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In-Line Quotes[edit]

Is this an oversight? In the following:

Bob said, "This is not the time".

The "This" should be capitalized, no? I did not see this point mentioned. I am not an expert, but I believe this is correct. (talk) 08:56, 22 November 2009 (UTC)


I followed the Wiki motto — be bold! — and added a section on (English) titles, based on several decades of observations of library, music publishing, and other cultural practices. I imagine it will generate some controversy. I invite comments, suggestions, and criticisms. -- Jeff Q 14:05, 5 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Often 'job titles' are capitalised in 'Situations Vacant' advertisements, and elsewhere. Business Analyst, Professor of English ... Come to think of it, many newspapaer ads are written in note form with a capital initial letter for each line, but no full stop if there is no verb : ie not a sentence. I like them - helps to distinguish special words ? -- (talk) 22:13, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Slight contradiction with the French one[edit]

"In French, accents are sometimes dropped from the uppercase letter of a capitalized word: l'Etat."

I now quote the French one De l'usage des majuscules:

"Les majuscules et les capitales s'écrivent en principe avec les accents et autres diacritiques, au même titre que les minuscules.": Uppercase letters in principle take accents the same way as lowercase letters.

It is not "sometimes" it is dropped and "sometimes" not, it is just due to the problem of typing accents on uppercase letters with the first typewriters. However the rule is: "capitalized letters also take accents" - (unsigned)

Some people put the accents on capital letters, and some don't. That's pretty much the definition of "sometimes", isn't it? - Nunh-huh 05:41, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Of course not. That's like saying that "friend" is sometimes spelled "freind" because some people spell it that way. The only relevant question here is whether they're correct in so doing.

Okay, it may be wrong according to L'Académie, but people often do it and are not corrected... even by school teachers. You'll see it in ads. It doesn't mean it is not wrong, but it's accepted, while freind is not accepted in English at all. It's a peccadillo at most. This is often the case in Italian, people type 'E or E' instead of È (is) or citta' instead of città (city).

Languages all over the world that capitalize all nouns[edit]

The article currently claims that various other languages besides German capitalize all nouns. I know that Danish did this as well before the 1950s, but what other languages do this today? Or is this statement simply wrong and should be removed (especially considering it was added originally by someone who also claimed, wrongly, that French also does that)? -- Markus Kuhn 19:24, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I've also thought this was odd but I'm not an expert. I have heard that other Germanic languages formerly did this. Can you find a more exact date for Danish, and is it mentioned on the Danish page? Also, does anybody know whether it was also formerly done in Afrikaans, Dutch, Flemish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, or any of the less well-known languages? It would also be nice to know when each language stopped doing it and if it was part of a larger spelling reform. — Hippietrail 03:08, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I've included year 1948 for Danish changeover based on [1] says
  • "German is the only language in which all nouns begin with a capital letter."
  • "Before 1948 the å was written aa [in Danish]. The spelling reform of that year also abolished the German practice of beginning all nouns with a capital letter". Joestynes 07:18, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It seems that Norwegian used to capitalise all nouns but abolished the practice before Danish. It seems to be part of the 1907 reform but as with all things relating to language in Norway it appears not to be so simple. It looks like either the 1906 reform or at least the capitalisation part wasn't really embraced and made standard until perhaps 1939. Finding direct details is very hard on the net but this helps: - about a Norwegian newspaper publish in the USA:

  • "In 1939, the paper introduced a spelling reform to bring its orthography into line with the 1907 changes in written Norwegian. These changes, however, ignored the much more substantial reforms adopted in Norway in 1917 and 1938. Decorah-Posten continued to capitalize nouns until 1961 ..."

Hippietrail 03:41, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Didn't English also do this at one time? I seem to remember seeing things written in 1600s or so that were written so. - 19:08, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Major reordering[edit]

Apologies for smuggling some substantive additions into what is otherwise a (major) reordering of the material. My justification is that, I wanted to add some items, but other than the long miscellaaneous list, there didn't seem anywhere to put them; so I've redistributed the miscellany into the main paragraphs. I hope it gives a less English-centric article. The points I've added are:

  • aka title case, with discussion of Unicode titlecase characters (Croatian, polytonic Greek) (titlecase redirects here).
  • readded Dutch U with qualification "occasionally", and note on "van" - from Dutch wikipedia.
  • English surnames like ffoulkes with lowercase
  • example honorifics/titles
  • vocative O
  • Irish initial mutation
  • Generalise about digraph/ligatures Joestynes 07:18, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I changed the wording to reflect that monotheistic gods are not the only gods whose names receive capitalization.

