Capitalization in WoW: Proper vs. Common Nouns

This is tricky, it’s taken me over a year to get a handle on it. Now that I do, I want to share the rule with you fine folks that are helping review and edit my posts, catching ones I let fall through the cracks. It is not a black-and-white rule, as I always assumed; you do not capitalize the name of a class in WoW in all contexts.

These rules apply to class (priest, druid, death knight, etc.) as well as race (orc, night elf, draenei, etc.)


In almost every case, the class name is not capitalized. This should be the default capitalization rule when in doubt, as it is simply a pronoun:

“The druid stood up in the middle of the raid, began to hearth, and
was back in Shattrath City vendoring off his raid gear.”

While it is true that Druid is a very-specific proper name for one of the playable classes in WoW, in the context of this sentence it is only a common noun; it acts as a generic label for a particular type of player. “The death knight gripped”, “A priest spammed guild-chat”, and “Some crazy rogue acted like a tyrant”. None of these sentences should capitalize the name of the class. If you could swap out “player” for the-class-name, it shouldn’t be capitalized.

Also, against my better judgement, I no longer believe that identifying a person/character by their combination of race and class warrants capitalization.


“Kadrok was a Tauren Shaman who kidnapped small children.”


“Kadrok was a tauren shaman who kidnapped small children.”

If the unique combination of a race and class defined the name of a title, then it would be capitalized, similar to many of the government titles held in the senate and house.


If it is used preceding a player’s name (as a superficial title), it should be capitalized:

“The Druid Dalans had a short temper and a shorter tolerance for

If it is used as a unique identifier that could not be swapped out with “player” and convey the same meaning, it should be capitalized:

“If we had any hope of battle rezzing on a consistent basis, I was
going to have to bring a Druid.”

If the name of the class is being used as a substitute to directly address a person, thereby acting as a replacement for their name (a proper noun), it should be capitalized:

Alright, Paladin…are you going to heal correctly this time around?

If the class name is paired with a talent specialization, when used as the central of focus of the sentence, it denotes a unique role or title, eg. the name of the role that’s being played, and should therefore be capitalized:

“I was going to require the expertise of a Restoration Shaman in
order to pull this tactic off.”

However, when used as a generic label to refer to/describe a person, it loses the capitalization (as it did in the above Kadrok example)

“The restoration shaman dropped his totem a moment too soon, and
Hydross became his new best friend.”

If referring to the official name of a unique title someone holds in the guild, it is capitalized:

“Annihilation served as the guild’s Warrior Officer for the
duration of Vanilla.”

This is contrasted with using the title as a substitute for the personal pronoun as the subject of the sentence, which should not be capitalized,

“I was going to have to check back with my warrior officer to
determine Omaric’s eligibility.”

Contribute thoughts/feedback/corrections as needed.

I still think race should be capitalized. At least, in my experience, we still capitalize Asian, Caucasian, African American, etc no matter the context.

Even though the example you used with Kadrok is a common noun, Tauren should still be capitalized

I thought so, too…until:

  1. Exhibit A: A conversation between Community Manager Zarhym and myself on the subject from last November.

  2. Exhibit B: Example text from a Christie Golden novel. Note the lower-casing of both ‘human’ and ‘orc’ in the text.

I reached out to several community managers, and Christie herself, to try to get some confirmation. No dice, as of yet.

Well, I’ll say that while Zarhym made an interesting point about the races technically being different species, I disagree. WoW doesn’t differentiate based on species even if it does make logical, real-world sense.

Tauren, Orc, Human, Troll are definitive categories because they differentiate Peoples (as in the unification of one race or nations). Much to the same manner that we depict ourselves as American, or Canadian, they are Tauren, Orc, Human, Troll, Pandaren, etc. It just so happens this also applies to their Race.

Frankly, look in-game. See how WoW does it, and use their example. I’m pretty sure races are always capitalized, even in dialogue and quest panes. It’s been a while since I’ve been in-game so I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Noted, but you also didn’t acknowledge any of the official writing that’s been done by authors, such as the one I linked; namely Christie Golden. What say you in that respect?

I read the excerpt on Amazon from the book, and I see the section you mentioned. I’ll say that I agree that it’s correct to use “human” in that context, which I think would extrapolate to the other races because she doesn’t seem to be using the species in the same sense as I described (describing species typically are not capitalized; the genus is). In that sentence she’s describing general life-forms, which despite being specified in their variance, are not discrete nations, or races as I was suggesting. I can certainly consider myself human, but I’m still Caucasian or American (if that makes any sense).

Frankly, it may be something much simpler: perhaps they are both grammatically correct, and the author is simply choosing a particular convention.