A Capital Idea for Punctuation

Here’s this month’s addition to the ‘Mechanics’ section of  your Written Communication Tool Kit – Capitalization:


  • Proper nouns – The names of people, animals, places, days, months, holidays and publications.

  • The first word of a direct quote.  Example – ‘’The user clearly said, “We need it by Friday.”
  • The first word and all main words of a title (book, magazine, article, film, show) except articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, or, but), and short prepositions (in, on, of, to).  Examples – “In Search of Excellence…”, “Harold Kerzner’s book Project Management…”
  • The first word following a colon when what follows is a formal statement or question.  Examples – “Here’s a smart rule: Work your plan and plan your work.”,  “Ask yourself this question: Do I really want to improve?”
  • Titles that precede or follow a name.  Examples – “Division President Jackie Moss…”,  “Jackie Moss, Division President …”, “Editor Robert Harvey…” , “Jane Stone, Editor…”
  • One word sentences.  Examples – “Now.” “Great!” “No!”
  • The word “number” when used to designate something.  Examples – “…room No. 4…” “…policy No. 970957…”

Don’t Capitalize

  • The first word in an indirect quote.  Example – “He said it took time to look for a new analyst.”
  • Nouns representing family members when preceded by a pronoun.  Examples – “Please call our father.”, “She hired her brother.”
  • Names of seasons, unless they precede a noun.  Examples – “Our profits are lower during the winter.”, “Our profits are lower during Winter quarter.”
  • The first word in the second part of an interrupted quote.  Example – “Let’s get moving on this,” he said, “or it will fail”
  • The first word in a parenthetical sentence.  Example – “Ed said (and we all agree) that the output must increase.”