My top 10 in how to use capital letters

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There’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. It came to the fore again this week, when clients insisted that every job title was written with a capital letter. That is just not right so please note.

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 on holiday.
    • I’ll go for a walk.
    • I’m in a meeting.
  2. Words that start a sentence
    • People are lazy.
    • The weather is unpredictable.
  3. Book titles
    • An American Marriage
    • The Mars Room
    • But, The Women in the Window (only nouns are capitalised, and the beginning of of the first word)
  4. All proper nouns
    • Johannesburg
    • Tolstoy
    • Michael Jackson
  5. Seasons

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

    • Example: Summer brings rain, but plants die in winter.
  6. Direction
    Only capitalised when describing a region.

    • Example: I am heading south. Those people come from the West.
  7. 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
  8. Job titles

    These are not capitalised, a common error among people with inflated egos, 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
  9. Acronyms where each letter is said out loud, but not when written out in full.
    • Example ATM – automatic teller machine ( note, small letters when written in full)
    • LED – light emitting diode
  10. When nouns form a name
    • Example: Olympic Games
    • Grammy Awards


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  1. Darryl Morris

    Hmmm. Lovely article. I did learn that at school but at my tender years it was certainly worth being reminded!