Capitalize the first word in any sentence, the personal pronoun I, and the first word of a direct quotation if it is a complete statement.
- Night falls quickly in the mountains.
- The door was open when I arrived home.
- He looked at the cake and said, “Diets, like pie crust, are made to be broken.”
1) PROPER NOUNS AND ADJECTIVES
Capitalize all proper nouns and adjectives such as the names of person, business firms, business products, institutions, government bodies and agencies, and public and private organizations.
Personal names: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Barbara Walters.
Business firm: Wal-Mart, Mrs. Field’s Cookies.
Business products: Nissan Sentra, Wisk, Dr. Pepper.
Institutions: Adler Planetarium, Stanford University.
Government bodies and agencies: Internal Revenue Service, Civil Rights Commission, Justice Department.
Public organizations: Junior Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts.
Private organizations: Midwest Authors Guild, JoAnn Kilmer Foundation.
2) HYPHENATED NAMES AND PREFIXES
Capitalize all hyphenated names and hyphenated proper nouns. Also capitalize all proper nouns and adjectives used with a prefix, but do not capitalize prefix.
- Send the bill to Mrs. Austin-Healy.
- The Minneapolis-St. Paul project has been approved.
- I am neither anti-British or pro-French; I happen to enjoy both countries equally well.
- He will always be a pro-Kennedy person.
3) FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
Capitalize words describing family relationships only when they substitute for a proper noun or are used with the person’s name. Do not capitalize the words if they are used with a possessive pronoun.
- I told Mother that my sister would be late.
- She described her father to me perfectly.
- Granny Winters and Grampa McDonough are always ready to dance.
- We got a letter from Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill.
- Do you know her cousin Lucia?
4) NATIONALITIES AND RACES
Capitalize the names of nationalities. Racial groups may be lowercased or capitalized. The only firm rule is be consistent. If you capitalize one racial group, capitalize the others as well.
Nationalities: Australian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Cambodian, Japanese, Korean, etc.
Racial groups: Black or black, White or white, Yellow or yellow, etc.
5) LANGUAGES AND SCHOOL SUBJECTS
Capitalize languages and those school subjects followed by a number. Do not capitalize general school subjects unless the subject is a language.
Languages: Arabic, English, Korean, Polish, Khmer, etc.
School subjects: Biology, French, history, literature, Social Science, statistics, etc.
6) RELIGIOUS NAMES AND TERMS
The names of all religions, denominations, and local groups are capitalized.
Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism, Taoism, etc.
Denominations and movements: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodism, Mormonism, Sufism, Theosophy, Zen Buddhism, etc.
Local groups: Church of the Redeemer, Midwest Baptist, Conference, Saint Leonard’s House, Temple Shalom, etc.
The names of deities and revered person: the Almighty, Allah, Lamb of God, Pan, Kali, Child of God, Jehovah, Holy Ghost, Shiva, Egun-gun, The Word, Logos, Mother of God, Kwan Yin, Astarte, etc.
NOTE: However, pronouns referring to deities are not capitalized in today’s style.
Ø Capitalize the names of sacred words or highly revered works and their individual parts.
Example: the Bible, the Talmud, Genesis, Apostles’Creed, the Decalogue, the Koran, the Vedas, the Beatitudes, Epistles, Book of Job, the Book of the Dead, the Tripitaka, the Diamond Sutra, Sermon on the Mount, Acts of the Apostles, etc.
Ø Capitalize religious holidays and terms relating to the Eucharistic sacrament.
Example: Ascension of the Virgin, Christmas, Easter, High Mass, Holy Communion, Lent, Passover, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, etc.
Ø Names of other rites and services are not capitalized in a text.
Example: baptism, bar (bas) mitzvah, confession, confirmation, evening prayer, matins, seder, vesper service, worship service, etc.
7) ACADEMIC DEGREES AND PERSONAL TITLE
Capitalize academic degrees and personal titles used as part of people’s names or as a substitute for their names. Titles used after a person’s name or by themselves generally are not capitalized.
The exception to the rule occurs when the title refers to the highest national, state, or church office, such as the President of the United States. In such cases, the title may be capitalized.
Dr. Marjorie Adamowski
Bernard Stone, Ph. D
Resident Don Roth
Director Ellen Tate
Pope John Paul II
Revernd Alice Milano
General George Custer
Admiral Chester Nimitz
Count von Moltke
Professor Louise Sasaki
Perry Whitehall, M.B.A
Don Roth, president
Ellen Tate, director
the Vice-President (of U.S.)
