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McGraw-Hill/Irwin Business English at Work, 3/e. © 2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Chapter 6. Capitalization. Capitalization Rules. Capitalize the first word in a sentence. . Managing time reduces stress.

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Chapter 6

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Business English at Work, 3/e

© 2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Chapter 6


Capitalization rules

Capitalization Rules

  • Capitalize the first word in a sentence.

Managing time reduces stress.

  • Capitalize proper nouns. Do not capitalize common nouns.

The Benbow Inn is in California.

We attended a time management workshop.

  • Capitalize the names or nicknames of specific persons.

Elena Catelli Nick

PP 6-2a

Capitalization rules1

Capitalization Rules


  • Always capitalize the pronoun I. Do not capitalize other pronouns unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence.

I return my phone calls at 11 a.m.

He kept his urgent papers in a red folder.

  • Capitalize specific names of geographic locations. Do not capitalize general location names.

Kansas City is located in both Kansas and Missouri.

The village of Estes Park is in the mountains of Colorado.

PP 6-2b

Capitalization rules2

Capitalization Rules


  • Capitalize informal substitutions for proper nouns and shortened versions of proper nouns. These substitutions are often referred to as imaginative names and nicknames.

the Oval OfficeAir Force One

Mother Naturea Big Mac

Big Brother (intrusive big government)

the Beltway (Washington, D.C.)

the Big Apple (New York City)

City of Angels (Los Angeles)

the Pacific Rim

PP 6-2c

Capitalization rules3

Capitalization Rules


  • Capitalize adjectives formed from proper nouns. Do not capitalize words formed from proper nouns that are now commonly used and that are no longer identified with those nouns.

Italian leather french fries

Greek food manila folder

Australian hat arabic numbers

Proper AdjectivesCommonly Used Adjectives

PP 6-2d

Companies institutions and clubs

Companies, Institutions, and Clubs

  • Capitalize the first letters of all major words in names of companies, institutions, organizations, and clubs.

  • Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and,but, or, nor), and prepositions with fewer than four letters (of, in, on, by) unless one of these words is the first word of the name.

Valley of the Moon CampInn at the Tides

The Pet PantryUniversity of Wisconsin

PP 6-3a

Companies institutions and clubs1

Companies, Institutions, and Clubs


  • Do not capitalize words such as company, club, institution, or organization when used as general expressions.

company employees

our club’s policies

the mission of the college

PP 6-3b

Departments committees and divisions

Departments, Committees, and Divisions

  • Capitalize the specific names of departments, committees, project teams, or divisions within the organization with which the writer is associated.

The Human Resources Department offers time management seminars.

The Staffing Committee meets once a week.

I work for the Research Division of our company.

PP 6-4a

Departments committees and divisions1

Departments, Committees, and Divisions


  • Do not capitalize names of departments, committees, project teams, or divisions (1) if the names are used in a general way, and you are not sure of the actual name or (2) if the names are not precise.

Call someone in their accounting department about your refund.

I have already contacted someone in your customer service department.

PP 6-4b

Government units

Government Units

  • Capitalize specific official names of foreign, national, state, and local government units.

The Republic of Ireland

National Park Service

  • Capitalize the names of agencies, divisions, departments, offices, commissions, and boards.

Human Services Department

Cultural Heritage Board

  • Capitalize short forms of the names of government units.

the Housethe Congress

PP 6-5



  • Capitalize a social, professional, religious, academic, political, or military title that precedes a name.

Mrs. Jamie Chen Dr. Bruce Comstock

Professor Desha Jackson Mayor Jessica McMurray

  • Capitalize a title that follows the name of a high-ranking foreign, national, or state government official. Capitalize a title that is used to substitute for the complete name of a high-ranking government official.

George W. Bush, President of the United States

Thomas Vilsack, Governor of Iowa

PP 6-6a




  • Do not capitalize the title of a company, institution, or association official that follows a name or that is used as a substitute for a complete name unless practice or tradition indicates to the contrary.

