Capitalization

When to use capital letters is a complicated matter; here we mention only a few common occasions. You will find more thorough discussions in dictionaries and in style books like The Chicago Manual of Style, 13th Edition, published by The University of Chicago Press.

t> Capitalize Titles

The first and last words of a literary title should be capitalized, as should all words in-between except articles an, the), short prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions:

The City of Women The Call of the Wild

However, when an article follows a stop in the title (such as a colon or comma), it is usually treated as a second "first" word and capitalized:

Charles Dickens, The Last of the Great Men

Remember that the titles of works published or presented separately (books, magazines, plays, long poems, films) are italicized (underlined), while those published as part of something larger are set in quotes (articles, short stories, most poems, and also television and radio programs).

> Capitalize the First Word of a Quotation

The opening word of quoted speech is capitalized, whether it begins a sentence or not. However, when a quotation is bro ken, the first word of the continuation is not capitalized unless it is a proper noun or adjective or begins a new sentence:

He said, "We liked the movie very much." "We," he said, "liked the movie very much."

With written quotations capitalization of the first word depends on whether the quotation is introduced after a stop or is worked into the sentence as a noun clause following that. In the first example which follows, the quotation begins with a capital; in the second, it does not, even though it may have done so in the original:

G. K. Chesterton writes: "This is the real vulgar optimism of Dickens. . . ."

G. K. Chesterton writes that "this is the vulgar optimism of Dickens. ..."

I> Capitalize Proper Names and Adjectives

A proper name is the designation of a particular person, place, structure, and so on. A proper adjective is a modifier derived from such a name.

Specific People

Harry Jones, Mary Winter, C. S. Lewis

When the name includes a particle, the particle should be spaced and capitalized (or lowercased) according to accepted usage for that name:

Gabriele D'Annunzio Charles de Gaulle

Nouns, verbs, and modifiers derived from proper names are not capitalized when used in a sense generalized from their origin:

Charles Mackintosh BUT a mackintosh coat the French language BUT french doors

But if a proper adjective is used in a specialized sense closely related to the name from which it derives, it should be capitalized:

He had a de Gaullean sense of country.

Personal Titles

Capitalize these when they are part of a name but not otherwise:

Judge Harry Jones BUT Harry Jones was made a judge. Professor Mary Winter BUT Mary Winter became a professor.

National and Racial Groups and Their Languages

Amerindian Mexican Australian Polish German

Places: Continents, Islands, Countries, Regions, and so on

China, Chinese North America, North American

Europe, European Manhattan, Manhattanite the East Coast 42 nd Street

New Jersey, New Jerseyan the North Pole

When a regional name is a common term given specific application (like the Midwest of the United States), an adjective derived from it may or may not be capitalized. Consult a dictionary or style manual for specific cases:

the Far East, Far Eastern history the Midwest, midwestern cities

Structures: Names of Buildings, Bridges, and so on the Brooklyn Bridge the Empire State Building

Institutions and Businesses

Kearny High School BUT a high school in Kearny Columbia University BUT a university in the city the Boston Symphony Orchestra BUT a symphony orchestra General Motors BUT the motor industry

Governmental Agencies and Political Parties the U.S. Congress BUT a congressional district the Supreme Court BUT a municipal court the Democratic Party BUT democratic countries

School Subjects and Courses

The subjects you take in college or high school are not capitalized unless they derive from proper nouns (this means language courses only):

anthropology BUT English chemistry BUT French history BUT German philosophy BUT Latin

Names of particular courses, however, are capitalized since they are, in effect, titles:

biology BUT Biology 201 physics BUT Physics

Personification ^

When personified (that is, endowed metaphorically with human qualities) abstractions such as peace, war, winter are capitalized. In their conventional uses they are not:

We had a late spring last year.

Last year Spring arrived reluctantly, hanging her head and dragging her feet.

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