The Capitalization of Web

By Eric Wirth

“The World Wide Web” is the name of a unique entity and is thus written with initial capital letters. “The Web” is the short form of the name. In MLA publications, the capitalization is retained in the short form for the same reason that, for example, baseball fans refer to the San Francisco Giants as “the Giants,” not “the giants.” Lowercasing these short forms would imply that the Giants were literally giants and the Web was literally a web. Rather, the names are metaphors. (Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, originally considered calling it the Mesh and the Mine of Information—names based on other metaphors [23].)

The familiarity of the name has no bearing on this question. No matter how often sportswriters refer to “the Giants,” they’re never tempted to shift to “the giants,” because the metaphoric basis of the term is inescapable.

Work Cited

Berners-Lee, Tim, with Mark Fischetti. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor. HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.

Published 29 February 2016

5 comments on “The Capitalization of Web

  1. RE: Format of Work Cited Entry for This Response

    Indent 1/2 inch lines two and three of the work cited entry shown above?

  2. Has the AP’s decision to no longer capitalize internet and web impacted the MLA’s use of capitalization with these two words?

  3. Thanks for the information that Internet is still capitalized in MLA 8th edition – but can that information be placed more prominently somewhere on the site? I had to dig rather deep into the site to find this (and I can’t find it in the handbook). I can’t be the only one who’s searched on this issue.

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