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Capitalization can be tricky. Read on to find out the general rules for when to capitalize, along with exceptions and specific examples.
The General Rule for Titles
A person’s official title is capitalized when it comes immediately before their name, and normally written in lowercase when used in place of a name. For most circumstances, this simple rule will be correct.
President Trump is speaking.
The president is speaking.
Bishop Clarmont took the pulpit.
The bishop took the pulpit.
Queen Elizabeth spoke.
The queen spoke.
Professor Olsen taught the class.
The professor taught the class.
But do not confuse an official title with a general descriptive term, such as painter, salesperson, teacher, or historian.
Example: That was done by the painter Jackson Pollock.
When a title is used to directly address someone, the title is capitalized. This is the most common exception to the rule.
Captain, we’re sinking!
What do you think about this, Mom?
Nicknames are always capitalized, just like the name of any person.
the Bard of Avon (Shakespeare)
William the Conqueror
Promotional or Ceremonial
If you’re listing titles in a promotional or ceremonial context, like a list of employees in a report, then you would capitalize the titles regardless of where they appear.
Honorific titles are always capitalized, regardless of context.
the Queen Mother
Titles of Nobility
Specific titles of nobility are always capitalized because they are considered to be part of the person’s identity.
The prince came.
Prince Charles came.
The Prince of Wales came.
The queen spoke.
Queen Elizabeth spoke.
The Queen of England spoke.
The General Rule for Names
For these other instances of capitalization, the general rule on when to capitalize is to capitalize official names. We’ll go into specific instances to illustrate this.
Titles of Publications
We all know this one. Titles (or names) of publications, such as books, articles, series, journals, poems, movies, and music, are capitalized.
Ethnic and National Groups
The names of ethnic and national groups should be capitalized.
Countries and Regions
Always capitalize countries and regions.
the Swiss Alps
the Arctic (but use lowercase when speaking metaphorically, such as in “We had arctic weather today”)
the West (but use lowercase when referring to a direction, not a region: “That’s just west of here”)
Mountains, Rivers, and Streets
Capitalize the names of mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, streets, parks, monuments, and so on.
the Rocky Mountain
the Mississippi River
the Atlantic Ocean
the Peace Memorial Park
Keep in mind that the words in these titles are not capitalized when they are used in a generic way.
Example: The river ran through the park.
Political Divisions and Bodies
Official names of political divisions or bodies are capitalized.
the United States
the Ottoman Empire
the Republican Party
Days of the weeks, months, and holidays are all capitalized. However, seasons are not capitalized.
The Chicago Manual of Style lists many more instances when a word needs to be capitalized, but we feel that the examples we’ve included will be the ones you’ll use the most. For the others, follow the general rule of capitalizing when the word is part of an official name or title. If you have doubts, you can look up the word in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and see if it is capitalized there.
Do Not Capitalize
Here is a short list of things we often see capitalize that, according to Chicago, shouldn’t be.
Student status: freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior
Degree Names: master’s degree, bachelor of science
Military groups when not part of an official title: a marine; United States Marine Corps
Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions on when to capitalize.
Can’t you show more like what you need to capitalize for movies, poems,articles,and songs.
The titles of movies, poems, articles, and songs would all be capitalized. For help on what words specifically to capitalize and what words not to capitalize in a title, read this blog post: https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/how-to-capitalize-in-title-case/