Robin Matthews, president of Evergreen Nursery

Dan Johanson, secretary of United Farm Workers of America

the secretary to the president

PP 6-6b




  • Do not capitalize occupational titles used in a general way.

The manager reviewed our priorities.

  • Capitalize a title used as a substitute for a complete name in a direct address.

When will you vote on the bill, Senator?

  • Capitalize a title used in place of a name in minutes or bylaws.

The President called the meeting to order.

PP 6-6c


Family Titles

Capitalize the title of a family member when it is used by itself or when it is used in direct address.

I always wondered how Father found time to coach Little League.

I will not be home for dinner tonight, Mom.

Capitalize the title of a family member when it precedes a name.

I ride to work with Aunt Julia.

PP 6-7



  • Capitalize the first letters of all the words with four or more letters in the title of a book, magazine, or newspaper.

  • Place these titles in italics.

  • Do not capitalize articles, conjunctions, or prepositions with fewer than four letters unless they are the first or last words in the title.

Ames Daily TribuneTravel and Leisure

The Boston GlobeSports Illustrated magazine

PP 6-8a




  • Capitalize the first letters of all the main words in titles of works such as chapters in books, magazine articles, plays, musical productions, movies, documentaries, speeches, radio and television programs, and poems.

  • Place quotation marks around these titles.

  • Do not capitalize articles, conjunctions, or prepositions with fewer than four letters unless they are the first or last words in the title.

“The Death of a Salesman” (play)

“The Phantom of the Opera” (musical production and movie)

PP 6-8b


Events and Holidays

  • Capitalize the names of historical and current events, holidays, and special events.

Vietnam War


Labor Day

Leukemia Curathon

Summit Avenue Walking Tour

PP 6-9


Acts, Bills, and Laws

  • Capitalize specific titles of laws, acts, codes, and amendments.

Child Safety Law 102

Family and Medical Leave Act

  • Do not capitalize general names of laws, acts, codes, or amendments.

the animal control regulations

several conservation bills

PP 6-10


Academic Degrees

  • Capitalize a specific academic degree that follows a person’s name.

Jan Reynolds, Ph.D, teaches time management.

  • Do not capitalize an academic degree used in a general way.

She received her associate’s degree from Pikes Peak Community College.

PP 6-11



  • Always capitalize names of specific languages.

Mark speaks Danish and Swedish fluently.

This computer program translates English into


PP 6-12


Education Levels, Subjects, and Courses

  • Capitalize a specific education course title.

Office Communications 202

  • Do not capitalize the general name of a course or area of study or a general level of education.

majoring in computer applications at the community college

earning an accounting degree at the university

completed classes in business English and communications

PP 6-13



Capitalize the names of nationalities, ethnic groups, and races.

Native Americans




PP 6-14


Religious References

Capitalize the names of specific religious groups, religious days and books, names of churches, and any adjectives formed from religious terms.



PP 6-15


Days, Months, and Seasons

Capitalize days of the week and months of the year.


Do not capitalize the name of a season unless it is listed with a specific year or is included in the specific name of an event.

summer salesArt in Autumn Festival

PP 6-16


Time Periods

Do not capitalize time periods, decades, or centuries used in a general way.

first-quarter earningsthe last century

Do not capitalize a.m. or p.m. or general times of the day.

The seminar began at 9 a.m.

Our luncheon will start at noon.

PP 6-17

PP 6-17


Compass Directions

Capitalize compass directions when they designate specific regions of the country.

the Far Eastin the South

Capitalize derivatives of specific regions.


Do not capitalize general compass points or directions.

northern Minnesotaeast side of Chicago

turn west on Interstate 5travel north on Ely Road

Capitalize compass points that are part of a street name.

250 South Eastman Lane 312 Swan Drive, SE

PP 6-18



Capitalize an abbreviation representing a proper noun.

UPSUnited Parcel Service

AFLACAmerican Family Life Assurance Company

Capitalize some shortened forms of common nouns.

