TO CAPITALIZE OR NOT?


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.

Bob  Rita   Mae  Browne  Semitic

Asiatic   American   Mongolian

Cuban   Canadian   English

2. Specific places.

Dallas   
California
Lake Erie
Newfoundland
Iran
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 
Labor Day
Easter   
Good Friday   
Hanukkah   
Yom Kippur

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 
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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