Overview: the Rules of Capitalization
- Capitalize the first word in a sentence
- Capitalize proper nouns and adjectives
- Capitalize brand names, company names, and organizational names
- Capitalize the names of continents, countries, nationalities and languages
- Capitalize the names of ethnic, tribal and religious groups
- Capitalize the given and family names of people
- Capitalize the names of the days of the week and months of the year
- Capitalize the names of government bodies and documents
- Capitalize the names of historical eras
- Capitalize the names of holidays
- Capitalize the names of specific geographic places
- Capitalize the names of manmade structures
- Capitalize the names of planets and constellations
- Capitalize the names of sports teams
- Capitalize the names of street names
- Capitalize the names of religions, their followers and their books
- Capitalize the names of special events
- Capitalize job titles when used as part of a name
- Capitalize royalty titles and honorary titles attached to a person’s name
- Capitalize the letters in an acronym
Capitalize the first word in a sentence
The United States has the largest English-speaking population in the world. This is followed by India, Pakistan, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and the Philippines.
Capitalize proper nouns and adjectives
We capitalize both proper nouns that name specific people, places or things and proper adjectives (e.g. the American Constitution).
Capitalize brand names, company names and organizational names
According to Bloomberg, the top 10 companies in the United States ranked by revenue are:
- Exxon Mobil
- Phillips 66
- Berkshire Hathaway
- General Motors
- General Electric
- Valero Energy
- Ford Motors
- National airline carriers include Air Canada, Air Lingus, Air New Zealand, British Airways, and Quantas (Australia).
- Major U.S. airlines include American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Jet Blue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.
- The Ivy League consists of eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.
Capitalize the names of continents, countries, nationalities and languages
The Earth’s continents include Africa, Antartica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America
- Our students and teachers come from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.
- Their nationality is American (Australian, British, Canadian, Irish).
- He is a New Zealander. She is also from New Zealand.
- In Canada, many people speak both English and French.
Capitalize the names of ethnic, tribal and linguistic groups
- In the 2010 U.S. census, 62% of the population identified themselves as White (non-Hispanic), 17% identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, 13% identified themselves as Black or African American, 5% identified themselves as Asian, 1% as American Indian or Alaskan Native.
- The largest tribes of American Indians, according to the 2010 U.S. census are the Navajo, Cherokee, Chippewa, Sioux, Apache, Pueblo, Iroquois, Blackfeet, Seminole, Hopi, Cheyenne and Crow.
- The aboriginal peoples of Canada include the First Nations (a term replacing ‘Indian bands’), the Inuit living in the Canadian Arctic, and the Metis with a mixed ancestry of First Nations and Europeans.
- There are approximately 700,000 First Nations people in Canada including the Algonquin, Blackfoot, Cree, Haida, Iroquois, Mi’kmaq, and Ojibwe.
- There are approximately 50,000 Inuit living in Nunavut and 450,000 Metis living in Canada.
- There are approximately 670,000 Australian Aboriginals accounting for 3% of Australia’s population.
- The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. In the 2013 census, approximately 15% of the population or 600,000 people in New Zealand identified themselves as Maori.
Capitalize given and family names of people
- The first president of the United States was George Washington.
- Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada.
- David Cameron is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- Enda Kenny is the Prime Minister of Ireland.
- Malcolm Turnbull is the Prime Minister of Australia.
- John Key is the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Capitalize the names of the days of the week and months of the year
- The days of the week are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
- The months of the year are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.
Capitalize the names of government bodies and documents
- The U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature (two bodies) of the federal government and consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
- The U.S. Declaration of Independence was declared in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. It announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America.
- The U.S. Constitution, written on parchment, enshrines the separation of powers between the three branches of government (the legislative branch consisting of the bicameral Congress, the executive branch (the Office of the President) and the judicial branch (the Supreme Court). It has been amended 27 times. The first ten amendments are collectively known as the Bill of Rights.
- The Parliament of Canada consists of the elected House of Commons, the appointed Senate and the Queen as represented by the Governor-General.
- The Canadian Fathers of Confederation are the people who attended at least one of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences in 1864 and the London Conference of 1866 in England, preceding Canadian Confederation in 1867.
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada and forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982.
- Library and Archives Canada is a federal institution tasked with acquiring, preserving and making Canada’s documentary heritage accessible. It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
- The Parliament of the United Kingdom consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
- The Palace of Westminster, on the River Thames in the City of Westminster in central London, is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
- The legislature of Ireland consists of the Lower House (Dail Eireann) and the Upper House (Seanad Eireann). Leinster House (Irish: Tigh Laighean) is the seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland.
