when to capitalize


If you’re any kind of writer, you probably noticed that I failed to capitalize the key words in the title of this post. I actually did this on purpose. The titles of books, songs, newspapers, and works of art should all be capitalized. In fact, titles, no matter what the content, should always have their keywords capitalized.  In additional to capitalizing titles of content, what other ways should you capitalize?  

The First Word of a Sentence

This should be a no brainer, but you should always capitalize the first letter of the first word in a sentence, no matter what the word is. Take, for example, the following sentences: “The weather was beautiful. It was sunny all day.” Even though the and it aren’t proper nouns, they’re capitalized here because they’re the first words in their sentences.

The I Pronoun

Whereas “you” and “me” are usually lowercase, the pronoun I should always be capitalized, regardless of where it appears in a sentence.

Proper Nouns

A proper noun is the special noun or name used for a specific person, place, company, or other thing. Proper nouns should always be capitalized.

People’s names are proper nouns, and therefore should be capitalized. The first letter of someone’s first, middle, and last name is always capitalized, as in John William Smith.

Other proper nouns include countries, cities, and sometimes regions.

Landmarks and monuments also start their proper names with capital letters.

The names of companies and organizations should also be capitalized, such as Nike and Stanford University. There are some exceptions: Sometimes a company may choose not to use a capital letter at the beginning of its name or product as a stylistic choice. Examples include eBay and the iPhone.

You should not however capitalize words that indicate a specific place, but it is not the official title. For instance, if you’re referring to a specific department, like “the department” “the company” “the chamber”.

Titles

Titles, like Mr., Mrs., and Dr., should be capitalized. When addressing someone with their professional title, you should use a capital letter at the beginning. Similarly, you should capitalize job titles when they come before a person’s name, as in “General Manager Sheila Davis will be at the meeting.” Also use a capital letter when you’re directly addressing a person by their title.

Words that indicate family relationships should also be capitalized when used as titles in front of a person’s name. However, if you’re just talking about relationships with no names involved, the titles shouldn’t be capitalized. For example, you’d capitalize “Uncle Marvin and Grandpa James will be at the picnic,” but you wouldn’t capitalize them in a sentence like “My aunt and my sister will be at the picnic.” You should capitalize the names of family titles when they’re used in place of proper names.

However, when you are referring to words other than the family and are not talking directly to the person, don’t capitalize like when you are talking to “the boss” or “the president”.  

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2 comments
  1. Billybuc said:

    Sister Mary Catherine drilled this lesson into our brains….like branding cattle. 🙂

  2. 1authorcygnetbrown said:

    Sister Mary Catherine would be proud of you!

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