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Use capitalization to indicate proper nouns, specific geographical locations, professional titles preceding names, etc. To determine if a word should be capitalized, consult a dictionary.


Capitalize professional positions when they are used with the person's name.

Ex: We gained an understanding of that issue from Professor Pantz.

Capitalize academic subjects only when referring to the specific course's full name and number.

Ex: The Literature 2401 class doesn't have enough students in it.

Capitalize only names of academic subjects that relate to languages.

Ex: I studied history last year, but this year I intend to study English.

When people's titles are used without their names, only capitalize the titles when they refer to individuals with high rank.

Ex: Yesterday, the President voted to renew the engineer's contract.

Capitalize "north, south, east, and west" only when referring to specific regions but not when discussing a specific direction.

Ex: My mother grew up in the South.
Ex: That plant is two miles south of Dempsey City.

Capitalize most religious terms.

Ex: He read the Koran in three months.

Capitalize major words in titles but use small case letters for articles (a, an, the) and short prepositions (in, on, at, to, etc.).

Ex: I read Gone with the Wind when I was in junior high.

Capitalize words that indicate family relationship only when they are not used with possessive structures.

Ex: She told me that my father forgot his glasses.
Ex: I will take Mom and Dad to dinner to celebrate their anniversary.

Capitalize organizations, institutions, and government agencies.

Ex: She sent a check to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Capitalize holidays, days of the week, and months.

Ex: Return the books by Labor Day to avoid a late fee.

Capitalize specific places.

Ex: She plans to visit the Sahara Desert.

Names of seasons do not need to be capitalized.

Ex: Ellen will return to Maine in the fall.

You can test your understanding of this handout by completing Student Success Center exercises available here.