Capitalization

Contrast the uses of uppercase and lowercase letters

Use capital letters
 

 

 

CAPTIALS LOWERCASE
1a. PROPER NAMES & TITLES & INITIALS COMMON NOUNS

Lyle A. Jones will be our new coach.
Lyle Jones, Jr., is driving us to baseball practice.
George Herman "Babe" Ruth won several awards.
Mom is driving us to baseball practice.
Dad is driving us to baseball practice.
Only God knows the answer.

 

Our neighbor will be our new coach.
The coach is driving us to baseball practice.
The baseball player won several awards. 
My mother is driving us to baseball practice
My dad is driving us to baseball practice.
Osiris was the god of corn. (one of many)

 

2. TITLES AND OFFICES COMMON NOUNS

President Lincoln was the 16th president.
General MacArthur ended his career in 1951.
King Abdullah rules in Jordan.
Professor James is in his office.
Prince Charles / The Prince of Wales will speak to the Garden Society.
 

Our president will be giving a speech today.
The generals are meeting in an hour.
The king of Jordan is Abdullah II bin al-Hussein
The professor, Jay James, is in his office.
The prince is well known for is love of gardening.

3. ETHNIC, SOCIOECONOMIC, AND OTHER GROUPS COMMON NOUNS

The Canadians elected a new prime minister.
Hispanics make up fifty per cent of the population.
King Abdullah rules in Jordan.
Aboriginal art from Australia is on display.

 

The people of color/ blacks deserve equal rights.
The lower-middle class deserve equal rights.
The homeless people deserve equal rights.
The deaf children deserve equal rights.

 

4. COUNTRIES, CITIES, BUILDINGS & LANDMARKS  COMMON NOUNS

We traveled in the Republic of Indonesia. (not prepositions)
He sailed across the Pacific Ocean
We traveled to the South. (a region of the U.S.)
We went to Times Square in New York.
The Getty Museum overlooks Malibu Beach.
The address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

We traveled in the Republic of  Indonesia. (not prepositions)
He sailed across the ocean
We drove south to Texas. (a direction)
Let's have lunch in the square/plaza. (a location)
The de Young Museum is in Golden Gate Park.   special names—di Medici
The panhandler lives on the avenue.

5. ADEJECTIVES FROM NATIONALITIES AND AMES  (Chicago Manual 8.65) COMMON NOUNS

The Arabs speak Arabic(languages)  See Nationality. 
We watched a Shakespearian play.
It was a Machiavellian play.
It was a Freudian slip. (the noun is lowercase)
The Pythagorean theorem is proved by …

 

We use arabic numerals.
It was a herculean task.
He loves french fries.
She had a cesarian section.  (birth by surgery)
He couldn't hear because of a blocked eustachian tube.  

   

6. COMMERICAL NAMES COMMON NOUNS

He took an Aspirin and lay down. (Trademark Bayer AG)
She bought a Coca Cola.
Do you have a Band-Aid? (Trademark of Johnson & Johnson)
You forgot to buy a Zipper. (Trademark of B. F. Goodrich)
  

I took some aspirin to get rid of my headache.  (generics)
Would you like a cola or a lemonade?
Do you have a band-aid?
You forgot to zip your zipper.
   

7. ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS, DEPARTMENTS COMMON NOUNS

The United Nations General Assembly met today.
The FBI and CIA conducted the recovery mission. (initials)
The Boy Scouts of America will sponsor the event.
This semester, I am taking Statistics I  and Digital Marketing. (course title)
He is works in the Department of Sociology.

 

The assembly was peaceful.
The association helps people find work.
The scouts served as guides.
I am studying business and marketing programs.
The university has a sociology department.   (adjective)    

8. MONTHS / DAYS OF THE WEEK / HOLIDAYS COMMON NOUNS

We vacation in August.
We work Monday through Saturday.
We don't work on Labor Day or Presidents Day (also Presidents' Day)
They lived during the High Renaissance
He ruled during the Tang Dynasty
  

We will vacation in springfall, autumn, winter summer
We will leave at two o'clock/ 2 p.m.
We don't work on holidays.
We live in the twenty-first century.
We live in the information age.

