Editorial question: should Internet be spelt with a cap ‘I’ or a lower case ‘i’?

The Macquarie Dictionary is the standard used for spelling in Australia

The Macquarie Dictionary is the standard used for spelling in Australia

As an editor writing for print and the web, I have been asked many times about how to write Internet – with a cap ‘I’ or a lower case ‘i’.

In Australia, the source of all wisdom on such matters is the Macquarie Dictionary which advocates Internet with a cap ‘I’. They don’t give a reason why so here’s my reasoning why this is the correct way of writing the word.

Capitals are used for the names of things or people. Sydney is capitalized because it is the name of a city. I suggest that, while the Internet is not a geographic location, it is the name of a place of sorts and for this reason, cap ‘I’ should be used.

Another way of testing if something should be capitalized or not is to see what happens in the plural form. Sydney is the place so the concept of Sydneys does not work (even though there is another Sydney in Canada). Likewise, we don’t talk about internets as there is only one, the Internet.

For these reasons, I advocate the use of Internet with a cap ‘I’. However, others may prefer the lower case ‘internet’ for their own reasons.

Whatever you use, cap ‘I’ or lowercase ‘i’, be consistent and stick with one or the other.

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