A. The first word of every sentence, line of poetry, or direct quotation.
Example: Lydia said, "My lawn doesn't need mowing."
B. Proper nouns, proper adjectives, and titles that precede a name.
Examples: Judge Jones, Uncle James, Chinese food
C. All sacred names, the Bible, and all of its parts, the names of all religious sects, and the names of churches.
We found the quotation in the Old Testament in the "book of Job."
"Follow the Christ, the King..."
St. James Lutheran Church, Jewish, Catholic
D. The months, the days of the week, and all holidays.
Memorial Day, Monday, the fourth of June
Note: The seasons are not capitalized.
E. The words north, south, east, and west when they refer to a part of the country, but not when they refer to a direction.
The company feels that the Northwest offers greater opportunities that the East.
We were driving east.
F. Special events, historical eras, and geographical areas.
the Spanish-American War, the Louisiana Purchase, the Boston Tea Party, the Victorian Era
G. Names of special buildings, organizations, and companies.
Examples: Travelers Insurance Company, the Woolworth Building, Rotary Club
H. Titles of books, documents, stories, poems, musical works, art works, and plays. Capitalize all words in titles except prepositions, conjunctions, and the articles a, an, and the.
Examples: The Story of Bermuda, "On Carrying a Cane"
Note: Prepositions of more than four letters are frequently capitalized.
Examples: "Journey Through Brooklyn"
I. The word president when it refers to the President of the United States.
Example: The President vetoed the bill.
J. The names of abbreviations of educational degrees.
Examples: Master of Science, B.A.
K. The names of all races and nationalities.
Examples: Indian costumes, French soldiers, Mexican food
L. Mother and Father unless they are preceded by such words as my, his, yours, etc.
I knew Father would coach the team.
I knew that my father would coach the team.
M. Capitalize all languages.
Examples: Spanish, English, Latin, Russian
N. Capitalize school subjects which are languages or which have numbers after them. Do not capitalize other subjects.
Examples: He is taking Russian. I plan to take art and algebra. I plan to take Art 101.
Rules For Capitalization
Rule 1: Capitalize the first word in every sentence.
Also capitalize the first word of a formal, direct quotation.
Example: She said, “Please come here.”
He said that he was going to go get his “whippin’ stick.”
Rule 2: Capitalize the pronoun “I.”
Rule 3: Capitalize proper nouns.
Examples: Akron Middle School, Monday, George Bush, America
(1) Names of persons.
(2) Geographical names.(Ohio River, The South is conservative.)
(3) Names of organizations, business firms, institutions, and government bodies.
(4) Names of special events and calendar items.
(5) Historical events and periods.
(6) Names of nationalities, races and religions.
(7) Brand names. (Tide soap, Pepsi Cola cans)
(8) Do NOT capitalize seasons unless they are used in a title (The Winter Formal)
(9) Do NOT capitalize directions (north, south, east, west) unless they are describing a region of the country.
(10) Names of ships, planets, monuments, awards.
*The word earth is not capitalized unless it is listed with other planets. The sun and moon are never capitalized.
Rule 4: Capitalize proper adjectives.
Examples: Greece Greek theater
Congress Congressional hearing
Rule 5: Do NOT capitalize the names of school subjects, except languages and course names followed by a number.
Example: history, typing, English, Spanish, History 101, Music III
Rule 6: Capitalize titles.
(1) Capitalize the title of a person when it comes before a name.
(2) Capitalize a title used alone or following a person’s name if it refers to a high official. (Note: If a title is used in place of a name in direct address, it should be capitalized.
(3) Capitalize words showing family relationship when used with a person’s name unless the name is preceded by a possessive pronoun (Will Aunt Sally… My aunt Sally…)
(4) Capitalize the first and last words and all-important words in titles of books, periodicals, poems, stories, movies, paintings and other works of art.
(5) Capitalize words referring to the Deity. (God, Creator, Almighty) Do not capitalize the word god when it refers to gods of ancient mythology.
1.To separate words in a list or series:
The baby likes grapes, bananas, and cantaloupe.
2.To separate two or more adjectives that come before a noun when and can be substituted without changing the meaning:
He had a kind, generous nature.
The dog had thick, soft, shiny fur.
Do not use the comma if the adjectives together express a single idea or the noun is a compound made up of an adjective and a noun:
The kitchen had bright yellow curtains.
A majestic bald eagle soared overhead.