CPAcertified public accountant

PCpersonal computer

CEOchief executive officer

PP 6-19


Nouns With Letters and Numbers

Capitalize nouns when they precede a letter or number.

Volume 5Highway 126

Do not capitalize the first letters of the words line,paragraph, page, size,and verse when they precede a number.

page 3paragraph 4

PP 6-20


Trademarks, Brand Names, and Product Names

Capitalize trademarks or specific brand names.


Do not capitalize the type of product.

appliances tissues

PP 6-21


First Words

Capitalize the first word of a direct quotation that is a complete sentence.

Brenda said, “We are finishing a project.”

Do not capitalize the first word of a quotation that cannot stand as a complete sentence.

My manager said there is no “free lunch.”

Do not capitalize the first word of the second part of an interrupted quotation.

“Wasted time,” Elaine said, “helps you reduce tension.”

PP 6-22


Capitalizing Words Following a Colon

Capitalize the first word following a colon if two or more complete sentences are involved.

Consider these ideas for overcoming procrastination: Set a deadline and stick with it. Start with small portions of the project.

Do not capitalize the first word of material following a colon if it is not a complete sentence.

Shelly said that time wasters are categorized into two types: internal and external.

PP 6-23a


Capitalizing Words Following a Colon


  • Capitalize the first word of a sentence that follows a colon if the sentence states a formal rule (regulation) or needs emphasis.

Remember: Do priority tasks first.

  • Do not capitalize the first word of a sentence that follows a colon if the sentence simply expands or completes the first part of the sentence.

Michelle had one major goal for the day: she wanted to complete the report.

PP 6-23b


Capitalizing Words Following a Colon

  • Capitalize the first word of a complete sentence that stands by itself in parentheses.


Jessica needs more time to research the project. (She estimates that her research will take a week.)

  • Do not capitalize the first word of a sentence in parentheses that is within a sentence.

The research time (this was expected to take one week) is taking longer than anticipated.

PP 6-23c



  • Capitalize the main words in all headings preceded by a roman numeral.

  • Capitalize the first letter in each word in second-level headings.

  • Capitalize the first word and use lowercase for remaining words in third-level headings.

PP 6-24a





A. Set Goals

B. Prioritize Tasks

1. Attach deadlines

2. Say “no”

C. Prepare “To Do” List

PP 6-24b


Business Letters and

E-mail Messages

  • Capitalize only the first letter of the first word in a complimentary closing.

Sincerely yoursVery truly yours

  • Capitalize the first letter of a salutation or greeting and all nouns that follow. Capitalize the first letters of the main words in a salutation not directed to a specific individual.

Dear Manager:Dear Selection Committee:

Dear Ms. Jackson:

PP 6-25


Inside Addresses in Business Letters

  • Capitalize the first letters of major words in inside addresses.

Ms. Suzanne Briggs

The Law Office of Sheila McCourt

405 Oak Street

Cleveland, OH 44125

PP 6-26

E mail and web site addresses

E-Mail andWeb Site Addresses

  • Do not capitalize e-mail and Web site addresses unless specifically indicated.

  • Use the letters and symbols exactly as indicated by the correspondent or advertiser.

[email protected]

PP 6-27


Addresses on Envelopes

  • Capitalize all letters in all words used in an address on an envelope. Postal guidelines specify this format (including no punctuation marks) for large mailings to allow electronic equipment to read the addresses and speed mail delivery.

  • Using initial capitals and lowercase letters in the inside address is also acceptable as long as the font meets the standards of the United States Postal Service.





PP 6-28


Legal Documents

  • Capitalize amounts of money written in words in legal documents. Do not capitalize the word after the hyphen in written numbers 21 through 99.

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Dollars ($525)

Sixteen Hundred Thirty-one Dollars ($1631)

  • Capitalize every letter in words such as RESOLVED and WHEREAS.

WHEREAS, we the members

PP 6-29

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