- The Parliament of Australia consists of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Queen as represented by the Governor-General.
- The Parliament of New Zealand is unicameral (one house) and consists of the House of Representatives and the Queen as represented by the Governor General.
Capitalize the names of historical eras
- Key periods in history include the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the Age of Discovery, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Napoleonic era, the Victorian era, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Swinging Sixties, and the Space Age.
- Key dynasties in China include the Shang, Zhou, Tang and Ming dynasties.
- Key periods in Japanese history include the Nara, Heian, Kamakura and Meiji periods.
- Key periods in the history of India include the Vedic period, Puranic period and the period of the Mughal Empire.
Capitalize the names of holidays
- In the United States there are eleven federal holidays including New Year’s Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
- Key Christian celebration days include the Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday, Pentecost, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, and Christmas.
Capitalize the names of specific geographic places
- The Earth’s oceans include the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Southern Ocean.
- The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth’s oceans.
- Some of the world’s largest seas include the Arabian Sea, Caribbean Sea, Coral Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, South China Sea
The five Great Lakes along the Canada and U.S. border in the northeast are: Lake Erie, Lake Michigan Lake Ontario, and Lake Superior.
- Lake Superior is the largest lake in the United States.Great Bear Lake is the largest lake entirely in Canada.
- The Lake District is a popular holiday destination in Northwest England.
- Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland is the largest lake in the United Kingdom.
- Lough Corrib is the largest lake in Ireland.Lake Eyre is the largest lake in Australia.Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand.
The longest rivers in the United States are the Missouri River (2,340 miles, 3,770 km), the Mississippi River (2,200 miles, 3,545 km), the Yukon River (1,980 miles, 3,185 km), the Rio Grande (1,760 miles, 2,830 km) and the Colorado River (1,450 miles, 2,330 km).
- The longest rivers in Canada are the Mackenzie River (4,240 km), the Yukon River (3,185 km), the Saint Lawrence River (3,060 km), the Nelson River (2,575 km), and Slave River (2,340 km).
- The longest rivers in the United Kingdom are the River Severn (220 miles, 355 km), the River Thames (215 miles, 345 km), and the River Trent (185 miles, 300 km).
- The longest river in Ireland is the River Shannon (224 miles, 360 km).
- The longest river in Australia is the Murray River (2,510 km).
- The longest river in New Zealand is the Waikato River (264 miles, 425 km).
The two major mountain ranges in Canada are the Canadian Rockies and the Laurentian Mountains.
The major mountain ranges in the United States are the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, the Cascades, and the Sierra Nevada.
- The major mountain ranges in the United Kingdom include the Lake District, Cheviot Hills, the Pennines, and the Scottish Highlands.
- The major mountain ranges of Ireland include the Comeragh Mountains, Blackstairs Mountains, Wicklow Mountains, and the Mournes.
- The major mountain ranges of Australia include the Blue Mountains, the Snowy Mountains, Victoria Alps, and Flinders Ranges.
- The major mountain ranges of New Zealand include the Southern Alps, the Rimutaka Range, and the Greywacke Mountains.
- The highest mountain peak in the United States is Mount McKinley (20,235 feet, 6,170 meters) in Alaska.
- The highest mountain peak in Canada is Mount Logan (5,960 meters, 19,550 feet) in the Yukon.
- The highest mountain peak in the United Kingdom is Ben Nevis (1,345 meters, 4,410 feet) in the Scottish Highlands.
- The highest mountain peak in Ireland is Carrauntoohil (1,038 meters, 3,410 feet) in County Kerry.The highest mountain peak in Australia is Mount Kosciusko (2,230 meters, 7,310 feet) in the Snowy Mountains.The highest mountain peak in New Zealand is Aoraki/Mount Cook (3,725 meters, 12,220 feet) in the Southern Alps.
Capitalize the names of manmade structures
- Some famous American architectural wonders include the Freedom Tower and Empire State Building in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Sears Tower in Chicago.
- The London Eye, Europe’s tallest ferris wheel, is located on the South Bank of the River Thames in London.
- The Sydney Opera House is a well-known landmark of the city.
Capitalize the Names of Planets
We capitalize the names of planets (e.g., Mars), galaxies (e.g., the Milky Way) and specific star constellations (e.g., Orion, Taurus).
Capitalize the names of sports teams
- The National Football League in the United States consists of 32 professional teams including the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, and the Washington Redskins.
- The National Hockey League consists of 30 professional teams including the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, and the Winnipeg Jets.
