Capitalization Rules


Capitalization refers to the use of capital letters for example, A instead of a and J instead of j. The use of capital letters helps readers read the article or script or writing without any confusion. The present day Capitalization aims to clarify the meaning of the text, leaving the capital letter indicate that there is a new thought. Most of the things that are capitalized in English are what is called Proper Nouns. They are the names of specific, distinctive things.

A proper noun is the name of specific things or distinctive things, it has two unique features: 1) it names a specific item, and 2) it begins with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a complete sentence.

We all have names. Whether you are a Jack, a Riya, a David or a Maria, you go roughly by a kind of name. Because names refer specifically to us, they are proper nouns. Similarly we all also have specific places where we like to shop or meet friends. You might like to shop at Westside or, meet a friend at Coffee Day. Because these names refer to specific places, they, too, are proper nouns. Even the names of the sneakers we wear, and the Hospitals we visit, because they refer to a specific brand name - Nike, Adidas, or Cloud Hospital - are proper nouns.

If a person is talking about one specific mountain (Mt. Everest), state (Delhi), use a capital letter for every word in the name. However, when common things are spoken about of which such as a mountain,or a state don’t use a capital letter for those words.

Capitals are not used in case of an article (a, an, the) or prepositions (for, in, of, on, to, with, etc.).
Upper Case letters are called "Capitals

Rules of Capitalization

The Rules of Capitalization are mentioned below:

1. Capitalize the first letter of the first word in any sentence.

Sonia likes Lindt chocolates.
She left a message on my phone.

2. Capitalize the Pronoun I and the interjection O or Oh.

I graduated from the University of New York.
Oh, I was supposed to tell you about a party.

3. Capitalize the deity, person names and initials, place names, languages, organization names, street names and specific education course names. 

God has control, James T. McBrown, Ganga River, New York City, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Harvard University, Modern American History, Algebra, Science, French, Latin, Red Cross, Wall street etc. 

4. Capitalize Mom, Father, and other titles if you can insert the person’s name and titles like Major and Grandpa. If you can replace the “mom/mother” or “dad/father” with the person’s formal name, in such a case “Mom/Mother” and “Dad/Father” should be capitalized. 
  • Father is really my best friend. 
  • Tresa is really my best friend.

In a case when the “mom/mother” or “dad/ father” cannot be replaced with the person’s formal name then “mom/mother” or “dad/ father” should not be capitalized. 
  • My mother is really short. 
  • Fred is really tall

5. Capitalize the first letter of the first word in each new poetry line if the poet has capitalized it. 

What is so rare as a day in July?

6. Capitalize days, months, special days and holidays.

  • Friday, September, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Diwali, Independence Day, Martin Luther King Day. 
  • Today is July 17, 2012.
  • Susan’s birthday is this Thursday.

7. Capitalize historical events, documents, periods, or movements but not the small words that surround them. 
  • World War 1 ( not In World War 1 )
  • Declaration of Independence ( not Declaration Of Independence)
  • Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance began in the 14th century.
  • Romantic Movement
8. Capitalize specific places, geographic locations, or structures. Capitalize directions ( North, South, East and West) when used as sections of a country but not as compass directions. For Example : we capitalize the Middle East and Southeast America, because these regions have their own distinctive identity; nonetheless we write central Europe and southwest Rome, because these regions do not have the same kind of identity. Just like then difference between South Africa and southern Africa.
  • The Tapp’s have moved to the Northwest. 
  • Lean’s house is three miles south of Providence. 
  • Turn east at the next corner
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • the Midwest

9. Capitalize the names of organizations, institutions and business.
  • The European Red Cross
  • American Airlines
  • CPA Council of India
  • National Accreditation and Assessment Council

10. Capitalize the Roman numerals and the letters of the first major topics in an outline.

A, B, C,  I, II, III, IV, V

11. Capitalize religions and their followers

Judaism, Hindu, Christianity, Islam, Jew, Christian, Orthodox

12. Capitalize religious terms for sacred persons and things.

Koran, the Bible, Allah, Buddha, Christ

13. Capitalize the names of languages, races, and nationalities. 

Native American, Portuguese, English, Tamil, Brahmin

14. Capitalize the first word of a direct quotation.

My daughter asked, "Will you buy me a barbie doll for my birthday?"

15.  In a broken quotation, capitalize the first word in the second part of the quotation only if it starts a new sentence. 

“I’ll start the meeting,” she said, “ if you will finish it after lunch.”
“I’ll start the meeting,” she said. “You can finish it after lunch.”  ( where You starts a new sentence )

16. Do not capitalize the report of something said. 

My son asked if I would buy him  a bicycle for his birthday. 

17. Capitalize the brand names but not the products.

Xerox, Nike, Mango, Kenneth Cole, shoes, tissues

18. Capitalize titles when they precede proper names, but not when they are used alone or they follow proper nouns. 
  • Superintendent O’Conner
  • Principal Walter
  • Example: Mr. Walter, principal; Mr. O’Conner, superintendent
19. Capitalize the titles of books, films and plays. 

Example: The Da Vinci Code, Romeo and Juliet, The Secret Life of Bees, Message in a Bottle

20. Capitalize the names of mountains, volcanoes, hills, mountain ranges, etc. 
  • Mountain - Mt. Olympus, Mount Mc Kinley, Mount Fuji
  • Mountain range - the Appalachians, Himalayas, Bynar Range, 
  • Hill - San Juan Hill, Vatican Hill, Chocolate Hills, Signal Hill
  • Volcano - Mt. Vesuvius, Mount Hood, Glacier Peak, Mount St. Helens
Remembering the Rules where the first letter of each word stands for a category:

F - First letter in a sentence
B - Buildings (and other man-made structures)
B - Borders (of regions, states, countries, etc.)
T - Titles
P - People
I - I
S - Schools
W - Water
M - Mountains
S - Streets