 

9. MAJOR WORDS IN TITLES AND HEADINGS COMMON NOUNS

We read "One Hundred Years of Solitude". (nouns)
We watched "All Our Children", was our favorite. (pronouns)
We watched"As the World Turns". (verbs)
We watched"The Young and the Restless". (initial word)
We watched"You Only Live Twice". (adverb) 

Also see Quotation Marks quote marks with titles | Hyphens  – capitalization in headings

 

We read "One Hundred Years of Solitude". (not prepositions)
We watched "Succeed because You Are Worth It". (not sub.conjunction)
We watched "As the World Turns". (not articles)
We watched "The Young and the Restless". (not conjunctions)
We watched "Live to Die". (not to with an infinitive)

 

10. ASTRONOMICAL TERMS COMMON NOUNS

Mercury Venus Earth Moon Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto are the names of planets.  

Capitalization is more likely to occur when the earth is being referred to in astronomical terms. — Merriam Webster (380)

 

It was the most powerful quake to occur on earth.
We sat outside to enjoy the warm sun.

11.SHIPS, TRAINS, AIRCRAFT, AND SPACECRAFT COMMON NOUNS

The RMS Titanic lies at the bottom of the sea. (italics)
We flew on a Boeing 747.
They went up in the space shuttle Discovery. (italics)
Charles Lindberg flew on the Spirit of St. Louis. (italics)

 

The ship lies at the bottom on the sea.
We flew on a jumbo jet.
They went up in a space shuttle.
He flew in a custom-built single engine plane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Letter

Beginning a sentence

 

 

 

Initial word in a sentence

CAPTIAL
12. SENTENCE INITIAL WORD

Begin every sentence with a capital letter.

He said, "What's new with you?".  A quoted sentence

See Quotation Marks.

LOWERCASE
MID-SENTENCE

Begin every sentence with a capital letter; and every clause with a lowercase letter.

He said, "It's raining here," and added, "but it's not cold." (Initial word of quote is capitalized.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Letter

First Person Pronoun

 

 

 

First person singular vs. other pronouns

CAPTIAL
13. SUBJECT PRONOUN – I

They knew what I said.

See Personal Pronouns.

LOWERCASE
OTHER PRONOUNS

He said that he, she and they will be back soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Letter

Other Cases

 

 

 

CAPTIALS LOWERCASE
14.BIOLOGY, MEDICINE, GEOLOGY  (Chicago Manual 8.127-155) GENERIC TERMS

He examined the Valley oak, also known as Quercus lobata. (genus)
Leprosy was caused by Mycobacterium leprae.
The geneticist isolated the gene: BRCA1 (genes, enzymes)
The geologist referred to the Paleocene epoch.

 

He examined the oak tree.
He was treated for leprosy.
The scientist isolated a gene.
The geologist referred to the prehistoric epoch.

 

15. MUSIC, MATH, LAW & ACADEMIA SHARP, FLAT, MINOR, MAJOR

The composition is in the key of G major. (keys, chords)
He received a B on his paper (academic grades)
If A sues B for failure to perform a service, then… (hypothetical names)
Sigma ∑ (sum) and Pi π (3.14) are written as capitals.
The architect built an L-shaped house with arches using an S-curve.
The palace was built in the Neoclassical style.

 

The word vacuum has two u's and one mSee Italics.
The key of B-flat or B minorChicago Manual (7.49)

16. ABBREVIATIONS  (Chicago Manual 15.33) ABBREVIATIONS

Jan. / Jan or Ja   The period may be omitted. Be consistent.

Sun. or Su / Mon. or M  / Tues. or Tu    See Periods.

AM, PM, AKA The period is omitted with the capital form.

EST eastern standard time, PST Pacific standard time  capital and in italics

N. E. W. S. / NEWS  directions  The periods may be omitted with the capital abbreviation.

U.S. or US dollars  The periods may be omitted.

 

Note:  Eng.– English / eng. – engineering

a.m. (ante meridiem) p.m. (post meridiem) a.k.a.  (also known as)

17. COMPUTER TERMS FUNCTION KEYS / INTERFACE FEATURES / NETWORKS

Press the F1 key and then Ctl+Alt+Delete.
Choose Live View from the View menu.
The Arpanet was an precursor to the Internet, or the Web. (proper nouns) 

 

Select the file nextButton.as and drag it to the stage. (camelcase – mixed)
Save it as myfile.docx (file names)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capitals

Unusual Cases

 

 

 

Additional uses of capitals

UPPERCASE NOUNS LOWERCASE NOUNS

Thank you, Mr. President (Mr. with a title of office)

Thank the president. (any president)

Ladies and Gentleman, the Prime Minister. (introduction)

The ladies and gentlemen will sit over there.

