There are five main things that you need to capitalize: the first letter in a sentence or direct quote, titles of writing and other creative works, proper nouns, the pronoun I, and abbreviations.

Sentences: Starting with a Capital

The first rule is easy. Every time you start a sentence, use an uppercase letter. So, for a word that follows a period, exclamation mark, question mark, or is the first word in your writing, press the shift key.

Wrong: the shift key on my computer is broken. that’s why everything is lowercase.

Right: The shift key on my computer is broken. That’s why everything is lowercase.

You also need to shift up when you have a direct quote (a quote that uses quotation marks) because it’s like a separate sentence, even if it’s included inside another sentence.

If you have a broken quotation (where you start the quote, have some non quoted writing, and then continue the same quoted sentence), don’t capitalize the second part of the quote.

Wrong: The lesson about capitalization begins, “there are five main things that you need to capitalize”. “making simple mistakes is embarrassing,” thinks Amy, “So I better learn those rules.”

Right: The lesson about capitalization begins, “There are five main things that you need to capitalize”. “Making simple mistakes is embarrassing,” thinks Amy, “so I better learn those rules.”

Titles: Just the Important Words

Titles of writing, music, films, and art are on the list of things to capitalize, but you need to be discerning: not every word in the title gets capitalized. So here are the three rules for titles:

1. capitalize the first and last words
2. capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, subordinate conjunctions, and interjections
3. make everything else lowercase

If you ever forget these rules, just go to this website and type in your title. Voila! Perfectly capitalized.

Wrong: seven secrets you need to use for the perfect blog post

Wrong: Seven Secrets You Need To Use For The Perfect Blog Post

Right: Seven Secrets You Need to Use for the Perfect Blog Post

Nouns: Only the Proper Ones

What is a proper noun? Well, it’s just a noun that refers to something specific. Improper nouns aren’t worse than proper nouns; they just apply to broader categories. For example, your father is a dad (improper noun), but you might call him Dad (proper noun, since that’s his name).

Here are some more examples of proper nouns:

Names: Barack Obama, Crowd Content, Coca-Cola
Geographic locations: New York City, Australia, Atlantic Ocean, Saturn
Ethnicities and languages: First Nations, Russian, Thai
Days and months (but not seasons): Sunday, November
Holidays: Christmas, Ramadan, Canada Day
Religions, deities, (and corresponding adjectives): Hinduism, God, Jewish
Titles that are included as part of a name: Pope Francis, Doctor Doolittle, President Lincoln
Historical periods and events: World War II, the Middle Ages

Are you getting the hang of it? If you need more help, here’s a long list of words that should be capitalized.

I Am Always a Capital

Leaving the pronoun “I” in lowercase might be fine for texting, but it’s definitely not professional when you’re writing a blog that you want thousands of people to read. Have a little self-esteem and capitalized your I’s; you deserve it!

(Some) Abbreviations Get All Caps

Usually, a word that’s in all caps SEEMS LIKE IT’S SHOUTING.

“I” is all caps, but it’s so short that you hardly notice it anyway. Another exception to the no all caps rule is abbreviations.

USA, FIFA, and EU go in all caps because they’re proper nouns. In their non-abbreviated form they’re United States of America, Fédération International de Football Association, and European Union.

When you abbreviate, you take the first letter of each word and stick the letters together, without changing the capitalization.

With abbreviations of a single word, only capitalize the first letter:

Wrong: MRS.

Right: Mrs.

Wrong: FR.

Right: Fr.

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