[latin grammar filter] Summa or summa? Laude or laude?
May 22, 2008 1:40 PM   Subscribe

How do you properly capitalize "summa cum laude" on a diploma?

When printed on a diploma, how should the phrase "summa cum laude" be capitalized? Should the phrase "magna cum laude" be capitalized differently? If this answer does exist on the internets, I can't find it. LanguageHat, where are you? Why didn't I pay more attention in High School Latin??
posted by deejay jaydee to Education (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Academic honors should written entirely in lower case -- they're just phrases ("with honor," "with great honor," etc.), not proper nouns, so they don't need to be capitalized. Some institutions might italicize them, but I'd consider that wrong -- they're in the dictionary as common terms in English, so setting them off with italics isn't really necessary.

I could swear this is in the Chicago Manual of Style, but for a million dollars I'm not finding it right now, so can't give a proper citation. But in any case, it should be written like this:

Jane Smith, summa cum laude [or cum laude, or magna cum laude]
posted by scody at 2:08 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well... in Latin it's technically something like SVMMACVMLAVDE and MAGNACVMLAVDE. I think I remember seeing it done like this on an Ivy League diploma (Columbia?), but with the spaces.

Personally, I'd just make it consistent with any other phrase on the diploma.
posted by sbutler at 2:09 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

lower case.
posted by languagehat at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

My diploma, which is written entirely in Latin, reads "Magna Cum Laude", while my husband's reads "Summa cum laude".
posted by xsquared-1 at 3:39 PM on May 22, 2008

My diploma reads "Baccalaureae in Artibus magna cum laude"

FWIW, this phrase, the proper names of the recipient and college president, and the date are the only places where lower case letters appear on the diploma.
posted by weebil at 4:38 PM on May 22, 2008

Mine reads "Summa cum laude". It's also signed by Gov. Schwartzeneggar, whom I have heard is both a spelling maven and a stickler for proper elocution.
posted by HotPatatta at 5:47 PM on May 22, 2008

It's being used as an adverb. My advice would be to capitalize it if the verb it's attached to, usually "graduate," would also be capitalized if it isn't at the beginning of a sentence. Otherwise, don't.
posted by Electrius at 8:29 PM on May 22, 2008

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