When it comes to writing, there are subtle rules that guide a writer. As subtle as they are, these rules tremendously impact how the reader receives the message in your stories, articles or speeches. Although inconspicuous, they should not be overlooked either, as they can ruin your piece more than you realise.
Proper capitalisation is a fundamental aspect of writing, and most times, we do it without realising the effect it has on our overall work. It could be an act of oversight or simply ignorance; whatever it is determines how your work is perceived, especially if you strive for a professional look.
It is one thing to have a great command of the English language and another to know your capitalisation placement. It plays a critical role in conveying clarity, professionalism, and correctness in any piece of writing.
You may wonder what the big deal with capitalisation is if your spellings are in check.
Well, if you aim to have a writing piece with sequence and structure that your readers would find engaging, you might want to consider where you place your capitalisation and what letter gets capitalised.
Understanding the writing rule of capitalisation is a crucial skill for creating well-structured and polished writing.
In this carefully curated article, we will look at the key principles of capitalisation, including when and which words to capitalise, to help you enhance your writing skills. Also, if you want to improve your SEO rankings, you might want to read this thoroughly.
- Capitalise the First Word of a Sentence
This is the most basic rule of capitalisation. In writing a complete sentence, always capitalise the first word of that sentence. This principle is applied to all writing pieces regardless of whether the sentence is part of a paragraph or a stand-alone line.
This fundamental rule may appear simple, but if you are not careful, you might miss it and end up with a poorly aligned piece of writing. After all, it is the easiest of tasks that often gets overlooked.
- Capitalise Proper Nouns
Taking us a bit back to the basics, what are Proper nouns? Proper nouns refer to specific names of people, places, organisations, and unique entities.
In English, proper nouns hold the highest respect among all the words because they represent and breathe life into your writing. They represent both living and non-living things and aid apt visualisation. They should always be capitalised.
In your essay, don’t make the mistake of writing the first word of your proper noun in lowercase, as this can be considered a grammatical blunder.
Here are examples of proper nouns, properly capitalised: John Smith, New York City, Google Inc.
By capitalising proper nouns, you help in improving readability and comprehension.
- Capitalise Titles and Headings Properly
Titles and headings are breakdowns in our writing that further explain or introduce a new idea. It is an important factor in writing that helps with a seamless writing transition and engages your readers.
In titles and headings, capitalise the first letter of each major word. However, the minor words – which most times only act as a support, such as articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (in, on, at) – are not capitalised unless they are the first or last word of the title.
Most writers make the mistake of capitalising all the first words in their headings or titles, thinking it accentuates the titles or headings.
This is a common mistake that many writers do not even realise to be an error, but it is. You may feel you are doing the right thing, giving your work a polished look, but you are only ruining the sentence structure.
Let’s see an illustration for a better understanding:
Incorrect: Top 5 tips for improving seo rankings
Correct: Top 5 Tips for Improving SEO Rankings
- Capitalise the Days of the Week and Months
Days of the week and months should always be capitalised. It doesn’t matter where they appear in our sentence. We often feel that since they don’t come first in our sentence arrangement or maybe are lost somewhere in our paragraphs, it is okay to write them in lowercase, but that is wrong.
Days of the week and months of the year are proper nouns, so the capitalisation rule on proper nouns applies to them.
a. We will meet on Monday.
b. The conference is scheduled for August.
- Capitalise Nationalities and Languages
When writing professionally, little details like this matter a lot and give your content the polished look it deserves. Some articles look unprofessional because of this common mistake.
Capitalisation is part of your editing process and should be taken seriously if you wish for a squeaky-clean professional body of work.
Most times, the writers’ editing process only involves spelling checks, and that’s as far as it gets, but little details like this matter too.
Nationalities and languages are proper nouns, and do you remember our law on proper nouns? Yes, it very much needs to be capitalised.
Below are some examples:
a. She is French.
b. He speaks Spanish fluently.
- Capitalise Historical Events and Periods
When writing historical events and periods as a reference for your work or whatever it is you want it for, always capitalise your first word. Don’t leave your looking amateurish. After all the time put into your research process, it would be sad to realise your work doesn’t get the praise it deserves because your sentence structure looks terrible.
Examples of historical events that get to be capitalised are:
a. World War II
b. The Renaissance
- Capitalise Brand Names and Trademarks
Brand names and trademarks are proper nouns and should be capitalised. As a content writer, you get to explore various topics, and you could get to assess brands if you were a brand critic.
When it comes to brands, you need to know where the capitalisation rule applies. Capitalising brand names and trademarks makes your article professional and gives due notice to the brand.
One major importance of capitalisation is the attention it brings to the capitalised word. Not only do you get a good outcome, but your readers subconsciously tick them to be important topics of discussion – which they are.
- Capitalise Important Terms and Abbreviations
When you capitalise significant terms and abbreviations, it draws attention to their importance. Subconsciously, your readers take note of such words and prepare their minds whenever they see them in the future. So, you are probably educating someone about a word for the first time.
You don’t know who is reading your work at the end of the day, so you should always give your best self to your writing.
a. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
b. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Mastering capitalisation rules is essential for clear, professional, and well-structured writing. Correct capitalisation not only enhances readability and comprehension but also boosts your content’s SEO rankings.
By understanding when and which words to capitalise, you can elevate the quality of your writing, making it more impactful and engaging for your audience.
Remember to keep practising and honing your capitalisation skills, and your writing will shine with professionalism and correctness, attracting more readers and driving better SEO results.