Capitalization by Shonell Bacon

By • Jul 1st, 2009 • Category: The Write Life for YouEmail This Post Email This PostPrint This Post Print This Post
 
Becoming a Lifelong Learner of the Craft of Writing   

By author, editor, educator Shōn Bacon aka ChickLitGurrl™ 

Capitalization

Yep. 

Not only must you have a great story, but you also need to know capitalization rules. 

And a whole mess of other things – some already discussed and some to come. 

But alas…now, CAPITALIZATION. 

What I want to provide you with are a few capitalization rules that are important to remember. 

Some of these will sound SO obvious, but having been an editor for the last seven years, I can tell you…writers (including myself) often miss the most obvious of mistakes while rereading and revising their work. 

So, without further ado, we should capitalize…  

1.  The first word of every sentence.

 2.  The first-person singular pronoun, I. 

3.  The first, last, and important words in a title. Important words are typically not articles, short prepositions, the “to” of an infinitive, and conjunctions.  The title “Death At The Double Inkwell” – correctly capitalized?  Nope.  “At” is a preposition and “the” is an article; “Death at the Double Inkwell” would be correct. 

4.  Proper nouns.

Proper nouns represent unique entities (such as ParisMars or Calvin); whereas, common nouns describe a class of entities (such as cityplanet or person).

 I went to see my Doctor today.

Did you join the Military?

I used to date him in High School.

I need to talk to my Mother.

She was a Nurse at the Hospital where I gave birth.

 See anything wrong with the above bold words?  They are capitalized when they don’t have to be. 

I see these types of errors a lot in manuscripts I edit.  Why should these words be lowercased?  Because they are not specific, because they are not unique entities; they are not proper nouns.

 Doctor is generic, common; however, Doctor Bacon is not.

The Military is generic, common; however, the U.S. Army is not.

High School is generic, common; however, Catonsville High School is not.

Mother is generic, common, when you are merely referring to her (or an aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother, etc.) especially in a possessive way – like my mother or his grandfather; however, if you are calling your mother, naming your mother…Mother, then it’s not generic; it’s a name.  For example:  When Mother calls me, I pick up, never fail.

Nurse and Hospital are generic, common; however, seeing Nurse Jane at Memorial Hospital is not. 

5.  Brand names:  Pepsi, Coca Cola, Ford.

 6.  The names of God, specific deities, religious figures, and holy books

God the Father

the Virgin Mary

the Bible

Moses

Shiva

Buddha

Zeus

Exception: Do not capitalize the non-specific use of the word “god.” 

7.  Titles preceding names, but not titles that follow names

Example:  Mayor Darius Connor came to visit our college today.

Example:  Darius Connor, mayor of Sunnytown, came to visit our college today.

 8.  Direction words (north, south, east, and west) should only be capitalized when they refer to a region or section of a country. 

Examples: 

The West offers great opportunities for careers in entertainment.

To get to Hammonds Diner, go east four blocks and make a left; it’s on the corner. 

 Do you have capitalization rules that will benefit other writers?  Share them in the comments! 

 Thanks for checking me out @ The Write Life for You; come back next month – I’ll be talking about Punctuation. 

ChickLitGurrl ~ signing out 

Shōn

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10 Responses »

  1. My question relates to religious capitalization. When referencing God through pronouns, do you capitalize He, Him, etc., if they are not the first words of the sentence? e.g. If God wanted me to marry you, He would have spoken to me directly.

  2. Good question…I work in a Press Office and we do…curious to hear what Shonie says.

  3. Great article, Shon. Can’t wait for punctuation because that and grammer are what I see a lot in my reading.

    Lareeta

  4. Excellent info

  5. I believe it’s correct to capitalize He/Him when referring to God.
    Great article as always, Shon. I learned this recently in an english class. And a refresher is always nice.

  6. Hey there, Donna…and others, :-)

    You know, I’ve seen ‘scripts in which the pronouns referring to God are capitalized, and many conclude this is bad grammar.

    A lot of people capitalize the pronoun because they have absolute respect for God and illustrate it in their writing of He and Him and His as it relates to God…and Jesus, too, for that matter.

    The problem is no one has been consistent enough in rules to illustrate why (except to show how much respect we have for God) capitalizing the pronouns is a good idea.

    It makes it hard to see the right way to capitalize when we look at versions of the Bible that have the pronouns capitalized and then other versions that do not. It makes it hard to see the right way to capitalize when some people don’t believe in God and go as far as to not even capitalize God let alone the pronouns that refer to God.

    But for all grammatical purposes, you should lowercase pronouns for God.

  7. […] to APOOOBOOKS.COM to read my latest article in The Write Life for You […]

  8. This was a great post. Thank you much!

  9. I’m glad to see these capitalization rules. I always get confused. Sometimes I just don’t know.

  10. I get confused on some, too. I’m always with a grammar handbook when I write, lol
    .-= Shon Bacon´s last blog ..Making Fiction out of Real Life =-.