How to use capitalization correctly
Capitalization means that the first letter of a word is written in uppercase letters (capitals) and the rest of the word in lowercase letters. Capitalization is used for the first word of a sentence, proper nounsSee the glossary definition , proper adjectivesSee the glossary definition , well known important objects, days of the week and months of the year, institutions, headings and publication titles, languages and nationalities, and personal titles (honorificsSee the glossary definition ).
Proper nouns include:
- Personal names: Fred Flintstone, Tom, Dick and Harry.
- Objects: The Eiffel Tower, The Rosetta Stone, The Hubble Space Telescope.
- Geographical names: Africa, Angola, Amsterdam.
- Institutions: The World Health Organization, The United Nations, The European Union.
Other nouns and noun phrases not considered proper nouns but which are capitalized:
- Days of the week, months of the year and holidays: Friday, August, Independence Day
- Commercial products, organisations and brands: Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Steinway, Fender
- Titles and Headings: A Tale of Two Cities, Lucky Jim
- Titles and Honorifics: Mr., Doctor, Captain, Professor.
- Languages and nationalities: French, Arabic, Chinese.
- Scientific names (binomial nomenclatureOfficial name of plant or animal consisting of a capitalized generic name and a lower case specific name): Aquila chrysaetosOfficial (scientific) name (Golden Eaglecommon name), RanunuculusGeneric name (the genus) acrisSpecific name (Meadow Buttercup)
- PeopleFirst word of sentence from IndianapolisProper noun (geographical name) use EnglishLanguage differently than people from AlaskaProper noun (geographical name) or GeorgiaProper noun (geographical name).
- AndFirst word of sentence AmericanProper adjective (nationality) EnglishLanguage sounds and works differently than the EnglishLanguage spoken in EnglandProper noun (geographical name), Jamaica Proper noun (geographical name) or IndiaProper noun (geographical name).
- AtFirst word of sentence the end of the mission, on FridayDay of the week, SeptemberMonth of the year 15, 2017, CassiniProper noun (Object: name of a space probe) dived into Saturn'sProper noun (planet) atmosphere.
- YouTubeBrand name , InstagramBrand name and TikTokBrand name are built using the same rules, or protocols, developed by CerfProper noun (Personal name: Vinton Cerf - computer scientist) and Berners-LeeProper noun (Personal name: Tim Berners-Lee - computer scientist).
- DuringFirst word of sentence the decade, the United Nations General AssemblyProper noun (institution) recognised access to water and sanitation as a human right.
- Lewis Carroll’sProper nouns (Personal name: the author) Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandTitle of the famous story has been retold many times.
- ItFirst word of sentence was built by physics ProfessorTitle (honorific - not honorary: he was a real professor) John Vincent AtanasoffProper noun (personal name) and his graduate student, Clifford BerryProper noun (personal name), in 1942 at Iowa State CollegeProper noun (institution), now known as Iowa State UniversityProper noun (institution).
- There'sFirst word of sentence also the EasternProper adjective (geographical name) honey bee (Apis ceranaScientific name) which is managed by beekeepers in rural and remote areas throughout Southeast Asia Proper adjective and noun (geographical name).
You may occasionaly see a capital letter in the middle of a word but these are exceptions to the rule. There are three examples on this page: YouTube, TikTok and Berners-Lee. The first two are brand names, which often contain oddities such as odd capitalization or the inclusion of numerals or unusual typefaces, all with the object of drawing attention. "iPhone" is another example. Berners-Lee is an example of a double-barrelled surname, in this case a hyphenated compound surname.
These examples were sourced from articles in The Conversation:
Water and Development Needs;
What was the first computer?;
How do bees make honey?