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Using Capital Letters.  Les Hanson 2002. This presentation reviews the rules you already know as well as some of the tricky aspects of capitalization. It deals with the following topics:. Titles Names. Overview. Sentences Lists. In general, specific names require capitals.

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Using Capital Letters

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Using capital letters

Using Capital Letters

 Les Hanson 2002


This presentation reviews the rules you already know as well as some of the tricky aspects of capitalization.

It deals with the following topics:




  • Sentences

  • Lists

  • In general, specific names require capitals.

    • Lake Superior, Fred, Great Depression

  • General names do not require capitals

    • the prairies, my uncle, a recession



  • Capitalize the first word of a sentence

  • And the first word of a quoted sentence

    • She said, “You are funny .”

  • Don’t capitalize the second part of a fragmented quotation

    • “You are funny,” she said, “and so is your mother.”

  • Don’t capitalize partial quotes

    • He talked of the “plausible deniability” of the scheme.



  • Capitalize sentences that follow a colon.

    • Remember this: Grammar is fun!

  • Capitalize the first word of each item in a vertical list

    • These punctuation marks are confusing:

      • Colons

      • Semicolons

      • Dashes

  • Don’t capitalize words in horizontal lists

    • Language is made up of numerous parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

Titles of books articles and songs

Titles of books, articles, and songs

  • Capitalize the first, last, and all important words in a title

  • Don’t capitalize short articles, prepositions, and conjunctions

    • As You Like It

    • The Merry Wives of Windsor

    • Love’s Labours Lost

    • Taming of the Shrew

    • The Merchant of Venice

Names and titles

Names and Titles

  • Capitalize the specific names of people, places, and institutions

    • Stockwell Day, Alberta, Canadian Alliance

  • But not general references

    • party leader, communist, fascist, right wing

  • Capitalize titles that precede names

    • Prime Minister Chretien, Aunt Polly

  • But not when used alone, or after names

    • The minister was a help to the grieving family.

    • Bill, my uncle, sat beside Gary Doer, premier of Manitoba.

Names of groups

Names of Groups

  • Capitalize races, religions, and languages

    • Bosnian, Buddhism,French, Cree

  • Do not capitalize general references

    • aboriginal, white, black, fundamentalist

  • Some words vary according to usage

    • A native speaker of English

    • A Native from the Yukon (used as a substitute for “Indian”

    • Australian Aborigines have certain aboriginal rights

Product names

Product Names

  • Capitalize brand names and trademarks

    • Coke, Kleenix, Roller Blades, Popsicle

  • Do not capitalize generic product names

    • cola, tissues, inline skates, flavoured ice

  • Capitalize words derived from proper nouns

    • Freudian slip, Swiss cheese, English muffin

  • Eventually such words lose their capitals

    • pasteurize, french fry, panama hat, scotch

Dates and directions

Dates and Directions

  • Capitalize days of the week, months, holidays

    • Monday, June, Thanksgiving

  • But not seasons

    • summer, fall, winter

  • Don’t capitalize directions

    • I drove north for two blocks

  • Unless it refers to a specific location

    • Fighting broke out in the Middle East

    • Winter roads are common in the North

Course names

Course Names

  • Capitalize specific names of courses

    • History 101, Intermediate Basket-weaving, a Bachelor of Arts degree

  • But not general references to courses

    • geography, communication, accounting

    • He is studying engineering

Interactive exercise

Interactive Exercise

  • Click on the buttons below or key in the links to do interactive exercises on capitalization (and to receive a dose of Winnipeg trivia)



Capitalization 1

Capitalization 2

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