How to Capitalize Words

There are many rules for capitalizing words. Use the following guidelines to help you remember when to capitalize.

  1. The first word of any sentence is always capitalized.
  2. Proper nouns are capitalized. Proper nouns are the names of specific places, people, organizations, and things.
  3. The pronoun "I" is always capitalized.
  4. When using family relationships as proper nouns, capitalize them.
  5. If a title is before a name, capitalize it.
  6. Religious figures, holy books, names of God, and other specific deities are capitalized.
  7. Non-specific uses of the word "god" are not capitalized.
  8. Months, days of the week, and holidays are capitalized.
  9. When directions are used as sections of the country, they are capitalized.
  10. Compass directions are not capitalized.
  11. A direct quote within a sentence starts with a capital letter.
  12. Events and specific periods of history are capitalized.
  13. When speaking of periods of historical time in centuries, the century numbers are not capitalized.
  14. Words and abbreviations of specific names are capitalized.
  15. Seasons of the year are only capitalized when used in a title.
  16. Names of any specific national, political, social, civic, or athletic groups are capitalized.
  17. Capitalize the names of federal, state, and provincial courts only when using the actual name.
  18. When talking about district or city courts, do not capitalize them.
  19. Only capitalize departments, boards, offices, bureaus, agencies, committees, and services when using the actual name.
  20. Names of things that came from specific things but are now common, general types of things are not capitalized, such as french fries.
  21. Do not capitalize school subjects unless they have a number or name a language.
  22. When naming careers, do not capitalize them.
Author: Janie Sullivan

Janie Sullivan, MBA, MAEd, has been teaching adult learners for over 20 years. She has taught online over 15 years, specializing in writing, communications, and small business applications. Janie directs the Center for Writing Excellence where she offers writing, editing, and formatting services for writers. She has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as multiple online sites. She teaches communication, business strategy, leadership, and management courses. Janie has published a book "Develop and Deliver an Online Class." This is the third book she has written about writing and teaching online. She also has published a novel and an anthology of short stories.

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