Refresher on Basic Rules of Capitalization

By Amy Valentine   |   November 19, 2015

Has the use of social media driven the basic rules of capitalization out of everyone’s head?  The casual style that is the hallmark of Facebook posts, Tweets, and email conversations means some of us have forgotten when it is appropriate to capitalize words. While I like to complain that the lost art of basic grammar skills is the fault of the under-25 crowd, egregious errors pop up in everyday business communications among the older generations more often than we would all like. Other people have noticed similar grammatical errors in common usage. I think we could all use a quick refresher course on basic capitalization:

Capitalize the first word in a sentence.

“The baby box turtles hatched in the fall.”

Capitalize the first letter of a company or product that is usually lower-case, such as iPhone, when it begins a sentence.

“IPhones are selling like hotcakes.”

Capitalize the pronoun “I.”

“I don’t understand why teenagers tend to type a lowercase “I” when texting.”

Capitalize proper nouns: the names of specific people, places, and organizations.

“Queen Victoria”

“DeLaune and Associates”

“Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board”

Capitalize family relationships when used as proper nouns.

“Uncle Miles was my mother’s brother.”

“Mom and Dad, can you come to Austin for Thanksgiving?”

Capitalize titles that appear before names, but not after names.

“President Obama”

“Jane Doe, president of our PTA, opened the meeting by reading last month’s minutes.”

Capitalize the days of the week, the months of the year, and holidays, but generally not the seasons.

“Trash and recycling get picked up on Thursday in our neighborhood.”

“My favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day, happens each year in February.”

“We anticipate a rainy fall and winter this year.”

Capitalize periods of time and events, but not century numbers.

“Victorian Era”

“Civil War”

“twentieth century”

Capitalize trademarks.

“IBM”

“Pepsi-cola”

I’m sure there are other capitalization faux pas making the rounds of our daily email exchanges and Linked In posts. There’s always the trusty AP Style Guide to turn to with grammar questions. Leave a comment below of your favorite (or not-so-favorite) examples.

 

About the Author

Amy, DeLaune's project manager, helps the office run smoothly, moving projects from client to writer to editor to art.

One response to “Refresher on Basic Rules of Capitalization”

  1. Sara says:

    My personal favorite is the random capitalization of words because the writer thinks the words are Important!

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