Suppose you have a diagram in a bachelor's thesis (which is written in English) with one axis

"mean stroke count"

and the other

"standard deviation"

Should the first letter of "mean" and "standard" be uppercase?

  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about typesetting conventions, not academia. Nov 1, 2014 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


From a general survey of style books, yes, at least the first alphabet should be capitalized:

  1. American Medical Association Manual of Style: Title format (e.g. Average Consumption Index, %)
  2. Chicago Manual of Style: Sentence format (e.g. Average consumption index, %)
  3. Scientific Style and Format (Cambridge): Sentence format

An easy way to see this: axis labels are akin to the row and column titles in a table. If those titles are generally capitalized (which is the norm), then the axis title should also follow. So, I'd recommend at least follow the sentence style capitalization rule. This is not to say lower case titles are absolutely wrong, but I am sure they will raise more eyebrows in a bad way.


There's no fixed rule that applies here. You should check if the style guide the publisher to whom you are submitting the paper has a guideline. If not, feel free to use whichever convention you'd like, but be consistent throughout a given paper. Don't change from one to the other haphazardly.

In the case of a school document (thesis, etc.), your university probably has a recommended style guide; follow those guidelines instead.

  • 1
    Does a bachelor's thesis even have a publisher?
    – Floris
    Oct 31, 2014 at 19:44
  • @Floris: It doesn't really matter that it's a bachelor's thesis.
    – aeismail
    Oct 31, 2014 at 21:21
  • My point was that there most likely is no "publisher's style guide", as the question is not about a paper being submitted for publication. But that was how you phrased your answer. You gave a good answer to a slightly different question.
    – Floris
    Oct 31, 2014 at 21:23
  • 1
    @Floris: Fair enough; I've edited the answer to handle the situation here.
    – aeismail
    Oct 31, 2014 at 21:25

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