Capitalization We left off college termsCheck “academic degrees” and “academic titles” in the AP Stylebook
Capital and Capitol Lowercase “capital” refers to the city where a seat of government is located, or property, equipment or money in terms of financial uses The word Capitol refers to the building in Washington, D.C. where Congress meets See capital and Capital in the AP Stylebook
Ethnic designations and color Capitalize race names, but do not capitalize color descriptions Caucasians and Negros live in South Africa. People who live in Tibet are Asians. We are all part of the human race – whether black, brown, red, yellow. See nationalities and race and colored in the AP Stylebook.
Geographic regions and directions Capitalize regions but not directions We toured the West on vacation. We had a flat tire west of Orlando. He speaks with a Southern accent and will always be a Southerner. The farmer told me to go south on U.S. 301 and turn east on I-4. Capitalize regions with a state’s name only if that state is famous. When in doubt, don’t. East and West Germany are now united. She grows oranges in Southern California. There is a popular ski resort in north Georgia. See directions and regions in the AP Stylebook
Government terms Somewhat inconsistent – always capitalize a specific government department. The New Orleans Police Department issued a curfew. The Police Department was quite serious about it. San Diego County fires raged even though the Fire Department worked around the clock. The Department of Agriculture encourages organic production. Specific government bodies are always capitalized: Congress, Senate and House The British Parliament is home to many a furious debate. Never capitalize board of directors or board of trustees. Words such as federal, government and administration are also not capitalized, nor are titles of president and vice-president unless they precede a name. See governmental bodies in the AP Stylebook.
Months, days of week and seasons Capitalize and spell out months and days of week. Do not capitalize seasons. My birthday is in July. I was born on Tuesday. The season that is hottest is summer. See months and days of week in the AP Stylebook
Political parties Always capitalize the name of the political party – including the word “party” Note that philosophies such as democratic, republication, communist, socialists and the like are not capitalized Uncle Joe would vote for the Democratic Party even if they were crazy. The Socialist Party enjoys strong support from Mary. It seems obvious that the communist ideal will never work. We in the United States favor a republican form of government. See government bodies, party affiliation and political parties and philosophies in the AP Stylebook.
Proper and Common Nouns A noun, whether proper or common, is a person, place or thing. A proper noun is capitalized. A common noun is not. A proper noun requires a specific person, place or thing. Articles “a” and “an” are not used with a proper noun. David; Joe; Anne; Sally; my dog; Suzi He is moving to Columbus, Ohio for graduate school. A common noun uses “a” and “an” A man, a woman, a village, a state, a country… There is an alligator in our pond See capitalization in the AP Stylebook.
Compound proper nouns There are occasions when two or more proper nouns are used together and share a plural word. Capitalize two proper nouns but lowercase the plural word: The Missouri and Mississippi rivers have strong currents. Harvard and Yale universities are Ivy League institutions. Grady and Piedmont hospitals are located in Atlanta.
Quotes and capitalization English grammar rules and journalism rules agree on capitalizing quotes. Capitalize the first word in a quote when that quote is a complete sentence: Sally said, “We are done with school tomorrow.” I asked, “How can that be, since this is Tuesday?” “Oh well, in Ohio we wait one hour, and the weather changes,” she said. See “quotations in the news” in the AP Stylebook.
Relatives’ titles The titles of relatives such as father, mother, grandmother and uncle are sometimes capitalized and sometimes not. Capitalize when it’s the first word in a sentence and when there is unmodified reference to a specific person. However, when there are modifiers such as my, your, our, their preceding the relative’s title, that title is NOT capitalized: Mother and Grandmother will visit us during Thanksgiving. I want Mother to cook the turkey. Your father is almost coming home. Her cousin will not be there. Where, Brother, will we spend our holiday? See “family names” in the AP Stylebook.
Religious titles Capitalize God, Jesus and Holy Spirit but lowercase the pronouns for God, Jesus and the like. Capitalize Bible and other holy writ: Torah, Talmud, Qur’an, etc. Any used car salesman consider the Kelley Blue Book their bible. The Torah is the Jewish holy scripture. The title of “the Rev.” is applied to most Christian clergy male and female. It is spelled out or abbreviated on first reference and when it precedes a name. The Rev. Jimmy Swaggart plays the piano. Titles of high-ranking church officials are capitalized and spelled out when they precede the name as first reference. People know Pope John Paul II because he is kind. Muslim students saw Rabbi Moshe Epstein at the football game. The rabbi’s seat was on the 50-yard line. The imman is a native of Jordan. Look up religious references and religious titles in the AP Stylebook.
Thoroughfares Knowing when to capitalize and abbreviate names of streets and the like can be confusing. The AP Stylebook says “street” “boulevard” and “avenue” are abbreviated nouns when part of a formal street name that does not have a number. Words such as “drive” “road” “terrace” “alley” are never abbreviated. Always capitalize First through Ninth when used as street names. Capitalize highways when they are identified by number. I once lived on Main Street. Now I live on a nearby avenue. The White House is located on Pennsylvania Avenue. Becknell and Cedar avenues are congested. Drive to Fourth Street, turn right and drive five blocks to Ninth Street. One of my favorite roads is U.S. 301. See address in the AP Stylebook.
Titles Formal names and titles are capitalized when preceding a name. Lowercase formal titles that come after a name. Do not capitalize occupational and generic job titles. Capitalize specific formal names of things, and do not capitalize informal names of things: President Obama is meeting with Condoleeza Rice, secretary of state, tomorrow. Yesterday, Detective David Davis took charge. Other officers including police officer Henry Smith were there. We hired pharmacist Jordan Sparks and United Press International journalist Bob McNeil. See titles and detective in the AP Stylebook.
Military titles Military titles are capitalized and abbreviated when they precede the name. Titles are lowercased and spelled out on second and subsequent references. Our cousin is Col. Frank Bart. The colonel lives in Washington. See military titles in the AP Stylebook.
Trademarks The AP Stylebook defines a trademark as a brand, symbol or word used by a manufacturer or dealer and protected by law. Therefore, always capitalize a trademark because it is a proper noun. Trademark names have become part of our common language, so journalists must be careful. Use generic equivalents whenever possible to avoid legal action over trademark infringement. I’m going to McDonald’s to buy a Coca-Cola. (trademark version) I’m going to McDonald’s to buy a cola. (preferred) Her baby likes to eat Jell-O. (trademark) Her baby likes to eat gelatin. (preferred) A Land Rover will not get stuck in the mud. An all-terrain vehicle will not get stuck in the mud. (preferred) Look up trademarks, brand names and service mark in the AP Stylebook.
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