He's Far Left  (political lean)

He's an independent.  (political position)

He is Frank Gaul(a proper noun)

He is Charles de Gaulle (di Medici, da Vinci)  (names with de, di, da, d'.)

The Amazon River is the widest in the world. (a proper noun)

The Amazon basin (also, the California desert (areas that are not proper names)

The Cultural Revolution, the Great Depression

the baby boom, the cold war, the civil rights movement (historical events)

The Gettysburg Address (a major speech, not a location)

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech (major speech with beginning words)

The Pledge of Allegiance (oath)

the presidential oath of office (oath)

Pacific daylight time; (PDT)

eastern standard time; (EST)    See  Parentheses. 

He follows Dadaism, Stoicism, Cynicism.

He paints in the style of realism / symbolism / romanticism / op art.

He studies Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam.

He follows atheism / agnosticism.

He served in World War II.

The cold war lasted from 1946–1991.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

We drove North to visit Yosemite national park.

We to a boat to Ellis island to visit the statue of Liberty

He lives in The United States.

SOLUTION

We drove north to visit Yosemite National Park.  

Do not capitalize north when it is an adverb, a direction.  Capitalize all the words in a proper name (except small words): national and park are part of the proper name.

We to a boat to Ellis Island to visit the Statue of Liberty.    

Proper names are capitalized. If you are unsure, look up the exact name.

He lives in the United States. 

The article "the" is not part of the proper name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Style Manuals

 

 

 

Resources 

 

Style Manual Abbreviations: AP (Associated Press), APA (American Psychological Association), CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style),GREGG (Gregg Reference Manual), MLA (MLA Handbook)

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Two Major Earthquake

Chilean earthquake seismic waves

 

 

 

Read for Errors

the california earthquake of 1906 was a significant earthquake. The city of san francisco was shaken and burned to the ground. The san andreas fault runs north from san diego to alaska. the plates which lie under the pacific ocean are in constant movement. the fault locks up in southern california as the plates try to move past each other.

the 1960 valdivia earthquake or great chilean earthquake of may 22 is to date the most powerful earthquake ever recorded on earth.

the earthquake occurred in the afternoon at 2 p.m. on sunday. it registered a magnitude of 9.5 on the richter scale.

the department of seismology at the university of california, berkely used data from this earthquake for its research.

the author isabel allende included the 1960 earthquake in the story of her book The House of the Spirits (1982).

fault (n.) – break between earth's plates

runs (v.) – goes, exists, lies in the direction

to date (prep. phrase) – until this day, so far, up to now

 

 

 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-10" button at the bottom, or click the check button to the left  as you go.

 

1.

2.
.

3.

4.

5.

6.
earthquake

7.

8.

9.
used data from this earthquake for its research.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Editing for capitals

de Young Museum
 

 

Read for Errors

the de young museum originated as the fine arts building, which was constructed in golden gate park for the california international exposition in 1894.

the chair of the exposition organizing committee was michael h. de young, co-founder of the san francisco chronicle, the local newspaper.

the fine arts building was designed in a pseudo-egyptian revival style and decoratively adorned with images of hathor, the cow goddess.

following the exposition, the building was designated as the memorial museum for the people of san francisco.

over the years, it has grown from a tempory attraction to the foremost museum in the western united states concentrating on american art as well as art of the asia, oceania and africa.

currently, it is showing picasso's cubism paintings from the musée national picasso in paris, france.

cubism (n.) – a style of painting in which objects and people are represented by geometric shapes.

designate (v.) – select, set aside

exposition (n.) – a show, a large public event

foremost (adj.) – best, most important, leading

pseudo-egyptian (n.) – in a like style, not the true style

 

 

 

 

Edit the sentence for errors. Capitalize letters where necessary.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

11.
the de young museum originated as the fine arts building, which was constructed in golden gate park for the california international exposition in 1894.


12.
the chair of the exposition organizing committee was michael h. de young, co-founder of the san francisco chronicle.


13.
the fine arts building was designed in a pseudo-egyptian revival style and decoratively adorned with images of hathor, the cow goddess.


14.
following the exposition, the building was designated as the memorial museum for the people of san francisco.


15.
over the years, it has grown from a tempory attraction to the foremost museum in the western united states concentrating on american art as well as art of the asia, oceania and africa.


16.
currently, it is showing picasso's cubism paintings from the musée national picasso in paris, france.