Capitalization Rules

Should you capitalize or not? Refer to the below list of capitalization rules for most general writing and correspondence.

Also See:

Punctuation and Capitalization
•Capitalize the First Word of a Sentence

She is a very respectable girl.
How can you jump so high?
Captain of the ship is having lunch with us.

•For titles of books, magazines, journals, plays capitalize first and last words and all the words except for the articles, prepositions, conjunctions with less than 5 letters.(a, the, for...)

Gone with the Wind
The Boston Globe
I Am America
Pride and Prejudice

•Proper nouns, including the names of racial and ethnic groups; countries, nationalities, their languages, religious, etc. are capitalized.

Robin Williams
Mr. Perkins

Proper Adjectives

Italian-style pasta
a British accent

•Capitalize the names of specific places, regions, parks, mountains, streets...

Sun Valley Road
Elm Street
the West Coast
Mount Everest

•Names of the weeks, months, holidays

Friday, July, Veterans Day...

Note: Centuries and decades are not capitalized.

the twenty-first century, the eighties (the '80s)

•Governmental assemblies, departments and bureaus

the United States Congress
the Federal Bureau of Investigation
the Department of Homeland Security

Note: Articles, conjunctions and prepositions shorter than 5 letters are not capitalized.

•Titles of rank when they precede a specific name

Governor Schwarzenegger, Mr. Duncan, Mayor Edwin
governor of California, mayor of San Francisco

Note: Some higher rank titles may be capitalized even without a proper name.

The President arrived yesterday.

•Titles and abbreviations of titles that follow a name when addressing the person

Edgar Davids, Esq.
Maxim Smith, Editor

•Names referring to God by any religions and the names of sacred literature

Lord, King of Kings, Allah, the Bible, the Koran, Buddha

Note: The pronoun he, his, him is capitalized if it's referring to God.

The man prayed to God hopping He might save him.

•Historical events, periods, documents

the Vietnam War
the Stone Age
the Declaration of Independence

•The Pronouns "I"

I am a student.
Jerry and I are building a castle.
Why do I have to go?

•Proper nouns, brand names (shampoo, automobiles, ships, people, monuments, mountains...)

John, Colgate tooth paste, BMW, Ford, the Gateway Arch Memorial, University of Berkeley

•Capitalize all words in titles of distinction

Vice President
First Lieutenant

•Capitalize abbreviations of capitalized words


•Directions north, south, east, west... are capitalized IF they are used as a noun referring to a particular area of a country

I am going to drive north. (direction as adverb and not capitalized)
We live in the Northeast. (this one is a particular area and used as a noun)

•Do not capitalize father, mother, uncle, aunt... unless they are used as proper names

Uncle Sam, Mother Mary
my uncle, her mother

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