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How to Know When to Capitalize a Word

Correct spelling is only the first step in writing any word or name. Make sure you follow the rules when it comes to capitalizing.


  • Step 1: Capitalize titles Capitalize a person's title when it precedes their name names, but not when it follows a proper name or is used alone, as in General Johnson, as opposed to Winston Johnson is a general.
  • TIP: The rules for capitalizing job titles have to do with the order and use of the words, and occasions when a job title is part of the person's name.
  • Step 2: Remember abbreviations The same rules apply to titles like "Doctor" or "Reverend," even though they area normally abbreviated before a name.
  • Step 3: Designate academic titles Use capitals to designate subject majors or academic disciplines only if they refer to a language, ethnic group, or geographical entity. Take classes in political science, for instance, but attend courses in Spanish and German.
  • Step 4: Insert capitals Capitalize nouns in the titles of works, as well as pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and subordinating conjunctions like "before," or "after." Prepositions of four letters or more follow this rule as well.
  • Step 5: Capitalize degrees Add someone's academic degrees and professional designations to their name in writing, using capitals to emphasize those titles.
  • TIP: Be aware that on book jackets, aesthetic prerogatives will sometimes override rules for capitalizing.
  • Step 6: Stick to upper case Stick to the upper case for all principal words and the first word and last word in document and report titles.
  • Step 7: Cap entertainment titles Choose to capitalize all major words, including nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, in titles of musical compositions, television shows, and movies. Follow rules of capitalization and improve your grades and your writing.
  • FACT: In 2008, language experts claimed some 3,000 of the world's almost 7,000 languages may be disappearing.

You Will Need

  • Proper names
  • Titles
  • Academic titles
  • Knowledge of parts of speech
  • Degrees and designations

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