Are scientific laws, theories, and terms capitalized?
The MLA follows The Chicago Manual of Style in recommending that scientific laws, theories, and terms be lowercased except when preceded by a proper adjective (ch. 8, sec. 148). We also consult Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for spelling, which generally adheres to Chicago’s principle. The following provides examples:
Laws, Theories, and Terms with Proper Adjectives
Einstein’s general theory of relativity
Fermat’s last theorem
Newton’s first law of motion
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle
Laws, Theories, and Terms without Proper Adjectives
general theory of relativity
big bang theory
law of definite proportions
conservation of mass
1Merriam-Webster lowercases “euclidean” in “euclidean geometry” but also notes that the e in “euclidean” is “often capitalized” (“Euclidean Geometry”). Either form would be acceptable in MLA style.
The Chicago Manual of Style. U of Chicago P, 2021, www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.
“Euclidean Geometry, N.” Merriam-Webster, 2021, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/euclidean%20geometry.