Rules for Using Capital Letters

Capitalize the first letter of words in the following situations:

  1. the first word of a sentence:
    • Put the dog in the crate.
  2. proper nouns and proper adjectives, including historic events and documents, days of the week, months of the year, associations, nationalities and their languages, trade names, and celestial bodies:
    • Milton, Freud, Freudian, Minnesota, Minnesotan, United States, American, the Civil War, the Tower of London, the Middle Ages, Friday, April, the House of Representatives; Native American; Irish; African-American, Gaelic, Ford, Frisbee, Mars, the Big Dipper.
    • Mom and Dad are capitalized when they are used as names: When is Mom going to be home? (but When will my mom be home?)
    Note: centuries, seasons, academic years or terms are not capitalized: seventeenth century, summer, freshman year, fall semester.
  3. the first and every important word of titles
    • Guinness Book of World Records
    • The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
    • "Mysteries of Hide-and-Seek"
  4. the first word in directly quoted sentences or dialogue:
    • Then I screamed, "Stop!"
  5. the personal pronoun I when used alone or in contractions:
    • I, I've, I'm.
  6. personal titles when they come before proper names:
    • Professor Justin Blessinger, but Justin Blessinger, professor of English
  7. abbreviations for academic degrees when they come after proper names
    • John Nelson, PhD
  8. abbreviations that indicate time, divisions of government, organizations, businesses, and call letters of radio and television stations:
    • 1000 B.C., YMCA, IBM, KELO
  9. the names of educational institutions, departments, specific courses, and degrees
    • History Department, Bachelor of Arts, Sociology 101; Dakota State University

Gain extra practice using the StudyMate activities below.

Set 1


Last Updated: 8/29/13