Capitalization

Most students know to capitalize the first letter of the first word in every sentence. Here are some other capitalization rules to jog your memory.

Reproduce capitalization in a quoted passage

Capitalize the first word of quoted material when you lead into the quote with an explanatory phrase.

FOR EXAMPLE:

According to Dan Steele, "All of the workers will be laid off by Tuesday."

But... If the quotation blends with the structure of your own sentence, there is no need to capitalize the first word of the quote. Example: Severson claims that the workers "will be paid compensation benefits."

Capitalize words of significance in a title

Capitalize all words of significance in the titles of books, periodicals, and art works. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), or prepositions of four or fewer letters, unless they are the first or last words of the title.

FOR EXAMPLE:

War and Peace

The Great Gatsby

Much Ado About Nothing

Capitalize the first word in every line of poetry

Note: Some contemporary poets (like e.e. cummings) do not use capitals. Retain the style the poet uses.

Capitalize names of people or groups of people

FOR EXAMPLE:

Arthur Ashe

Meg Ryan

Republicans

Democrats

Only capitalize names of family relations when used with a person's proper name:

Grandpa Leon, grandpa

Aunt Phyllis, aunt

Capitalize religions and religious titles and names

FOR EXAMPLE:

Judaism

God

Protestant

Buddha

the Bible

Muslim

Catholic

the Koran

Capitalize names of nations, nationalities and languages

FOR EXAMPLE:

Germany

Native American

Japanese

Asian American

French

Swahili

Capitalize places and regions (designated by points on a compass) when they function as nouns and refer to a particular place in the country and not to a direction

FOR EXAMPLE:

the Rockies

the Great Lakes

the Mid-Atlantic

the cold Northwest

I was driving northwest.

Capitalize titles of distinction

FOR EXAMPLE:

Secretary of State

President Kennedy

Prime Minister Thatcher

Governor Doyle

Dr. Roth

J. W. Moellendorf, D.C.

Margaret Reid, Ph.D.

Jack Wilson, Sr.

Jack Wilson, Jr.