Whether to capitalize “high school” is a common writing dilemma. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In most cases, “high school” should be capitalized when referring to a specific school.

However, it’s not capitalized when used generally to refer to schooling between middle school and college.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover when and why to capitalize “high school” with plenty of examples. We’ll look at capitalization in various contexts like proper names, titles, publications, and more. Read on for a 3000 word deep dive into the capitalization rules around this common term!

Capitalize High School in Proper Names

When it comes to capitalizing the term “high school,” there are a few rules to keep in mind. One of the main considerations is whether it is part of a proper name or a general reference. In this section, we will explore how to capitalize “high school” in different contexts.

The full proper name of a school

When referring to the full proper name of a high school, it is important to capitalize the term “high school.” For example, if the name of the school is “Hillside High School,” both “Hillside” and “High School” should be capitalized.

This applies whether you are writing the name of the school in a sentence or a heading.

Shortened versions and nicknames

However, if you are referring to a shortened version or a nickname of a high school, the capitalization rules may vary. In general, if the word “high school” is used as part of the nickname or shortened version, it should be capitalized.

For instance, if “Hillside High School” is commonly referred to as “HHS,” the term “High School” should still be capitalized.

Plural forms

When writing about multiple high schools in a general sense, the term “high schools” should be written in lowercase. For example, you would write “There are many high schools in the area” without capitalizing “high schools.”

However, if you are referring to a specific group of high schools with a proper name, the term “High Schools” should be capitalized. For instance, if there is an organization called “California High Schools Association,” the term “High Schools” would be capitalized.

For more information on capitalization rules, you can refer to style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook.

Don’t Capitalize High School Generically

When it comes to capitalizing the term “high school,” it’s important to follow the proper grammar rules. In general, high school should not be capitalized when referring to schooling levels in a generic sense.

Referring to schooling levels in general

When discussing different levels of education, such as elementary school, middle school, and high school, it is not necessary to capitalize these terms. For example, you would write “She attended elementary school, middle school, and high school in her hometown.”

By following these grammar rules, you can ensure that your writing is accurate and consistent. It also helps maintain clarity and readability for your readers.

After articles like “a” or “the”

Another instance where “high school” does not need to be capitalized is when it follows articles like “a” or “the.” For example, you would write “He is a high school student” or “She went to the high school down the street.”

It’s important to remember that capitalizing “high school” in these situations would be grammatically incorrect. By adhering to the proper grammar rules, you can enhance the credibility and professionalism of your writing.

For more information on grammar rules and capitalization, you can refer to trusted grammar websites such as Grammarly or Quick and Dirty Tips.

Capitalize High School in Titles

When it comes to capitalizing the term “high school” in titles, it’s important to follow the proper rules of capitalization. This guide will provide you with an in-depth understanding of when and how to capitalize “high school” in various contexts.

Titles of works, departments, and courses

When including the term “high school” in titles of works, such as books or movies, it should generally be capitalized. For example, “The Adventures of Jane: A High School Romance” or “High School Musical.”

Capitalizing “high school” in these instances helps to emphasize its significance as a central theme or setting in the work.

Similarly, when referring to specific departments or courses within a high school, “high school” should be capitalized. For instance, “The Mathematics Department at Central High School” or “Advanced Chemistry Course at Jefferson High School.”

This capitalization helps to distinguish these specific entities within the larger educational institution.

Newspaper and magazine titles

When it comes to newspaper and magazine titles, the capitalization of “high school” can vary. Some publications may choose to capitalize it, while others may not. It’s important to consult the specific style guide or editorial guidelines of the publication in question for guidance.

For example, “The High School Herald” or “The Daily Gazette: High School Edition.”

Additionally, it’s worth noting that if “high school” is used generically in a title without being part of a specific proper noun, it may not necessarily be capitalized. For instance, “10 Tips for Surviving High School” or “The Importance of Extracurricular Activities in High School.”

Remember, proper capitalization is essential for maintaining clarity and adhering to grammatical conventions. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that “high school” is capitalized appropriately in various titles.

More Examples of When to Capitalize

In publications produced by the school

One instance where it is appropriate to capitalize “high school” is when it is used in publications produced by the school itself. This includes official documents, newsletters, yearbooks, and any other materials that are created and distributed by the school.

For example, if a high school is publishing a brochure about its academic programs, it would be correct to capitalize “high school” in that context.

In mailing addresses

Another situation where “high school” should be capitalized is when it is used as part of a mailing address. This is because mailing addresses typically follow specific formatting guidelines, which often include capitalizing certain words for clarity and consistency.

For example, if a student is sending a letter to their high school, they would write the address as follows:

  • John Smith
  • 123 Main Street
  • Anytown, USA 12345
  • Anytown High School

In this case, “Anytown High School” is capitalized to ensure that the mailing address is clear and accurate.

For emphasis or contrast

Sometimes, “high school” may be capitalized for emphasis or contrast in a sentence. This is not a hard and fast rule, but rather a stylistic choice. For example, if someone is comparing their experiences in high school to their experiences in college, they might write:

“High school was a time of self-discovery, but College is where I truly found myself.”

In this case, capitalizing “High school” and “College” adds emphasis to the comparison being made.

It’s important to note that these guidelines may vary depending on the style guide being followed. Different style guides, such as the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style, may have specific rules regarding capitalization.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to consult the appropriate style guide for your writing needs.

Summary of Rules and Exceptions

Capitalization rules can be confusing, especially when it comes to words like “high school.” In this guide, we will provide a summary of the rules and exceptions for capitalizing the term “high school” so that you can write with confidence.

General Rule

The general rule for capitalizing “high school” is to treat it as a common noun and use lowercase letters. For example, you would write “I attended high school in my hometown.”


However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule. Here are some instances where you would capitalize “high school”:

  • Specific School Name: When referring to the name of a specific high school, you would capitalize it. For example, “I went to Lincoln High School.”
  • Formal Titles: When “high school” is part of a formal title, it should be capitalized. For instance, “She was the Principal of Central High School.”
  • Official Documents: If you are writing official documents like transcripts or diplomas, it is common to capitalize “high school” for consistency and formality.

Why the Exceptions?

The exceptions to the general rule exist to provide clarity and emphasize the importance of specific high schools and formal titles. Capitalizing the name of a high school distinguishes it from other high schools and shows respect for its identity.

It’s important to note that these rules and exceptions may vary depending on the style guide you are following. For example, the Associated Press (AP) style does not capitalize “high school” in any instance, while some academic style guides may have different rules.

For more detailed information on capitalization rules, you can refer to reputable style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook.

Now that you have a better understanding of when to capitalize “high school,” you can confidently write and communicate with proper capitalization.


Whether to capitalize “high school” depends a lot on the context. In general, capitalize it when referring to a specific school name or using it in a title. But don’t capitalize it when using it generically to describe a school level.

Keep these main rules in mind when deciding whether to capitalize “high school”.

Understanding when to capitalize this common term can improve your writing style. While it takes practice, you’ll soon capitalize “high school” correctly by instinct in all sorts of contexts. If you’re ever unsure, remember that capitalizing a specific high school’s name is almost always correct.

With this comprehensive guide, you can confidently determine when to capitalize “high school” in your writing.

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