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Capitalization

Recognize when to use uppercase letters

Use capital letters
 

 

Proper Nouns vs. Common Nouns

CAPTIALS
1 PROPER NAMES & TITLES & INITIALS

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.  

2. TITLES AND OFFICES   

President Lincoln was the 16th president. (before name)

Queen Elizabeth II appeared…

Pope Francis, the current pope, was born in Argentina.

the President of the United States will speak… (if it replaces a name)

the Queen of England, the Prime Minister (if it replaces a name)

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 today.

3. ETHNIC, SOCIOECONOMIC, AND OTHER GROUPS

The Canadians elected a new prime minister.

Hispanics make up fifty per cent of the population.

The Hopi tribe lives in Arizona.

Aboriginal art from Australia is on display.

4. COUNTRIES, CITIES, BUILDINGS & LANDMARKS 

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.

5. ADJECTIVES FROM NATIONALITIES AND NAMES  (Chicago Manual 8.65)

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 …

6. COMMERICAL NAMES

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)

7. ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS, DEPARTMENTS

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.

8. MONTHS / DAYS OF THE WEEK / HOLIDAYS

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

9. MAJOR WORDS IN TITLES AND HEADINGS

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) 

10. ASTRONOMICAL TERMS

Mercury, Venus, Earth¹, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are planets.  

11.SHIPS, TRAINS, AIRCRAFT, AND SPACECRAFT

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)

LOWERCASE
1 PROPER NAMES & TITLES & INITIALS

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 

Our president will be giving a speech today.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, wanted…

The president of the United States lives in the White House

the pope gave his blessing; the president issued a statement

(Gregg 313b; CMOS 8.22; St. Martin's 309; AP 273)

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.

COMMON NOUNS

The people of color/ blacks deserve equal rights.

The lower-middle class deserve equal rights.

The homeless people deserve equal rights. (See Group Name.)

The deaf children deserve equal rights.

4. COUNTRIES, CITIES, BUILDINGS & LANDMARKS 

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. ADJECTIVES FROM NATIONALITIES AND NAMES

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

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

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

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 HEADINGS²

We read "One Hundred Years of Solitude".

We watched "Succeed because You Are Worth It".

We watched "As the World Turns".

We watched "The Young and the Restless".

We watched "Live to Die".

10. ASTRONOMICAL TERMS

It was the most powerful quake to occur on earth.

We sat outside to enjoy the warm sun.

11.SHIPS, TRAINS, AIRCRAFT, AND SPACECRAFT

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.

 

¹ Earth is more likely to occur with an initial capital when it is being referred to in astronomical terms. — Merriam Webster (380)

² Don't capitalize prepositions, conjunctions or articles.

Also see Quotation Marks with Titles | Hyphens & Capitals in Headings.

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Letter

Beginning a sentence

 

 

 

Initial Words

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

 

 

Proper Nouns, Math & Science Symbols, Dates, and Computer Terms

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

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.

15. MUSIC, MATH, LAW & ACADEMIA

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.

16. ABBREVIATIONS  (Chicago Manual 15.33)

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  The periods may be omitted with the capital abbreviation.

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

17. COMPUTER TERMS

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)

We now spell it lowercase, internet.  (AP 142) 

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

He examined the oak tree.

He was treated for leprosy.

The scientist isolated a gene.

The geologist referred to the prehistoric epoch.

15. SPELLING AND MUSICAL KEYS

The word vacuum has two u's and one mSee Italics.

The key of B-flat or B minor. (major)  Chicago Manual (7.49)

 

16. ABBREVIATIONS

Note:  Eng.– English / eng. – engineering

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

17. CODING AND FILE NAMES

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

Save it as myfile.docx (file names)

Send the file as a pdf. (also PDF)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capitals

Unusual Cases

 

 

 

Additional uses of capitals

UPPERCASE NOUNS

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

Ladies and Gentleman, the Prime Minister. (introduction)

He's Far Left  (political lean)

He is Frank Gaul(a proper noun)

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

The Cultural Revolution, the Great Depression

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

The Pledge of Allegiance (oath)

Pacific daylight time; (PDT)

He follows Dadaism, Stoicism, Cynicism.

He studies Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam.

He served in World War II.

LOWERCASE NOUNS

Thank the president. (any president)

The ladies and gentlemen will sit over there.

He's an independent.  (political position)

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

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

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

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

the presidential oath of office (oath)

eastern standard time; (EST)    See  Parentheses. 

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

He follows atheism / agnosticism.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

► Show Works Cited ▼ Hide Works Cited

Works Cited

Style Manuals

 

  • The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed., U of Chicago P, 2010.
  • The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Edited by Thomas Kent, et al., 51st ed., AP, 2016. 
  • The Gregg Reference Manual. Edited by William A. Sabin, 11th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, 2011.
  • MLA Handbookfor Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2009.
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed., American Psychological Association, 2009.
  • The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 2016, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl.
  • The New St. Martin's Handbook. By Andrea A. Lunsford and Robert J. Connors.3rd ed., Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999.

 

Style Manual Abbreviations: AP (Associated Press), APA (American Psychological Association), CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style),GREGG (Gregg Reference Manual), MLA (MLA Handbook) St Martin's (The New St. Martin's 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.