1. Capitalize the first word of a sentence and the pronoun I in any location.
ex. The agency bought a computer, and I learned how to use it.
*Note: The first word of a main clause following a colon may be capitalized for emphasis.
ex. The decision of the council was this: Taxes will be increased.
However, it is also correct to use a lower case letter following a colon.
2. In the title of a book, shorter piece of writing or web page, capitalize the first letter of each word except articles (a/an, the), prepositions and conjunctions (FANBOYS).
Focus on Grammar
Romeo and Juliet
“Rules for Capitalization”
3. Capitalize the first word in a quotation.
ex. Mr. Marsh exclaimed, “Let’s do the best we can!”
“Come see me soon,” requested his mom.
4. Capitalize the first word and all titles and nouns in the salutation of a letter and the first word in the complimentary close.
ex. Dear Miranda, Sincerely yours, Very truly yours
5. Capitalize the names of the days of the week, special days (holidays), months of the year, historic events, and eras.
ex. Tuesday, Memorial Day, American Revolution
Fourth of July, December, Paleozoic Era
6. Capitalize the first, last, and all other important words in the titles of written works (documents, books, journals, newspapers, reports) and their contents (chapters, sections, articles), works of art and music, and movies.
*Note: Capitalize articles (a, an, the), conjunctions, or prepositions only when it is the first word in a title or subtitle.
ex. The Wealth of Nations A Day at the Races, The Declaration of Independence, Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All
7. Capitalize nouns and abbreviations referring to parts of a written work only when the reference is followed by a number.
ex. Book IX Chapter 6 Section 2 Volume III
8. Capitalize words referring to the Deity and a specific religion.
ex. the Creator, Buddhism, Christian, Allah
9. Capitalize the names of people and words associated with the name (places, diseases, etc.)
ex. Joyce M. Wexler, Hodgkin’s Disease, David Ponitz Center
10. Capitalize people’s titles in three instances:
*when immediately preceding a name
ex. Dr. Carl Maxwell, Miss Dorothy Mosher, Uncle Don, Sergeant Jackson
Mr. Edward Crane, President Wilma Dorn, Grandma Judy, Seaman Hoover
*after a name in an address of typed signature
ex. Ms. Maria Richards, Director of Personnel, Marvin J. Feldman, Manager
*used in the place of a person’s name
ex. “I understand your decision, Judge,” replied the defendant.
I love you, Grandma.
11. Capitalize the specific names of the following:
geographical sites & places: Rocky Mountains, Lake Superior Austin, Texas
regions: the Midwest, the South, the Middle East
organizations: the United Way, American Red Cross, Salvation Army
buildings: Union Baptist Church, Empire State Building, Dunbar High School
works of engineering: Hoover Dam, Great Wall of China, Jefferson Memorial
Abbreviations of U.S. States: CA (= California), WA (= Washington)
12. Capitalize words based on nationality, geography or historical background.
ex. Alaskan, Canadians, Mexican, Chinese,
New Yorker, Indian, Midwesterner, Californian
13. Capitalize the name brand but not the generic product’s name.
ex. Hostess Twinkies are snacks.
My favorite soap is Lava.
The car I would really like to own is a Mercedes-Benz.
Nike shoes, Wonder bread, Apple personal computers
14. Capitalize the names of specific courses (usually followed by a number) but not those of general areas of study (except languages).
ex. Mrs. Cramer’s record includes many business, mathematics, and political science courses;
she is now studying Spanish and Psychology 267.
Below is a list of some words that should NOT be capitalized.
trees: redwood, oak, willow
flowers: daffodil, rose, tulip
diseases/illnesses: cancer, measles, appendicitis
titles following a pronoun/article: my mom, our doctor, the judge
seasons: fall, winter, spring
directions: north on Interstate 75, rain from the west, southerly winds