Grammar Rules of Capitalization

Capitalization of Words

Full caps capitalize every character of every word. These are used only in major headings. Headline or heading caps capitalize the first character of each word, subject to exceptions listed below. (turab-chicago)

Heading caps capitalize the first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and subordinating conjunctions. Also capitalize the first character after a colon in a title or heading. Capitalize major words in titles, subtitles, and headings of publications, parts of publications, musical compositions, plays (stage and screen), radio and television programs, movies, paintings, works of art, software programs, electronic systems, and names of ships, airplanes, awards, and monuments.”

Titles of books and the names of journals always use heading caps in the text, titles of articles and documents generally do so too, and are placed in quotes.

Otherwise, do not capitalize:

  • Articles: a, an, the.
  • Prepositions, including: against, between, in, of.
  • Conjunctions: and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet.
  • Infinitive: to.

Sentence caps capitalize just the first letter of the first word, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns in a title, label, or phrase. Capitalize the first word and the first word after a comma or colon when the phrase is a complete sentence.

  • Use heading caps for the titles of books and articles used in the text and in references.
  • Use heading caps for major headings in your paper (except run-in headings).
  • Use sentence caps for titles of most non-English works.
  • Use sentence caps for lower level run-in or paragraph subheadings.

Ethnic/Racial Groups. Generally the names of ethnic or racial groups are capitalized if they represent a geographical region or language group. For example, Hispanic, Asian, African American, Appalachian.

Geographical Names. Capitalize place names when these terms are accepted as proper nouns. When a name applies to a well-recognized specific place, it should be capitalized as a proper noun.

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