Capitalization Rules in English | Quick Guide & Examples

In English, a capital letter is used for the first word of a sentence and for all proper nouns (words that name a specific person, place, organization, or thing).

In some cases, capitalization is also required for the first word in a quotation and the first word after a colon.

Capitalization rules
  • Capitalize
  • Don’t capitalize
People Names (and words derived from them); nationalities; titles when used as part of a name

  • the works of Aristotle
  • a Freudian psychoanalyst
  • the Brazilian actor
  • the campaign of Senator Sanders
Occupations; titles when not used as part of a name

  • the magazine’s managing editor
  • an elderly professor
  • the left-wing senator
Places Names of specific continents, countries, states, cities, regions, monuments and landmarks

  • South America
  • the West Coast of the US
  • the Eiffel Tower
  • the River Thames
Directions and general areas

  • head north
  • the west of the city
  • the longest river in the world
Times Days of the week and months of the year; historical eras and named events; holidays

  • a Monday in July
  • the Middle Ages
  • the Napoleonic Wars
  • Christmas Day
Centuries, decades, seasons

  • an eighteenth-century painting
  • the fashion of the fifties
  • a summer vacation
  • Organizations, companies and brand names
  • Religions and deities
  • Planets
  • Languages
  • Animal and plant species
  • Elements
  • Minerals
  • Theories and models
  • Medical conditions

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