Why is it important to follow capitalization rules?

Following capitalization rules helps to maintain order in written text and makes it easier to distinguish one word from another. When capitalization rules are followed carefully, this adherence to the accepted conventions of the English language strengthens the writer’s credibility.

What words should be capitalized?

  • the first person personal pronoun I
  • the first word of a sentence or a line of poetry
  • proper nouns and proper adjectives
  • titles of people (Mr., Mrs., Dr., President)
  • the first, last, and other important words in titles
  • the first word of a direct quotation
  • abbreviations for organizations
    • Note: Write out the full name of the organization the first time it is mentioned in your paper, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. After that, only the abbreviation may be used. For example, write out Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the first time it appears, and then use EPA in subsequent references to the organization.
  • compass directions that indicate a specific region (e.g., the Northwest)

What words should not be capitalized?

  • common nouns
  • articles (a, an, the), prepositions (e.g., of, on, with), and conjunctions (e.g., and, but, for) in a title, unless they appear as the first or last word
  • the names of the seasons
  • compass directions (north, south, east, west) that do not indicate a specific region