Rules for Capitalization

Whether it be on homework or a work memo, proper use of the English language is essential to effective communication. While capitalization rules can vary according to style guide, there are a few universals you should familiarize yourself with to make sure your writing is error-free. Here are some situations in which you should always capitalize:

1. The Beginning of a Sentence

Examples: We are moving. They are not moving.

2. Proper Nouns

Proper nouns reference a specific person, place, or thing.

Examples:

I went to the store with Sandra.

I saw Mars through the telescope.

3. The Pronoun “I”

Example:

She wanted to go, but I didn’t.

4. Acronyms

Acronyms are abbreviations formed from the initial letters of other words.

Example: MIA is an acronym for “Missing In Action.”

5. Titles

Most words in book, movie, song, and other publications should be capitalized with a few exceptions:

  • Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the) unless they are the first word in the title.
  • Do not capitalize conjunctions (and, but, or, etc) unless they are the first word in the title.
  • Do not capitalize short prepositions of less than four letters (by, of, up, etc) unless they are the first word in the title.

Examples: Manchester by the Sea, War for the Planet of the Apes

6. Calendar Terms

This includes days of the week, months of the year, and major holidays.

Examples: June, Thanksgiving

7. Religious Terms

This includes all major religions as well as their religious texts and figures.

Examples: Jesus, Koran

8. Geographical Locations and Nationalities

These include cities, countries, states, and the collective names of people from specific countries.

Examples:

The Russians had a space program as well.

She was from Des Moines, Iowa.

9. Specific Events and Periods of Time

Examples: The Middle Ages, World War II

English Basics

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