TO CAPITALIZE OR NOT TO CAPITALIZE


Modern writers capitalize less frequently than did earlier writers, and informal writing permits less capitalization than formal writing.

Capitalize the pronoun I and the interjection O.
How long must I wait, O Lord?

Donít capitalize the interjection oh unless it is the first word of a sentence.
Oh
how we enjoyed the party, but oh how we paid for our fun later.

Capitalize proper nouns, their derivatives and abbreviations, and common nouns used as proper nouns.

1. Specific persons, races, nationalities, languages.

Rita Mae Browne Negroid English
Charles Mongoloid French
Sally  Caucasian Spanish

2. Specific places.

Dallas Newfoundland
California Iran
Lake Erie Ohio River

3. Specific organizations, historical events, and documents.

   Daughters of the American Revolution        The French Revolution

4. Days of the week, months, holidays, and holy days.

Thursday November Christmas
Sunday January Labor Day
Friday May Easter
Monday October Hanukkah

5. Religious terms with sacred significance.

the Virgin     Allah    Holy Ghost    Jehovah     the Torah

6. Titles of books, plays, magazines, newspapers, journals, articles, poems. Capitalize the first word and all others except articles, and conjunctions and prepositions of fewer than five letters.

Gone with the Wind 
The Country Wife Pippa Passes
Paradise Lost 
Atlantic Monthly 
War and Peace

7. Titles, when they precede a proper noun. Such titles are an essential part of the name and are regularly capitalized. Titles arenít capitalized when they follow the name.

Professor Wilson 
Secretary
Dole 
Associate Dean
G.P. Bass
Dr.
Natalie Spence 
Mr.
Rothstein 
Vice Chairman
Rossi

8. Common nouns used as an essential part of a proper noun. These are generic names such as street, river, avenue, lake, county, ocean, college.

Vine Street  
Fifth Avenue  
Pacific Ocean  
Lake Huron

But when the generic term is used in the plural, it isnít usually capitalized.

Vine and Mulberry streets
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

Avoid unnecessary capitalization.

1. Capitalize north, east, south, west only when they come at the beginning of a sentence or refer to specific geographical locations.

Birds fly south in the winter.
She lives in the western part of the Old South.

2. The names of seasons need not be capitalized.

fall     autumn    winter    midwinter    spring    summer

3. Capitalize nouns indicating family relationships only when they are used as names or titles or in combination with proper names. Do not capitalize mother and father when they are preceded by possessive adjectives.

I telephoned my mother.
I telephoned Mother.

4. Ordinarily, donít capitalize common nouns and adjectives used in place of proper nouns and adjectives.

I went to high school in Cleveland.


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