Every time I write the word ‘internet”, I wonder if it should be capitalized. I see it written both ways, but have never formed an opinion…until now. Yesterday, I did a Google search to get the definitive answer. Here, in part, is what I found:

Historically, “Internet” has been treated as a proper noun; hence, the capital “I”. Internet is capitalized by almost all Internet organizations, such as the Internet Society, the Internet Engineering Task Force IETF, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ICANN, the World Wide Web Consortium.

Should this convention remain? As far back as 1999, many felt the capital “I” should be dropped, citing past technologies such as the phonograph…once capitalized when invented, but soon adopted as un-capitalized, as the technology became commonplace. The source for this article states, “…critics argue that some things that are unique yet distributed, such as “the power grid”, “the telephone network”, and even “the sky”, are not considered proper nouns, and are thus not capitalized.”

These days, “Internet” is used as both a noun and an adjective, as in “internet links”, or “internet resources.” Some say perhaps the word should be capitalized when used as a noun, but not when used as an adjective. That seems even more confusing!

GrammarGirl notes, “Is the Internet one specific place or is it a collection of things? Most language experts including the Associated Press and the editors of the Chicago Manual of Style and the Yahoo Style Guide, believe the Internet is one big specific network that people visit, so they recommend capitalizing the word “Internet.”

But That’s Not All…

This line of thinking leads me to another perplexing word: “web site.” Capital “W”? Lower case “w”? One word? Two? Which you prefer seems more a matter of style than a hard and fast rule. Again, we turn to GrammarGirl for the lowdown:

“The World Wide Web is made up of all the files that are accessible on the Internet by using the HTTP protocol. It is not the same thing as the Internet. The Yahoo Style Guide and the Associated Press recommend capitalizing “Web” when it stands alone, but in the new 16th edition update, the Chicago Manual of Style editors changed their minds and started allowing “web” to be lowercase.”

As copywriters, these small nuances of English language can be quite important when working with clients.

Which versions of these words do you prefer, and why?