Rules for Capitalization
Capitalize the following:
- The first word of a sentence.
Example: Greg goes to school everyday.
- The first word of a direct quotation, except when the quotation is split.
Example: Jill asked, “Did you go to school today?”
“No,” I responded, “it was a snow day.”
Tom said, “The weather was unpredictable.”
- All proper nouns
- Names of people: the first letter of a person's first, last and middle name.
Examples: George W. Bush, Harriet Tubman
- Words used as names:
Examples: mother, father aunt, uncle when these words are used as names.
Please ask Mother what we're having for lunch. - Mother is used as a name; remember if you could use her first name in its place then you capitalize. (Please ask Sally what we're having for lunch.)
Please ask my mother what we're having for lunch. - In this sentence, mother describes someone but is not used as a name. (If you replace mother with Sally it does not sound right - Please ask my Sally what we're having for lunch.)
- Names, including initials, of individuals.
- Specific geographical locations: Hartford, Connecticut, Africa, Detroit Zoo, Lake Erie, the Northeast, the Southend.
- However, we do not capitalize compass directions or locations that aren't being used as names:
Examples: the north side of the city; we're leaving the Northwest and heading south this winter.
- Capitalize words that show a particular section of the country.
Examples: The Southern Coast is beautiful. I live in the South.
When these words indicate direction, don't capitalize them.
Walk four miles north to get to the next town.
- Names of celestial bodies:
Examples: Mars, Saturn, the Milky Way.
Do not, however, capitalize earth, moon, sun, except when those names appear in a context in which other (capitalized) celestial bodies are mentioned. "I like it here on earth," but "It is farther from Earth to Mars than it is from Mercury to the Sun.
- Names of newspapers and journals. Do not, however, capitalize the word 'the', even when it is part of the newspaper's title: the Hartford Courant, the Detroit Free Press.
- Days of the week, months of the year.
Examples: Tuesday, August
Do not, however, capitalize the names of seasons (spring, summer, fall, autumn, winter). "Next winter, we're traveling south; by spring, we'll be back up north."
- All names of holidays (excluding any prepositions).
Examples: Independence Day, Passover, Ramadan, Christmas.
- Historical events:
Examples: World War I, the Renaissance, the Crusades, the Civil War.
Examples: African American, Native American. (Most writers do not capitalize whites, blacks.)
Examples: Swedish,Jewish, French,American, Indian
Examples: English, Spanish, French
- Names of religions, religious terms, deities and sacred works:
Examples: God, the Almighty, Christ, Jesus, the Supreme Being, Allah, Buddha, Christianity, Christians, the Bible, Hinduism, Judaism, Jews, Islam, Muslims, Quran.
- Names of courses:
Examples: Economics, Biology 101, Computer 210,, Typing 11, History 101
However, we would write: "I'm taking courses in biology and earth science this summer."
- Brand names: Tide, Maytag, Chevrolet, Ford, Levi.
- Particular places, such as countries, cities, mountains, streets, oceans, lakes, and so on.
Examples: Chile, Peru, Mount Everest, Pacific Ocean, Rocky Mountains, the Nile River, Lake Erie
- Names of streets, buildings, parks, and companies.
Examples: Broadway, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Sony
- The names of prizes, treaties, and famous documents.
Examples: the Nobel Prize, the Declaration of Independence
- Academic degrees.
Example: John Smith, Ph.D.
- All words in the names of specific organizations and agencies excluding prepositions, conjunctions, and articles.
Examples: the Democratic Party, Republicans, Girl Scouts of America, a Democrat, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Senate, the Middle Ages, World War I, the Battle of Britain.
- The names of ships, aircraft, satellites, and space vehicles: U.S.S. Arizona, Spirit of St. Louis, the spy satellite Ferret-D, Voyager II, the space shuttle Challenger.
- The names of specific courts.
Examples: the Supreme Court of the United States, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
- Official names: names of businesses and the official names of their products.
Examples: Burger King, Popsicle, Crest toothpaste, Post Sugar Crisps
- Many abbreviations and acronyms.
Examples: Dec., Tues., Lt. Gen., UNESCO, B.C., A.D., A.M., P.M.
- Proper adjectives:
Examples: Hawaiian pineapples, a Philadelphia museum
- The pronoun I
- Adjectives formed from names of geographical locations, languages, races, nationalities, and religions
Examples: Spanish warrior, Asian teacher, Hindu priest
- Titles which precede names.
Examples: Mr. Brown, Uncle Joseph, Aunt Sally, Senator White, Dr. Fernandez, Lieutenant Ronald, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
DO NOT capitalize a title that follows or is a substitute for a person’s name unless it is a title of a head of national
Examples: government, Helen Jack, lieutenant governor, James Madison, President Abraham Lincoln, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Governor Granholm.
- Titles of books, movies, paintings etc.
Capitalize the first and last words and all other important words in titles of books, movies, paintings.
Example: Gone with the Wind
Capitalize a conjunction, an article, or a preposition if it is the first or last word in a title.
Example: The Barron's
- The first word and all nouns in a salutation.
Examples: My dear Sally, Dear Fred
- The first word in the complimentary closing of a letter.
Example: Yours sincerely, or Sincerely yours,
- Names of relationships only when they are a part of or a substitute for a person's name. Often this means that when there is a modifier, such as a possessive pronoun, in front of such a word, we do not capitalize it.
Examples: Let's go visit Grandmother today.
Let's go visit my grandmother today.
Today is Grandmother's birthday.
Where are we going, Dad?
I love my dad.
Is Uncle Gene coming with us?
I will take Mom and Dad to dinner to celebrate their anniversary.
She told me that my father forgot his glasses.
Note: To check if it should be capitalized or not, just replace the relationship word with the real name; if the resulting sentence makes sense, then capitalize, otherwise do not.
- Words indicating family relationships when used with a person's name as a title.
Examples: Aunt Sally and Uncle Jack;
but, .... my aunt and uncle, Sally and Jack Walker.
Directions: The sentences in the questions do not have correct capitalization. Find the choices that have correct capitalization. Also, write examples of your own for each of the above capitalization rules.