Capitalization Tips

Read these 13 Capitalization Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Writing tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Wehn are words lilke "east" and "west" capitalized?

Writing (Communications): Directions versus geographic locations

If it's a part of the world in which people live, capitalize it. (e.g., Have you ever visited the Far East?) If it's compass direction, keep it in lower case. (e.g., How far east do I have to travel in order to reach Syracuse?)

   
When do I capitalize compass points?

Compass Points

Capitalize north, south, east, west, and derivative words when they designate definite regions or are part of a proper noun.

in the North
down South
back East
out West
the Middle West
the North Pole
the West Coast

   
How do I capitalize poetry?

Poetry

Capitalize each line in a poem. However, if you're quoting a poem, then follow its style.

From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.
--T. S. Eliot

   
When do I capitalize a noun followed by a number?

Capitalization and Numbers

Capitalize a noun followed by a number or a letter that indicates sequence.

Exceptions: Do not capitalize: line, note, page, paragraph, size, step, or verse.

Examples:
Account 1210
Act 2
Appendix B
Book IV
Chapter VI
page 7
line 2
Room 100
verse 3

   
Do I capitalize the word "state"?

State

Capitalize the word "state" only when it follows the name of the state or is part of the nickname.

New York State is also called the Empire State.
The state of Texas is the second largest in the Union.

   
When do I capitalize compass points?

General Directions

Do not capitalize compass points when they merely indicate direction or general location.

Many people have relocated from the West to the Middle West. (regions)
Go south on Route 66 and then west at the stop sign. (direction)
The west coast of the United States borders on the Pacific. (shoreline, not the region)
John lives on the West Coast. (region.)

   
Do I capitalize words that used to be proper nouns?

Common Nouns

Some expressions that originally contained proper nouns are now common nouns and are not capitalized.

charley horse
plaster of paris
manila envelope
bone china
napoleon (the dessert)
boycott
diesel
macadam
ampere
watt
joule
kelvin
texas leaguer
arabic numbers
roman numbers (but: Roman laws)

   
Do I capitalize lists?

Items In a List

Capitalize each item in a list or an outline.

Here are the items I need:
* Long-handled screwdriver.
* Ball-ping hammer.
* Drill press.

   
How do I capitalize poetry?

Capitalization of Poetry

Capitalize each line in a poem. However, if you're quoting a poem, then follow its style.

From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.
--T. S. Eliot

   
Do I capitalize family titles?

Family Titles

Do not capitalize family titles when they are preceded by a possessive.

Let me ask my mother and dad if I can go to the movies.
I'm on the phone with my aunt.

   
Do I capitalize nicknames?

Nicknames

Capitalize nicknames that designate specific persons, places, or things.

the Founding Fathers
the First Lady
the White House
the Oval Office
the Stars and Stripes
the Gopher State (Minnesota)
Mother Nature
a Good Samaritan
Fannie Mae (from the initials FNMA, the Federal National Mortgage Association)
Bubba
the Gray Panthers
Whoopi Goldberg
Big Mac
the Establishment
Down Under (Australia)
a Green Beret
the Little Dipper
the Top 40
Bloody Mary
the Third World

   
Do I capitalize a question in a sentence?

Question Within a Sentence

Capitalize an independent question within a sentence.

The question is, How much are you willing to spend?

   
Do I capitalize family titles?

Family Titles

Capitalize words like "mother" and "father" when they stand alone or are followed by a personal name.

I'll ask Mother and Dad if I can go to the movies.
I'm on the phone with Aunt Mary.

   
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