ministry, with its name and address at the top of the page, I would make an exception.

In this instance my inclination would be NOT to capitalise as I don't think it meets the criteria.

You might get further guidance on when to capitalise from sites such as the one below.


  • 1
    I'm not sure I would agree with this; my "gut feeling" is that if the native name can reasonably be translated into English as "Ministry of Health", it would be proper in English to capitalize it. As an example, when the Soviet Комитет государственной безопасности wasn't referred to as "the KGB" in English, it was always capitalized as Committee for State Security, the English translation of the Russian name. Feb 5, 2020 at 12:02
  • As you might gather, in this instance I'm not sure that I agree with myself. While health is relatively straightforward, another department might well be known as the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Home Office and so on. Which leads to question marks over capitalised translations. Feb 5, 2020 at 16:10
  • I think the rule of thumb that I would use is "If you're using the phrase as the name of the ministry/department/etc., capitalize it - thus, if talking about a hypothetical Ministerium für bürokratische Operationen for the German Federal Republic, it would be proper to translate it, capitalized, as the German Ministry for Bureaucratic Operations - in this case, however, German isn't part of the name; it's the national adjective, being used to distinguish it from its British, French, Dutch, etc., counterpart., Feb 5, 2020 at 17:50
  • If, on the other hand, you were discussing a hypothetical department that handles bureaucratic operations as part of its remit, but which wasn't called the Department of Bureaucratic Operations, you'd refer to it in lowercase, the "bureaucratic operations ministry". Feb 5, 2020 at 17:54

Primarily this question is a matter of style. Some style guides (eg The Economist) avoid capitalisation except where absolutely essential to avoid ambiguity.

Unless your chosen style guide tells you otherwise, my opinion is that you could safely refer to "the German ministry of health" in writing about, for example, the response of various national health ministries to some problem (such as coronavirus).

But if you wanted to comment on some particular feature of that ministry then you might say " the Gesundheitsministerium (German ministry of health) have always favoured vaccination [or whatever it is you want to say specifically about that organisation]".

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