8) HISTORIC EVENBTS, SPECIAL EVENTS, AND HOLIDAYS
Capitalize the names of historic events and periods, special events, holidays, and other publicly recognized special days.
Battle of Midway
Black History Month
Hundred Year War
Live AID Africa
Midwest Book Fair
National Pickle Week
New Year’s Day
Word War II
9) HISTORICAL MONUMENTS, PLACES, AND BUILDINGS
Capitalize the names of all historical monuments, places, and buildings.
Arlington National Cemetery
the Chicago Loop
the Latin Quarter
the Prudential Building
10) CALENDA DAYS, MONTHS, AND SEASONS
Capitalize the names of all days of the week, and months of the year. Seasons of the year are lowercase unless they are personified.
Days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Months of the year: January, February, March, April, May, June…
Seasons of the year: summer, winter, fall, spring.
Exception: Have we not seen, Summer, your jeweled nights, your days young and fair?
Capitalize the first word and all other words except articles (a, an, the) and prepositions under five letters (in, to, out) in charters, treaties, declarations, laws, and other official documents. However, when the words charter, act, treaty, and law are used alone, they generally are not capitalized.
Articles of Incorporation
Declaration of Independence
Treaty of Orleans
Uniform Commercial Code
12) TITLES OF PUBLICATIONS
Capitalize the first word and all other words except articles, prepositions under five letters in the titles of books, chapters, magazines, articles, newspapers, musical compositions, and other publications.
- Girl of the Golden West (opera)
- No Name in the Streets (book)
- “The Midwest’s Blue-collar Blues” (article)
- “Do Your Own Tune-ups” (chapter)
- Kansas City Star (newspaper)
13) COMPASS POINT
Points of the compass are not capitalized when they refer simply to direction of are used as adjectives. They are capitalized when they refer to regions of the country.
Direction or adjectives: east, west, north, south, southwest, northwest, eastern, western.
Regions of the country: the South, the East, the Southwest, the Northeast, the North Central states.
14) GEOGRAPHIC NAMES AND REGIONS
Capitalize all geographic names and regions of a country, continent, or hemisphere.
Cities, Townships, Countries, States, Continents: California, New York, South America, India, Miles Township, Western Hemisphere.
Islands, Peninsulas, Straits, Peaches: Baja Peninsula, Strait of Magellan, Myrtle Beach, Canary Islands, Strait of Malacca, Seal Island.
Bodies of Water: Aegean Sea, Nile River, Victoria Falls, Lake Tahoe, Tinker Creek, Walden Pond.
Mountains and Mountain Chains: the Andes, Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji, Cascade Mountains, Mount Everest, Pike’s Peak.
Parks, Forests, Canyons, Dams: Aswan Dam, Humboldt Redwoods Forest, Bright Angel Canyon, Serengeti National Preserve, Hoover Dam, Yosemite National Park.
15) SCIENTIFIC TERMS
The rules for capitalizing scientific terms, particularly the divisions of plants and animals, can be complex and bewildering. This section presents some general rules for capitalizing the more common terms that are likely to be used.
a. Common Names of Plants and Animals
Usually, lowercase the names of plants and animals, capitalizing only proper nouns and adjectives used with the names. Check with a dictionary to be sure of accuracy.
Rhode Island red
Rocky Mountain sheep
rose of Sharon
white leghorn fowl
b. Geological Terms
Capitalize the names of eras, periods, epochs, and episodes but not the words era, period, and so on used with the term.
Ice Age (reference to Pleistocene glacial epoch)
Lower Jurassic period
c. Astronomical Terms
Capitalize all proper names of asteroids, planets and their satellites, constellations, and other astronomical phenomena. In many cases, earth, sun, and moon are lowercased unless used with other planets in a sentence.
the Crab nebula
NOTE: Descriptive terms that apply to unique astronomical or meteorological phenomena are not capitalized.
the rings of Jupiter
the moons of Uranus
d. Medical Terms
Lowercase the names of diseases, syndromes, symptoms, tests, drugs, and the like. Capitalize only proper nouns and adjectives or trade names used with these terms.
e. Physical and Chemical Terms
Lowercase laws, theorems, principles, and the like, capitalizing only proper nouns and adjectives used with these terms. Chemical symbols are also capitalized and set without periods.
C14 or C-14
general theory of relativity
Newton’s second law
U238 or U-238
16) CAPITALS WITH NUMBERS
Capitalize a noun or abbreviation before a number when it designates a formal part of a written work.
Act V, Scene 3
Chapter 14 or Chap. 14
Paragraph 3 or Para. 3
Section 44 or Sec. 44