3.To set off words or phrases in apposition to a noun:
George Eliot, the great 19th-century novelist, was born in 1819.
Do not use commas when the appositive word or phrase is essential to the meaning of the sentence:
The novelist George Eliot was born in 1819.
4.To set off nonessential phrases and clauses:
My French professor, who has an odd sense of humor, has been teaching for some 30 years.
Do not use commas when the phrase or clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence:
The professor who teaches my French class has an odd sense of humor.
5.To separate the independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence:
He lives in New York, and she lives in London.
Some people like golf, but others prefer tennis.
6.To set off interrupters such as of course, however, I think, and by the way from the rest of the sentence:
She knew, of course, that he was lying.
By the way, I'll be away next week.
7.To set off an introductory word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of a sentence:
Yes, I'd like to go with you.
After some years, we met again.
Being tall, she often gets teased.
8.To set off a word in direct address:
Thanks, guys, for all your help.
How was your trip, Kathy?
9.To set off a tag question:
You won't do that again, will you?
10.To introduce a short quotation:
The queen said, “Let them eat cake!”
11.To close the salutation in a personal letter and the complimentary close in a business or personal letter:
Dear Mary, … Sincerely, Fred
12.To set off titles and degrees:
Sarah Little, Ph.D. Robert Johnson, Jr.
13.To separate sentence elements that might be read incorrectly without the comma:
As they entered, in the shadows you could see a figure lurking.
14.To set off the month and day from the year in full dates:
The conference will be held on August 6, 2001.
Do not use a comma when only the month and year appear:
The conference will be held in August 2001.
15.To set off the city and state in an address:
10 Joy Street
Boston, MA 02116
If the address is inserted into text, add a second comma after the state:
Cincinnati, Ohio, is their home.
1. Spell out numbers you can write in one or two words. If the number is greater than 999,999 use figures followed by the word million or billion, and so on, even if the number could be written in two words.
There are twenty-six students in the class.
The arena holds fifty-five hundred people.
1 million 280 billion 3.2 trillion
2. Use numerals for numbers of more than two words.
The distance between the two cities is 150 miles.
3. Spell out any number that begins a sentence or reword the sentence so it doesn’t begin with a number.
Four thousand two hundred eighty-three fans attended the game.
Attendance at the game was 4,283.
4. Numbers of the same kind should be written in the same way. If one number must be written as a numeral, write all numbers as numerals.
On September 8, 383 students voted for the new rule, and 50 students voted against it.
5. Spell out ordinal numbers 9first, second, third, etc.) under one hundred.
The ninth of June will be the couple’s twenty-fourth wedding anniversary.
6. Use words to write the time of day unless you are using A.M. or P.M.
I usually go for a walk at four o’clock in the afternoon. I return home at quarter to five.
The first bell rang at 8:42 A.M., and the last one rang at 3:13 P.M.
7. Use numerals to write dates, house numbers, street numbers above ninety-nine, apartment and room numbers, telephone numbers, amounts of money more than two words, and percentages.
On June 10, 1999, I met Jan at 41 East 329th Street in Apartment 3G. Her telephone number is 555-2121.
I found two dollars.
The book’s original price was $13.95.
Rule 1: Abbreviate the titles Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. before a person’s name. Also abbreviate the professional or academic degrees that follow a person’s name, as well as the titles Jr. and Sr.
Examples: Mr. Ed Wilson Jr. Harry Young, M.D. Dr. Ann Sperry
Thomas Diaz, Ph.D. Ms. Shannon Danko, M.B. A.
Rule 2: Use all capital letters and no periods for abbreviations that are pronounced letter by letter or as words. Exceptions are U.S. and Washington, D.C., which do use periods.
Examples: NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
MVP Most valuable player
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
Rule 3: Use the abbreviation A.M. (ante meridiem, “before noon”) and P.M. (post meridiem, “after noon”) for exact times. For dates use B.C. (before Christ) and sometimes, A.D. (anno Domini, “In the year of the Lord,” after Christ).
Examples: 6:15 A.M. 5:30 P.M. 20 B.C. A.D. 476
Rule 4: Abbreviate calendar items only in charts and lists.
Examples: Mon. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Jan. Mar. Nov.
Rule 5: In scientific writing, abbreviate units of measure. Use periods with abbreviations of English units but not metric units.
