Pokémon GO – Style Decisions

Are your English language learners playing Pokémon GO, the craze that’s distracting students worldwide? At ESL Library, we’re working hard to adapt the game into educational activities to maximize your students’ interest.

With all these new materials came many editing questions. How should we style the terms of this game? Where should we capitalize? Should we use accents? Are terms like Poké Ball and PokéStop one word or two? Here’s a look at our behind-the-scenes style decisions.


When it comes to matters of style, I often consult trusted style guides and dictionaries to make my decisions. At ESL Library, we rely on The Chicago Manual of StyleMerriam-Websterand Oxford Dictionaries. The problem with a new trend is that there aren’t any entries about it yet! The AP Stylebook has already made a decision about the game title (Pokemon Go, without the accent and with a lowercase “o”), but clearly not everyone agrees.

Shouldn’t we follow how Niantic, the makers of Pokémon GO, style the game title? Following how companies choose to style terms is a good rule of thumb (e.g., Tim Hortons, not Horton’s, for the restaurant name). However, this isn’t always guaranteed to give you the best style. For example, a government site might choose to capitalize “president” in every instance, whereas most style guides agree that it should only be capitalized directly before a name and not elsewhere (e.g., “President Lincoln” vs. “The president said…”).

Our house style is to follow what Chicago stipulates. Failing that, we often go with what the company itself has chosen. In the case of Pokémon GO, the following rules are based on Niantic’s style choices.


Pokémon or Pokemon? While AP may have chosen to forego the accent because people using computers may not always bother to type it in while searching, we agree with the dissenters and choose to follow Nintendo’s and Niantic’s spelling with the accent. This applies to both the game title and the characters themselves. As many have pointed out, the game and the characters have been around for years now and have traditionally been spelled with the accent.

  • Many people are playing Pokémon GO.
  • I caught three Pokémon today.

Decision: Pokémon


  1. GO or Go? In our materials, we’ve chosen to follow Niantic’s style decision of capitalizing both letters in the game name: Pokémon GO.
  2. Pokémon or pokémon? The game name was an easy choice. Titles are traditionally capitalized, so an uppercase “P” makes perfect sense: Pokémon GO. But what about for the characters? Should we capitalize when referring to a specific Pokémon (e.g., The strange-looking Pokémon stared at me) but not when referring to them in general (e.g., I caught several pokémon yesterday). This was a tougher decision because the previous examples make sense (to use an initial capital letter for a name but a lowercase letter for a category in general), but again, we ultimately followed the company’s decision to use an initial capital letter for every instance.
    • The strange-looking Pokémon stared at me.
    • I caught several Pokémon yesterday.
  3. Egg or eggs? For other common terms in the Pokémon GO world, we’ve also followed Niantic’s decisions to use an initial uppercase letter (Gym, Egg, Trainer, etc.). See the end of this post for a longer list.

Decisions: Pokémon GO / Pokémon / Egg

Singular or Plural

Two Pokémon or two Pokémons? This decision was also tough because I’ve seen many instances of both online. Again, Niantic chose the singular Pokémon even for plural instances. This decision sits well with me, because it’s also what we’ve chosen to do for “emoji” (one emoji, two emoji). Japanese words that are borrowed into English often follow this rule.

  • Did you see that Pokémon by the bus stop?
  • Did you see those Pokémon by the bus stop?
  • That Pokémon is so cute!
  • Those Pokémon are so cute!

Decisions: Pokémon for singular and plural

One Word or Two

Poké Ball, PokéBall, or Pokéball? Poké Stop, PokéStop, or Pokéstop? Though slightly counter-intuitive, we’re choosing to follow Niantic’s style decisions. They have Poké Ball as two words and PokéStop as one word with a capital “S” in the middle of the word.

Decisions: Poké Ball/ PokéStop


The following terms are words we’ve used in our lesson and blog posts, and they are capitalized and accented according to the style decisions mentioned above.

For definitions of the following terms, see our Discussion Starters lesson: The “Pokémon GO” Phenomenon

  • Pokémon GO
  • Pokémon
  • Poké Ball
  • PokéStop
  • Egg
  • Trainer
  • Gym
  • Type
  • Evolution
  • Incense
  • Level Up
  • CP
  • Gotta catch ’em all!

Do you agree with our style decisions? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below!

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1 comment

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  1. Guillermo Solano says:

    Aug 24, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Excellent lesson to teach my pupils, I´m sure they´ll love it.

    Teacher Billy

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