Capitalize usually means only the first letter of a word rather than the whole word.
Poetry, especially in the style of e e cummings, often ignores punctuation and uses only lower case letters.
Please note that the individual accordion titles in this blog do not follow the rules for artistic titles. (Do what I say, not what the blog does. I set it up wrong at the beginning, and every post would have to be changed. I don’t have that much time.)
- This is a sentence.
- I like cookies, ice cream, chocolate, and lasagna.
- Bethany looked at her watch and said, “This is important. I should leave now.”
- These are times to remember F.D.R.’s words: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
- I really don’t want to stay.
- Where should I go now?
- Betty and I will meet at the theater.
Initial capital letters are used for proper nouns (names—people, places, businesses, days and months, holidays, historical eras, religious deities, etc.). Proper nouns refer to a specific individual or entity.
Names and initials of people and places are capitalized. Initials are spaced with periods. When initials are used alone without periods, they are not spaced.
Some names have little words (which often translate as “of”) with the surname. These may or may not be capitalized, depending upon the use by their person.
Days of the week, months, and holidays are proper nouns. Seasons are not.
- Ronald Reagan
- C. S. Lewis
- New Hampshire
- United Arab Emirates
- Corrie ten Boom
- Carlos de Leon
- General Electric Company
- the White House
- the Roman Empire
- the Midwest
- the Mediterranean Sea
- Walden Pond
- Christmas Eve
- Algebra 101
- World History
- 1601 Fifth Street
- first word and last word
- subordinate conjunctions
- second word in hyphenated words if they would be capitalized by themselves
Do not capitalize
- the three articles (“a,” “an,” “the”)
- the seven FANBOYS
- “to” as an infinitive
- All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
- (First word, pronoun, adverb, verb, [to” not capitalized], verb, pronoun, verb, [preposition not capitalized], noun)
- The Cat Who Brought down the House
- (First word, noun, pronoun, [preposition not capitalized, definite article not capitalized], noun)
Otherwise, such titles are generally not capitalized, even when referring to specific people who are not named.
- Harry S. Truman served as president from 1945 to 1953.
- He was followed by General Eisenhower.
- My favorite pirate, Captain Cook, was never president.
- The graduation address was given by John L. Flannery, CEO and Chairman of General Electric.
- The governor was the last to enter the room.
- The queen ascended to the throne in 1952.
- Ramon Pierce, M.D.
- Albert Carson, Ph.D.
- Jonathan Smith Jones, B.S.E.
Acronyms are not abbreviations. They are created by taking the first letter of each word. They are capitalized all the way through with no periods.
Little words like “and” and “of” are sometimes left out.
If readers might be unfamiliar with such combinations, write out the full name first, then enclose the acronym in parentheses.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) sent Neil Armstrong and others to the moon. NASA continues to develop programs for exploration of space.
- The National Football League (NFL) has two conferences, the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC).
- International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) holds the most US patents generated by a business. IBM sells much more than copiers. (Wikipedia)
- The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) uses a peacock for its logo. NBC also has a sports network, NBC Sports, with Sunday Night Football.
General academic subjects should not be capitalized.
- phys ed
Specific academic classes do require capitalization.
- American History Prior to World War I
- Calculus 301
- Rocket Engineering
- Tennis 102
- Applied Astronomical Research
If a complete sentence follows a colon, its first letter should be in upper case.
- Lori went to town for tractor supplies: axle grease, hydraulic fluid, and assorted nuts and bolts.
- Hector has never done well in some subjects—history, science, or math; but he excels in music.
- The small-town zoo displayed a variety of “exotic” animals (llamas, pheasants, zebras, bison, and even a raccoon).
- These three people have read my manuscript: Paula, Regina, and Samuel.
- He had only one thought: He wanted to get out of the cave fast.