Examples: inch in. foot (feet) ft. grams g liters l
Rule 6: On envelopes abbreviate the words that refer to streets in street names. Spell them out everywhere else.
Examples: Street St. Avenue Ave. Road Rd. Court Ct.
Rule 7: On envelopes use state postal service abbreviations for the names of states. Everywhere else, spell out the state names.
Examples: Indiana IN Arizona AZ Alabama AL Delaware DE
Maryland MD Georgia GA Florida FL California CA
Using Apostrophes and Hyphens
Rule 1: Use and apostrophe and –s (‘s) to form the possessive of a singular noun.
girl + ‘s =girl’s Charles + ‘s = Charles’s
Rule 2: Use an apostrophe and as –s (‘s) to form the possessive of a plural noun that
does not end in –s.
women + ‘s = women’s mice + ‘s = mice’s
Rule 3: Use an apostrophe alone to form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in –s.
girls + ‘s = girls’ cities + ‘s = cities’
Do not use an apostrophe in a possessive pronoun.
These skates are hers. Theirs are in the car.
Rule 4: Use an apostrophe to replace letters that have been omitted in a contraction.
A contraction is a word that is made by combining two words into one and
leaving out one or more letters.
it is = it’s you + are = you’re
Rule 5: Use a hyphen to show the division of a word at the end of a line. Always divide
a word between its syllables.
With her husband, Pierre, Marie Sklodowska Curie dis-
covered radium and polonium.
Rule 6: Use a hyphen in compound numbers.
sixty-five essays forty-two experiments
Rule 7: Use a hyphen or hyphens in certain compound nouns. Consult a dictionary to be
great-uncle sister-in-law attorney-at-law editor-in-chief
Using Quotation Marks and Italics
Rule 1: Use quotation marks before and after a direct quotation.
* “Sojourner Truth was born enslaved,” said Jillian.
Rule 2: Use quotation marks around each part of an interrupted quotation.
* “She was,” explained John, “a great fighter against slavery.”
Rule 3: Use a comma or commas to separate a phrase such as he said from the quotation itself. Place the commas outside opening quotation marks but inside closing quotation marks.
* Beth said, “Sojourner Truth became free in 1828.”
* “She finally received her freedom under a New York law,” Libby added.
Rule 4: Place a period inside the closing quotation marks.
* Ian declared, “Sojourner Truth preached concern for the welfare of others.”
Rule 5: Place a question mark or an exclamation mark inside the quotation marks when it is part of the quotation.
* Justin asked, “Did she find jobs for enslaved persons who escaped?”
Rule 6: Place a question mark or an exclamation mark outside the quotation marks when it is part of the entire sentence but not part of the quotation.
* Did Greg say, “Sojourner Truth visited President Lincoln”?
Rule 7: Use quotation marks for the title of a short story, essay, poem, song, magazine or newspaper article, or book chapter.
* “Scout’s Honor” (short story)
* “Shenandoah” (song)
* “The Tyger” (poem)
Rule 8: Use italics (underlining) to identify the title of a book, play, film, television series, magazine, or newspaper.
* Where the Red Fern Grows (book title)
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (book title)
* National Geographic (magazine)
* The Buffalo News (newspaper)
Using Semicolons and Colons
Rule 1: Use a semicolon to join parts of a compound sentence when a conjunction such as and, but, or or is not used. Remember that a compound sentence has two or
more simple sentences that are joined by a conjunction.
· Albert Einstein made many discoveries in science; his theory of relativity
changed scientific thought.
· Einstein was born in Germany in 1879; he moved to the United States in
· Einstein liked classical music; he played the violin.
Rule 2: Use the colon to introduce a list of items that ends a sentence. Use a phrase such as these, the following, or as follows before the list.
· A list of the greatest scientists in history usually begins with these names: Newton and Einstein.
· Einstein’s relativity theory advanced new ideas about the following: time, space, mass, and motion.
· Einstein wrote his famous equation as follows: E=mc2.
Do not use a colon immediately after a verb or a preposition. Either leave out the colon, or reword the sentence.
* Einstein studied mathematics, physics, and English.
* During his lifetime he lived in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States.
Rule 3: Use a colon to separate the hour from the minute when you write the time of day.
* Einstein’s train left Princeton at 10:05 A.M. and arrived in New York City
at 2:30 P.M.
Rule 4: Use a colon after the salutation of a business letter.
* Dear Sir or Madam:
* Dear Mrs. Williams: