To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize

It may seem obvious when to use capital letters. However, there are some occasions, when it can be a little confusing.  To help you edit your manuscript, use these rules to double check any word you may be questioning.

Capitalize these words, in these instances:

  • The first word of a sentence or of a fragment.
  • Capitalize when two or more sentences follow a sentence ending with a colon.
  • A proper name and the pronoun I.
  • The name of a country, nationality or an ethnic group.

Examples:

French, England, Black Americans, native Americans
  • The name of a holiday.

Example:

Christmas, Easter, Ramadan
  • The first word, and each significant word, of a title.

Capitalize the titles of high ranking government officials when used before their names  Do not capitalize the civil title if it is used instead of the name. Capitalize a person’s title when it precedes the name. Do not capitalize when the title is acting as a description following the name.

Example:

Queen Elizabeth, President Obama. The president will address Congress. Elizabeth, queen of England.
  • A brand name.
  • A Roman numeral, except when numbering the front pages of a book.
  • The name of a day or a month, but not seasons.

Example:

Tuesday, January, summer . . .
  • The name of a language.
  • A word expressing a connection with a place.

Example:

French when referring to France, but french when referring to windows.
  • The name of a historical period.

Example:

Middle Ages, Bronze Age, Industrial Revolution
  • A significant religious term.

This includes the names of holy days and festivals. Additionally, divine beings and the titles of important religious figures. However, the word god is not capitalized when it refers to a pagan deity.

Examples:

Lord, Prophet, Sabbath, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Mecca, Old Testament, Genesis, Crucifix . . .
  • The first word of a direct quotation which is a complete sentence.
  • Capitalize the first word of a salutation and the first word of a complimentary close.