The goal of this section is to analyse the features introduced in Section 3 for boilerplate detection.

In books and papers, we see "Figure 1", "Chapter 2", "Section 1", "Table 2". Why are they capitalized?

From my searching, this is recommended by academia, but what is the grammar for it - why no article? Can such things be regarded as proper names? For example we don't say Page 10. I don't think it's a duplicate as I asked for the reason for it.

  • Section 3 is probably the title of said part of the book/magazine/article, and therefore the writer capitalizes the word to make sure that readers realize that.
    – Michael
    Aug 19, 2015 at 12:38
  • A question like this really should include at least a mention of some research that you have done – even if you were unable find an answer. In this case, I think Section 3 is considered a title within the paper.
    – J.R.
    Aug 19, 2015 at 12:48
  • @J.R. I improved it a bit and asked for description of the grammar.
    – Ahmad
    Aug 19, 2015 at 12:57
  • 1
    This is not a question of grammar, but of style, and different authorities will provide slightly different guidelines on what to capitalize and when. See Chapter, sections, etc. in capital letters? as well as at EL&U, What are the capitalization rules for in-document references in scientific papers?.
    – choster
    Aug 19, 2015 at 14:46
  • @choster it involves grammar too, why they don't take any article? I even didn't know such things can be regarded as proper names!
    – Ahmad
    Aug 19, 2015 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


Collocations of the form division-name + number—Volume II, Book 2, Chapter Four, Section 3, Illustration C—are capitalized because they are taken to be names of the entities they refer to, as may be seen from the fact that (just like personal names) they take determiners only when modified by preposed adnominals.

okWe find in Chapter Four that ...
okWe find in the very badly written Chapter Four that ... but not
We find in the Chapter Four that ...

Note, however, that these names for larger divisions—volume, book, chapter—should be used only if they actually appear in the source; if the entire heading on the final chapter is "Happy Endings" you shouldn't call it "Chapter Sixty".

With smaller divisions—section, subsection, paragraph, page and the like—use varies. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't use 'name' form unless the division you refer to is marked with at least a distinguishing number or letter. If this isn't further marked with an explicit division-name, you may introduce a division-name of your own, such as "section 3"; this will be treated as a name syntactically, but usually without capitalization:

We find in section 3 that . . . It is remarked on page 267 that . . .

Sometimes, however, you will find that an explicit division-name is given in another context. For instance, I am now working with a document which has thirty numbered and titled sections: "4. Quantity", "5. Weight", "6. Commodity" There are also internal references to these sections, and these take use the explicit division-name "Clause":

... in bulk, including dockage, 5% more or less at buyer's option, and at market price (per Clause 10) ...

So in my discussion I refer to these as "Clause 1", "Clause 2" and so forth.

In other sorts of collocation these designations are common nouns; they are not capitalized and take a determiner

okWe find in the fourth chapter that ...
okWe find in the very badly written chapter on framistats that ... but not
We find in fourth chapter that ...

  • While it's not specifically a reason for capitalizing or not, it's worth noting that "Section 3" is an unambiguous identifier for a section. Regardless of incidental things, like what size paper the document is printed on, the content is still in Section 3. The page number can much more easily change, however. "page 45" is only unambiguous in a particular printed representation, it's not really an identifier of that content. Aug 19, 2015 at 17:41
  • @JoshuaTaylor That's a neat point, which had not occurred to me - perhaps because I come to this out of LitCrit where we generally use either originals or more or less standard 'authoritative' editions. Aug 19, 2015 at 22:41
  • If I capitalise section, should I also capitalise subsection?
    – simone
    Dec 11, 2018 at 18:30

This document from MIT says (in Rule 4):

Capitalize references to specific figures, tables, chapters, sections, equations:

  • Equation 36
  • Figure 10-3
  • Appendix C
  • Then you say it is just a recommended rule, and there is not much grammar behind it, except that they count them proper names? for example we don't say Page 10
    – Ahmad
    Aug 19, 2015 at 14:01
  • 1
    This is only one possible style. Other style guides may differ on the matter.
    – choster
    Aug 19, 2015 at 14:39
  • For example, The Chicago Manual of Style specifies that all those words go in lower cases.
    – Rufo
    Nov 29, 2016 at 23:28

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