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Re: editing a cookbook

Other than trademarked names, should ingredients in the recipe lists be capitalized?

Thank you in advance.

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    You might want to open a cookbook and see how this is commonly done.
    – CC Rideur
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 13:27

2 Answers 2

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After reviewing several recipe web sites created by corporate media groups and Internet startups, it is clear that, in general, recipe ingredients are not capitalized, but a few online style guides do say to capitalize the first letter of an ingredient name. I see a lot more lower case ingredient names and don't recall seeing initial capitalizations.

There are plenty of ingredients where the capitalization can be confusing. Foods that are named after places are very common: frankfurter, hamburger, bourbon, Scotch eggs, french fries, etc.

Notice I capitalized "Scotch" but not "french"? That's because in this context, "french" refers to how the potatoes are cut, and not the country. But "Scotch" in "Scotch egg" refers to Scotland. But "scotch" as in "scotch whiskey" is often not capitalized.

What you want to do at this point is get a style guide that includes information on recipes and food capitalization and then stick with it. Being consistent is better than being 100% right. Also, if and when you are sending recipes to be published anywhere, the editors you work with will either indicate the style guidelines they require of you, or they will just take your manuscript and edit it to fit their style guidelines. Still, having a consistent style that you follow on your own will make your manuscript more professional.

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    +1, and good point about sticking with the style you choose. That is very important. Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 19:21
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Most ingredients start with a number (1 cup flour), so they don't need to be capitalized, but if the ingredient starts with a letter (Salt to taste), it should be capitalized.

See Virginia Tech's How to Write a Recipe

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  • Bonk link. Consider [How to Write a Recipe](vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/105611/… Note the publication does not mention ingredient capitalization, but those in the sample recipe given are not. A given exception would of course be branded ingredients eg 1 8oz can Heinz tomato sauce
    – CNSKnight
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 16:46
  • Looks like they rearranged their site, I've fixed the link Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 21:50
  • Some recipe books use lower case, some use upper case, based on my collection. There's no hard rule.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:15

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