Editing, whether it is for an academic journal, a short story submission, or a non-fiction manuscript for publishing, always follows basic rules of grammar and punctuation. This article will be the first in a series to help you enhance your writing skills. Specifically, this article will explain how to improve your writing using proper capitalization.

Basic editing skills are a must for any writer or editor. Good writing is a hallmark of professionalism. It is also a chance to make a first impression upon a client, supervisor, or potential publisher. While not all of us are born excellent writers, basic grammar and punctuation rules can be learned. 

Capitalization is a necessary grammar skill that can tangle up even the best writers.

A few basic rules of capitalization:

* Capitalize the first word in each sentence.

* Capitalize the first word in a quoted sentence.

* Capitalize I, no matter where in the sentence it appears.

* Capitalize proper nouns.

Some easy ones to remember (and some examples):

* States and countries – Texas, Canada
* Brand names – Gucci, Dr. Pepper, Disneyland
* Religions – Judaism, Roman Catholic
* Days of the week, months, holidays – Thursday, March, Easter
* Magazines, newspapers – Martha Stewart, Detroit Free Press
* Movies, TV shows – New Moon, American Idol

How to Improve Your Writing Using Proper Capitalization

When you have a question about when to capitalize something, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Is this specific?” For example, while you would not capitalize school (noun), you would capitalize Parkside Elementary School.

Directions are tricky; do not capitalize north, south, east, or west, when referring to direction, such as “Go east along I-4.” Capitalize them when used as part of the name of a particular location, such as North Carolina.

Names and titles can be confusing as well, but the following should help clarify when and when not to capitalize.

Always capitalize titles when they precede a name or an organization. For example, Inspector Lukas, or President Harris. Do not capitalize a title when it is referred to in text with no name, such as “The president said he would resign.” You would not capitalize mayor in the following sentence: “Are you the manager?”

But capitalize any title when used in direct address. “Are you ready, Inspector?”

I hope this has been helpful. Please remember that hiring a professional editor, such as the editors at Firstediting, will ensure that your document is perfected and ready for publication.

Editor specializing in fiction editing services for FirstEditing

Originally posted 3/20/2010 and happily updated 11/14/2017. Thanks for reading!

Not sure what YOU really need?

Get Professional Help

Get a free editing sample outlining areas you need to fix before publishing. Discover what works!

Enter your email to subscribe to our newsletter, get free advice and connect with other authors.
I am an author of:  
My email: