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11.3: Capitalization

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    The following are some capitalization rules. You probably know most of them, but it's very possible you may be unclear on a couple of them.

    • Always capitalize the first letter of a sentence. This gives a visual signal to your reader that a new idea is beginning.
    • Always capitalize "I" when referring to yourself. Don't fall into the texting lowercase "i" habit.
    • Always capitalize proper nouns. This may be a little trickier than you think. See this video for some tips.

    The following video will tell you more.

    Free English Lesson -- Capitalization and Proper Nouns. Authored by: The Nardvark. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\)
    Capitalize Don't Capitalize
    • Names of people
    • A particular river or mountain
    • Brands
    • Company/organization names
    • Days of the week
    • Months of the year
    • Street and square names
    • Departments of the government
    • Historical eras
    • Holidays
    • Institutions
    • Man-made structures
    • Geographical and geopolitical locations (countries, counties, etc.)
    • Landmarks
    • Planets when referred to as their name
    • Races, nationalities and tribes
    • Religions and names of deities
    • Books that are the basis of a religion
    • Special events and occasions
    • The genus of an organism
    • Types of animals, unless it's named after a person or a place
    • Just the words river or mountain
    • Elements off the periodic table of elements (no exceptions)
    • Types of companies
    • Food, unless it's a brand name or has someone's name in it
    • Medical conditions, unless they are named after someone
    • Plants, vegetables, and fruits unless they are named after someone (and only capitalize the name)
    • Use of department and other generic terms without titles
    • Chemicals and minerals
    • Seasons and times of day
    • Heavenly bodies that aren't planets
    • The species of an organism


    Capitalize adjectives when the adjective pertains to "X," and "X" is a proper noun. For instance, French refers to France, which is a proper noun. So French in French fries should be capitalized.

    Writing at Work

    When working with legal documents, capitalization rules differ from the standard. Defined terms may be capitalized throughout legal documents.

    Exercise 1

    Correct the capitalization errors in the following fictional story. Copy the corrected paragraph onto your own sheet of paper.

    lance worthington signed a Recording Contract with Capitol records on june 15, 2007. Despite selling two million copies of his Debut Album, nothing to lose, lance lost quite a bit as his tax returns from the irs revealed. lance did not think it was fair that the Record Company kept so much of his earnings, so he decided to hire robert bergman, a prominent music Attorney with a Shark-like reputation. bergman represented lance all the way to the supreme court, where lance won the case against capitol records. Lance worthington was instrumental in changing intellectual property rights and long standing Record Company practices. All artists and musicians can thank him for his brave stance against record companies. Lance subsequently formed his own independent record label called worthy records. worthy is now a successful Label based out of chicago, illinois, and its Artists have appeared on well known shows such as The tonight show and Saturday night live. Lance worthington is a model for success in the do-it-yourself World that has become the Music Industry.

    Capitalization of Titles (Title Case)

    Capitalization of titles can be confusing because we see this done in different ways (styles) in different publication.

    The traditional method of capitalizing a title involves:

    • Capitalizing the first letter of the first and last words in a title.
    • Capitalizing the first letter of all words that aren't articles or coordinating conjunctions that are less than five letters.

    The following video illustrates this with particular examples.

    Video \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Capitalization Rules: Capitalization of a Title. Authored by: Union Test Prep. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License.


    Some style guides treat the title as a sentence and only capitalize the first word. This is not generally acceptable in college classes, however.

    In particular, when you list the title on your Works Cited or Bibliography page, even if the original title used sentence case capitalization, change the capitalization to title case.

    Exercise 2

    Capitalize the following titles according to standard title case.

    1. the song remains the same

    2. enter the wu-tang (36 chambers)

    3. the dna drug revolution

    4. the curious incident of the dog in the night time

    5. so long, and thanks for all the fish

    6. if life's a bowl of cherries, what am i doing in the pits?

    Contributors and Attributions

    This page most recently updated on June 8, 2020.

    This page titled 11.3: Capitalization is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .