A quick lesson in how to use capital letters

michael-jackson-1513358_1280There’s nothing worse than being tripped up by capital letters. This means having to wade through a long piece of text crippled by incorrectly used capital letters, and not knowing the rules for how to use capital letters.

My top 10:

1.  The pronoun, I is always capitalised. At the beginning, in the middle, at the end and in all contractions:

I am going

If there is money in my account I may go

I’ll go for a walk

I’m in a meeting

  1. Words that start a sentence

People are lazy

The weather is unpredictable

  1. Book titles

An American Marriage

The Mars Room

But

The Women in the Window (only nouns are capitalised)

  1. All proper nouns

Johannesburg

Tolstoy

Michael Jackson

  1. Seasons

These are not capitalised unless used at the beginning of a sentence.

Example: Summer brings rain, but plants die in winter.

  1. Direction

Only capitalised when describing a region.

Example: I am heading south. Those people come from the West.

  1. Acts, sections, grades etc

Only capitalised when use in full description. The Labour Relations Act, when introduced in text, but later in the text, the act.

Section 7, but later in text, the section

  1. Job titles

These are not capitalised, a common error among corporates and PR agencies.

I spoke to the editor

She is the managing director.

But capitalised when used as an address, Professor James Clark or Rabbi Adam Fine

  1. Acronyms where each letter is said out loud, but not when written out in full.

Example ATM – automatic teller machine

LED – light emitting diode

  1. When nouns form a name

Example: Olympic Games

Grammy Awards

Green Eggs and Ham: A great contribution to literature

After and Before: Disruptors are the new cool

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