- Major League Baseball has 30 professional teams including one Canadian team (the Toronto Blue Jays). The teams are: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers,Toronto Blue Jays, and the Washington Nationals.
- The National Basketball Association consists of 30 professional teams including one Canadian team (the Toronto Raptors). The teams are: the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden City Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, and the Washington Wizards.
- The Barclays Premier League consists of 20 professional football teams in England including (in 2015) Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Southhampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspurs, West Ham United, and Wigan.
Capitalize Street Names
- The U.S. President lives in the White House located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
- In Manhattan, New York some of the most well-known streets include the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue), Broadway, Canal Street, Fifth Avenue, Lexington Avenue, Park Avenue, Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and Wall Street.
- In Chicago, some of the top shopping streets are North Michigan Avenue, Oak Street and State Street.
- In Miami, the top shopping streets in South Beach include Collins Avenue, Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road, Espanola Way, and Washington Avenue.
- In Los Angeles, some popular shopping streets include Beverly Boulevard, La Brea Avenue, Robertson Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and Wilshire Boulevard.
- The British Prime Minister lives at 10 Downing Street in Whitehall, London.
- In London, some of the most well-known streets include Baker Street, Bond Street, Carnaby Street, Downing Street, Fleet Street, Gerrard Street, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Savile Row, the Strand, Tottenham Court Road, and Whitehall.
- The legendary fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, created by the British writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lived at 221B Baker Street in London, now the site of the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
- In Dublin, the most popular shopping streets are Grafton Street and Henry Street.
- In Sydney, popular shopping areas include Oxford Street, King Street, Darling Street, and the Corso in Manly.
- In Auckland, the popular shopping streets include Queen Street, Karangahape Road, Parnell Road, and Posonby Road.
- In Toronto, some of the most popular shopping areas include Bloor Street, Yonge Street, Queen Street, Dundas Street, and Kensington Avenue.
Capitalize names of religions, their followers and their books
- Christianity/Christian(s) (Roman Catholic(s), Coptic Christian(s),
Protestant(s), Orthodox Christian(s), Bible, Old and New Testaments
- Hinduism/Hindu(s), Vedas, Ramayana, Puranas
- Islam/Muslim(s), Quran
- Judaism/Jew(s), Torah
- Sikhism/Sikh(s), Guru Granth Sahib
Capitalize the names of special events
- The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia.
- The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
- The 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan.
- The Cannes International Film Festival is usually held in May.
Capitalize Job Titles
We capitalize the job title when it immediately precedes the name and is used as part of the name. If the position title, follows the noun, we do not capitalize it.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr led the Civl Rights Movement in the United States in the early 1960s until his assassination in 1968.
- Secretary of State John Kerry is a former senator from Massachusetts.
- Governor Chris Christie from New Jersey is the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
- Chris Christie, a governor, was the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
- Senator John McCain is a member of the Republican Party.
- John McCain, a senator from Arizona, is a member of the Republican Party.
- Congressman John Boehner served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
- John Boehner, a congressman from Ohio, served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
- Stephen Harper is a Canadian politician who was the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and the Leader of the Conservative Party
- Professor Stephen Hawking is a theoretical physicist at Cambridge University.
- Stephen Hawking, a professor in theoretical physics, has received numerous awards and honors.
Capitalize Royalty Titles and Honorary Titles
We capitalize the names of royalty titles when attached to the name of a person.
- Queen Elizabeth II is the great-grandmother of Prince George of Cambridge. She is married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and is the mother of Charles, Prince of Wales, Andrew, Duke of York, and Princess Anne.
- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are the parents of Prince George of Cambridge, the future King of England.
- Lady Margaret Thatcher has been the only female British prime minister in history. She was the longest serving prime minister in the 20th century (1979-1990) when she was also the Leader of the Conservative Party. She was appointed to the House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher.
- Sir Winston Churchill was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-1945 and from 1951-1955. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the same year he received the Nobel Prize for Literature for his six-volume memoir on the Second World War and his four-volume series on the History of the English-speaking Peoples.
- Lord Louis Mountbatten, an uncle of Prince Philip, was a British statesman and naval officer. He served as the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command during World War II; was the last Viceroy of India (1947); and the first Governor-General of the independent Dominion of India (1947–48). He died in 1979 as a result of a bombing by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
Capitalize the letters in an acronym
We often use acronyms for organizations that have a long name. For example,
- UN (United Nations)
- UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
- UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme)
- UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization)
- UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)
- US AID (United States Agency for International Development)