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:
The Beginning of a Sentence
Examples: We are moving. They are not moving.
Proper nouns reference a specific person, place, or thing.
Examples: I went to the store with Sandra. I saw Mars through the telescope.
The Pronoun “I”
Example: She wanted to go, but I didn’t.
Acronyms are abbreviations formed from the initial letters of other words.
Example: MIA is an acronym for “Missing In Action.”
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
This includes days of the week, months of the year, and major holidays.
Examples: June, Thanksgiving
This includes all major religions as well as their religious texts and figures.
Examples: Jesus, Koran
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.
Specific Events and Periods of Time
Examples: The Middle Ages, World War II