By Patricia Vennes | Writing

Sep 28

grammarTo capitalize, or not to capitalize, that is the question. Okay, I realize that using Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from Hamlet for a post about grammar is next to blasphemous, but capitalization is an important thing to look at. (Maybe not as important as pondering the meaning of life as Hamlet is doing, but that’s beside the point.)

An important grammar rule in the English language is punctuation and within this category there are several things you need to drill into your brain so that your blog won’t read like an amature attempting sonnets. There are a few capitalization rules that you need to remember if you want your blog to stand out for its immaculate glory rather than its capitalization mistakes.

1. Capitalize proper nouns. Names of people, places, geographical names, streets, cities, states, holidays, companies, events in history, religions, tribes, languages, days of the week and months, and trademarks. It may seem like a lot to remember, but look at it this way:

Jenny Smith of the United States lives on Mount Baldy. She lives on Mill St. in Phelan, Ca and she celebrates many holidays including Hanuka, the Forth of July, and New Years. Jenny works for Flower Corporations and has a great grandfather who fought in the Korean War. Her great grandfather is Jewish, but he’s from the Navajo tribe that speak Spanish. Jenny works Monday through Friday from January to December every year. She uses an Apple computer.

Looking past the inconsistencies in the above paragraph, we can see that all of the proper nouns are capitalized.

2. Capitalize the title before a person’s name.

Grandmother Rose, Master Yoda, Mayor Palin, Doctor Reed, Professor McDonald, and so on. In all of these cases the person’s title is capitalized. When you say “my grandmother is nice”, you don’t capitzlize “grandmother” because in this case you aren’t using her title with her name. The same is true for Master Yoda, “the master will see you now”.

3. Capitalize important / major words in titles.

When it comes to titles of books, magazines, blog posts, articles, movies, or songs, you need to capitalize the correct words. The first word of any title is always capitalized “A Happy Day” not “a Happy Day”. Here’s where it becomes confusing: if “a”, “an”, or “the” are not in the title, then you do not capitalize them. This rule also applies for FANBOYS (the coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Almost all other words are capitalized because they have substance.


About the Author

Patricia is a graduate of California State University San Bernardino with her BA in English Creative Writing. She writes a health blog at and an English blog at Currently she is working on a sci-fi novel as well as a teen fiction novel and several short stories.

David Gibson September 28, 2009

A few words that drive me crazy when it comes to their capitalization rules are seasons and directions. I work in a university environment and we talk about fall the season and the Fall semester. Why isn't fall, the season, capitalized? Is it proper to capitalize Fall the semester? I usually do because it falls into the places category as a place in time. Which leads me to directions, east, west, north and south. Part of my brain says these are a place on the map .. kinda. I know they are not capitalized but I honestly do not understand why they are not capitalized.


Web 2.0 September 28, 2009

That looks interesting, thanks Patricia…

Patricia Vennes September 28, 2009

Hey David, I hate those tricky words too. Is it fall or Fall? Geez! Could it be any more stupid! However, when you're talking about the season, it's not capitalized but if it's Fall Semester then you do. As for directions, I think that these should be capitalized, but no one asked me what I think. I always have to look up a few capitalization rules just to see if I've messed it up.


Bryan September 29, 2009

I have a friend who writes fiction online and is a professional performer, and he has a habit of capitalizing most nouns in his fiction. His background is Black and Hispanic, but I swear he must have some German in him, because he even capitalizes nouns in his emails! But in his case it's just his personal style. He's aware, as way too many are not, that misplaced capitalization draws too much attention to the words and not enough to the message.

Comments are closed