1. Capitalize the first word of a sentence. including a quoted sentence nested inside the original sentence.


Green check mark I’ll treat her as I would my own daughter.

Green check mark He said, “Treat her as you would your own daughter.”

Green check mark “Look out!” she screamed. “You almost ran into my daughter.”

2. Capitalize a proper noun, which is the particular name of a specific person, place, or thing (e.g., mountain but Mount Fuji or Fujisan).


Green check mark Golden Gate Bridge

Green check mark Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Green check mark Spiderman

3. Titles. It is often requested that you capitalize a person’s organizational title when it precedes the name, but some people and organizations prefer that it remain lower case. When in doubt, check the organizational chart, webpage, correspondence, or business card.


Chairperson Haines

OR chairperson Haines

 Green check mark  Capitalize when the person’s title follows the name on the address or signature line.



Ms. Haines, Chairperson

Green check mark  Do not capitalize when the title is acting as a description following the name.


Ms. Haines, the chairperson of the company, will address us at noon.

4. Capitalize the titles of high-ranking government officials when used with or without their names.


The President will address Congress. All Senators are expected to attend.

President Clinton will discuss the economy.

5.  Capitalize points of the compass only when they refer to specific regions.


We have had Presidents from the South.

Go south three blocks and then turn left.

We live in the southeast section of town.

Southeast is just an adjective modifying ‘section’ here,
so it should not be capitalized.

6. Capitalize titles of publications except for a, an, the, but, as, if, and, or, nor, and other little words when used internally. Capitalize short verb forms such as is, are, and


The Day of the Jackal

What Color Is Your Parachute?

7. The capitalization rules for state and federal continue to be hotly debated; increasingly, they remain lower case. Capitalizing the words state and federal, when referring to them as agencies, is optional. When state and federal are actual parts of the agencies’
names, capitalize.

Examples: The State has evidence to the contrary. OR The state has evidence to the contrary. That is a Federal offense.

OR That is a federal offense. The State Board of Equalization deals with sales taxes.

We will visit three states during our summer vacation.

8. Capitalize words such as department, bureau, and office only if
the audience is cued in the following way:

Example: The Bureau of Land Management (Bureau) will have some jurisdiction over Fort Ord. The Bureau is finding this role difficult.

9.  Do not capitalize names of seasons.

Example: I love autumn colors and spring flowers.

10. Capitalize the first word of a salutation and the first word of a complimentary close.

Example: My dear Mr. Smith:

Very truly yours,

Sammy Spade

11.  Capitalize words and abbreviations derived from proper nouns.

Example: FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)


asap (as soon as possible)

lol (laughs out loud)

(When in doubt, check your style sheet.)


Bonk, Mary Rose. Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary, edited by Mary Rose Bonk (27th ed.) Gale Research, 2000.

CIA. CIA Word Factbook. “CIA World Factbook Appendix on Abbreviations.” 2005. Found 15 December 2005.

Corbett, Phillip. “After Deadline: Newsroom Notes on Usage and Style.The New York Times. 13. April 2010. Found 30 May 2014.

Garbl’s Writing Center. “Style Manual.” Web site
manager: Gary B. Larson, Seattle, Washington. Updated 21 November 2005. Found 23 December 2005.

Indiana University. “The Oxford English Dictionary List of Abbreviations.” (n.d.) Found 21 December

Purdue University. “The Owl at Purdue.” 2005. Found December 4, 2005.

“Q&A.” The Chicago Manual of Style Online. The Chicago Manual of Style. 2010. Found 30 May 2014.

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