HUNTER COLLEGE READING/WRITING CENTER

GRAMMAR AND MECHANICS
Punctuation and Capitalization:
Capitalization

Generally, capitalize nouns and adjectives that refer to special, one- of-a-kind persons, places, or things and words that begin sentences, quotations, and titles.

CAPITALIZE
People's names and nicknames (Ted Johnson, Bubba, Dad)
Titles that precede names (Doctor Brown, Sergeant Stover)
Titles that clearly refer to only one person of high rank (President, Pope)
Names of races and nationalities (Caucasian, African American, Spaniard, Indian)
The pronoun I
DO NOT CAPITALIZE
Titles that follow names or appear without names
(Anna Maguire, professor of music; The doctor is in.)
Family references preceded by a possessive word (my mother, Jerry's dad)
CAPITALIZE
Geographic places (Pensacola, Pace Boulevard, Okaloosa County, Mississippi River, Yellowstone National Park, Appalachian Mountains, Germany, Africa)
Names of most stars and planets (Milky Way, Jupiter)
Names of buildings, institutions, organizations, and government agencies (Barnett Bank, Florida State University, Audubon Society, National Security Agency)
Compass points when they refer to a specific area of the country (Atlanta is in the South. Jack likes Western movies.)
DO NOT CAPITALIZE
General references to places (river, park, city, college, hotel)
The following stars and planets: earth, sun, moon
Compass points when they refer only to direction (Jacksonville is east of Tallahassee.)
Unimportant words within a longer name (a, an, the, conjunctions and prepositions of fewer than five letters [Statue of Liberty])
CAPITALIZE
Names of days of the week and months of the year (Monday, May)
Names of holidays and historical events (Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, Dark Ages)
DO NOT CAPITALIZE
Names of seasons (winter)
CAPITALIZE
Names of languages (French, German, English)
Brand names (Kleenex, Heinz, Baby Ruth)
School courses followed by a number (Algebra 101, Biology 220)
The first and all important words in titles of books, magazines, newspapers, articles, poems, stories, etc. [see above for unimportant words] (Of Time and the River)
Names of religions and sacred things (Baptist, Bible, Buddha)
DO NOT CAPITALIZE
The product--though you do capitalize the product name (Kleenex tissues, Heinz ketchup, Baby Ruth candy bars)
General areas of study (Cathy is taking algebra.)
The word "the" preceding names of books, magazines, newspapers, etc. (the Village Voice) unless the word is an official part of the title (The Glass Menagerie)
Breed names of animals, generic names of plants, and names of diseases (cocker spaniel, rainbow trout, sugar maple, mumps)
Some words that are already capitalized will appear in these names (English bulldog, Cornish hen, African violet, German measles)
CAPITALIZE
The first word in a sentence
The first word in a direct quote (Mary said, "Stop the car.")
The first word in each item of an outline
The first word and all nouns in the greeting of a letter (My dear Sir)
The first word in the closing of a letter (Sincerely yours)
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