Learn English – Capitalization of Technical Terms/Proper Nouns


There are several technical terms for which I am struggling with the capitalization, such as

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Controller Area Network (CAN)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

I am not sure when to use them capitalized and when not. For all of them I can find both versions (small and capitalized) at Google Scholar. I am not sure how established such a term should be in order to count as "proper noun" and thus has to be capitalized. Are there any rules? Would it be ok to just write all of them in small letters?

Best Answer

All of your examples should be spelled out in lowercase because they do not describe unique, one-of-a-kind elements, rather they describe a type or class of element. One way to verify is to ask if you can use an article in front of them, such a "a" or "the" or if you can make them plural; if so, then they are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized. For example, you could say the electronic stability control on my Ford works much better than the electronic stability control on my Toyota.