The word "barbershop"

barber shop -- Two words are used only in the Society name or when referring to the business establishment "barber shop"
Barbershop -- One-word form is used in all cases related to our music organization and singing style. The only exception is in the Society name when written in full. The Laws and Regulations Committee has recommended that the word be capitalized because it is a distinctive label for our organization, carrying almost the weight of a trademark or copyrighted name.
Barbershopper -- Always capitalize when used as a title before a proper name: Barbershopper Joe Dugan. The L&R Committee recommends it be capitalized in other instances as well.
Barberpole Cat -- A program for learning basic barbershop songs. Also, a person who has been certified in the program by demonstrating his ability to sing his part in all of the Barberpole Cat songs. Do not spell the phrase Barber Polecat or just as Polecat, which refers to a skunk.

Other Barbershop terms

Concerning other words unique to our organization, the following four words should be capitalized only when each is used as a shortened expression to stand for the full organizational name.

Board refers to the International Board of Directors
Foundation refers to Harmony Foundation
Heartspring refers to our service organization, formerly the Institute of Logopedics
Society refers to the Barbershop Harmony Society


The Society requires all contest music to be legal.
We visited Heartspring last summer while attending the international convention.
I belong to the Barbershop Harmony Society.
The Board heard the report on the future of the Society.

Capitalize common nouns such as chapter, district, president or other office, or committee only when each is used as part of the name of a person or unit. Do not capitalize these words when each stands alone.

Hidden Hills Chapter is famous for being the home of District President Abner Haynes and Secretary John Smythe. Curently, the chapter does not have any district chorus championships to its credit. The chapter's nominating committee is hard at work seeking a qualified person for treasurer.

The words chapter and district are not capitalized when used in a series of two or more.

The Tacoma and Seattle chapters met to discuss hosting an international convention.

The Evergreen and Sunshine districts showed the greatest membership gain last year.

Capitalize the word international in the following two instances:

  1. When referring to a specific convention for which the word International is used as a shortened form. Always use the full title of the convention the first time in the text and then the shortened form for subsequent use.
  2. When referring to the International Board of Directors.

All other uses of international should be lower case.

The Society encourages new members to attend the 56th International Convention, which will beheld in Pittsburgh, Pa. At that time the International Board of Directors will meet to select a new executive director.

Because of confusion that may result from non-capitalization of international when the word is used as an adjective, substitute Society whenever possible.

Several Society officials will be present at the international convention to discuss relocation of Society headquarters.

The same rule applies to the word "midwinter": capitalize both parts of the non-hyphenated word when it refers to a specific convention; do not capitalize the word when it refers to a general seasonal meeting.

The Sarasota Midwinter Convention was the best attended in years. However, the Society is rethinking the value of holding midwinter conventions.

Personal office titles are capitalized only when preceding a name.

Executive Director Darryl Flinn will conduct the mass sing.
Darryl Flinn is the executive director of the Society.
Communications Specialist Brian Lynch will be sending out new PROBE manuals in the next few months.
Brian Lynch is a communications specialist in the Society.


The new Society service project was designed with this rather unusual method of presentation: No spaces between words and with the proper nouns America and Canada properly capitalized.

Other capitalization rules

Proper nouns and adjectives

Owen C. CashDixieland jazz
Kenosha, Wisconsin Gregorian chant
Harmony CollegeIrish ballad
Heritage of Harmony Swedish meatballs

Notice in the second column that only the first word (the adjective) is capitalized because it derives from a proper noun. The second word is not capitalized because it can stand alone as a generic noun. Words in the first column are capitalized because each is considered a whole unit acting as a single concept. Capitalize names of languages, races, nationalities, religions, and the adjectives that are derived from each.

Geographical Names

Lake ErieDakota Badlands
Salt Lake CityGrand Canyon
New Jersey TurnpikeSoutheastern Alaska

First word of a sentence

His love of singing is evident.

First word of a direct quotation

He yelled, "Sing on key!"

A.D., B.C., the pronoun I and the interjection O

Names of sections of the country but not directions on the compass

The South has produced many fine composers.
The contest auditorium is south of the hotel.

Names and Titles

Capitalize important words in the names of organizations, judging categories, committees, buildings, firms, schools, churches, and other institutions. Do not capitalize coordinating conjunctions or prepositions. Capitalize initial articles (a, an, the) only if each appears as the first word in a name or title. In quartet or chorus names, capitalize articles and prepositions only if each is part of the group's official name.

Vocal MajorityHarmony Hall
HeartspringChiefs of Staff
Harmony MarketplaceMasters of Harmony

Capitalize words that show rank, office, or profession if each is used as part of a person's name (usually preceding the name). Capitalize the name of a family relationship when it is used as part of a person's name.

Professor Warren Dewey taught choral arrangement at Berkeley. He is the senior professor in the music department.
Police Chief Mac Warren is planning to retire. This will mean the city needs to hire a new chief of police.
Uncle Harry is the only one of my uncles to have served in Vietnam.

The word judge is not capitalized unless used as a title.

He is a Presentation Category judge.
Presentation Judge Al Baker gave the quartet a perfect score.


Capitalize the first word and every important word in titles of books, stories, plays, poems, motion pictures, works of art, and musical compositions. (See also Italics and Quotations)

My Life in Barbershopping
Meet the Press
Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River"
Gainsborough's "Blue Boy"
"Sweet and Lovely"
"The Mem'ry of Love That Is Gone"

Days of the week and seasons

Capitalize the names of the days of the week, months, and holidays. Do not capitalize the names of the seasons.

George M. Cohan was born on Tuesday, July 4, Independence Day, during the summer of 1878.
Contest time always sneaks up on us during the busy spring and fall months. That's why I wish our annual show wasn't held two weeks before spring contest.


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