Capitalization Rules in English: A Guide
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It is important to have a basic idea of capitalization, especially when it comes to academic writing, as some rules may be tricky. Yes, you probably know that the first word of every sentence, proper nouns, and dates should be capitalized, but there is much more to it than that. There are some basic capitalization rules in English that you should keep in mind when writing your research work.
What to capitalize:
1. The first word of every sentence
This is already well-known, simply capitalize the initial word at the beginning of every sentence, such as this sentence.
2. Names and proper nouns
Names (Adam) are always capitalized. If it is a name, it should always be capitalized.
3. Major words used in titles and headings
Regarding the capitalization of the titles of movies, books, songs, or any other well-known media of any form, the general rule is to capitalize verbs, nouns, adjectives and any proper names in the title. Other words such as prepositions, articles, and conjunctions should remain lowercase.
4. The word at the beginning of a quote
If a complete sentence has been quoted, capitalize it. If it is not a complete sentence and is in quotes, it does not need to be capitalized. For example: The researcher mentioned that “The X Theory involves Y and Z.”
5. Holidays, months and days of the week
Any holiday (Easter), month (April) or day of the week (Saturday) should always be capitalized.
6. Languages, nationalities, and location names
Any location name, such a street name (Atlantic Street), region (New York Area), city (Brooklyn), town (Cooperstown), state (New York), country (The United States) or continent (North America) should be capitalized. This also applies for nationalities (American) and languages (English).
7. Known events
Well-known historical (The Declaration of Independence) and recent events (The COVID-19 Pandemic) should also be capitalized.
Abbreviations, especially in academic writing, should be capitalized. For example: The X Theory (XT) states that…
What not to capitalize:
1. Don’t capitalize the first word following a semicolon.
Any word following a semicolon should not be capitalized; it should remain lowercase, like this.
2. Job positions and titles
Job positions and titles (hiring manager) should not be capitalized.
3. Names of school or university courses
Courses should not be capitalized (mathematics).