I am about to remove the part which reads. "Additionally, following some Biblical conventions, such as the New American Standard Bible, the word Lord may be written in small caps, which is a capitalized initial letter followed by additional capitalized letters in a smaller typeface." for two reasons.

1. This is not relevant to the topic of capitalization. It has to do with a specific situation in which a small caps font face is sometimes used.

2. The only time this convention applies is when the word 'Lord' rendered in small caps is used to translate the Hebrew tetragrammaton, YHWH, and has NO applications outside that specific context. If readers were to understand that this is an alternate way of capitalizing the word "Lord" for general writing purposes they would be in error.--Schlemazl 19:36, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

I remember reading a bible that deliberately mixed 'lord' and 'Lord' to retain a subtle distinction between two words in Greek (or Aramaic?). I think it was the New World Translation from the Jehovah's Witnesses ? Interesting to see 'Biblical' with a capital, too ! -- (talk) 22:18, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Capitalisation of nj, lj and dž[edit]

This article clearly states that nj, lj and dž are capitalised as Lj, Nj, and Dž. Wikipedia does not conform to this standard (see , LJ (letter)). Therefore I will be bold and do some serious page moving (or request the pages to be moved where the move is not trivial) and redirect all discussion here. --Dijxtra 13:28, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


Do terms such as "black" and "white" have to be capitalized when used in relation to someone's race? Some sentences to consider:

  • "He saw a White man walking down the street."
  • "I would have been accepted if I wasn't White."
  • "I general, White people tend to have higher incomes."

Which one of these is correct? All? None? Some? I don't really know. AucamanTalk 08:32, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

As far as I am aware, none of them. 'White' is not a name, it is a description. Similarly you wouldn't capitalise 'Tall' in the sentence "In general, Tall people are more likely to have back problems." --HappyDog 00:45, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
In South Africa, in the bad old days, the races were legally defined and the names of the four main race groups, White, Black, Coloured and Indian, were capitalised in South African law and when referring to race groups in any legal sense. Generally, however, races are not capitalised. Paul Beardsell 03:43, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Classical languages[edit]

In Latin and ancient Greek, only proper nouns are capitalized.

How is this possible, in a script without minuscule?

[If I am reading the history correctly, the above comment was appearantly made my Josh Grosse on or about 24 October 2003.]

When written in such a script, it isn't. There's certainly a lot of Latin that has been written in scripts that do have both majuscule & minuscule letters. In modern times, it is my experience that the writer most often uses the capitalization & punctuation rules of his native language. I haven't, however, seen enough manuscripts from the transitional times to say much about that.
I do feel that this sentence (from the article quoted above) needs some expansion, but I am not qualified to do so.
-- 19:05, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Latin didn't have miniscule letters however when written in modern times, we capitalize all proper nouns. I know English speakers, when writing Latin, capitalize proper adjectives. My personal experience I've seen that in places where Romance languages are spoken, proper adjectives are not capitalized.Arthurian Legend 04:48, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

In most of the pre-Enlightenment Latin and Greek I've seen, the text is either carved in stone in all-majuscule or handwritten in a book or scroll in all-minuscule (cursive), except for decorative forms at the beginning of chapters (often illuminated). Likewise Arabic and Hebrew. Capitalization would seem to be a recent development. -- Craig Goodrich (talk) 22:12, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

iPod, eBay, iMac, etc.[edit]

What are the rules for the capitalisation of these words? I query in particular regarding having these words at the beginning of a sentence, but also with regards typing in ALLCAPS. Liam Plested 19:23, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Based on what I've seen around the internet, in print, and especially in Apple's and eBay's writing, it seems they should be capitalized as they appear, even when at the beginning of a sentence:

eBay is a great auction site. is correct.
EBay is a great auction site. is incorrect.
Ebay is a great auction site. is also incorrect.
EBAY is a great auction site. is super duper incorrect.

eBay example: About eBay, "eBay is The World's Online Marketplace®, enabling trade on a local, national and international basis." Apple example: [2], "iMac comes with iLife ’06, a suite of easy-to-use applications that make the spectacular part of your everyday life." Both accessed 6 June 2006.

As for typing in ALLCAPS ... well, that is bad style, anyway. I don't think any way would be "more correct" in an already incorrect situation like that, so I'll say nothing.

-jauricchio 13:57, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Oxford Manual of Style concurs with this assessment. JulesH 18:49, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

No matter what the word is, when starting a sentence even these words must be capitalized.

Jeffrey ten Grotenhuis 09:30, 29 October 2007 (UTC) Rules can be bent if it becomes common enough to write a word a certain way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Coching (talkcontribs) 09:30, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

I believe that using the trademarked spelling (if is such as appears to be in this case) is the standard to be followed, even if it goes against normal capitalization rules. So, for example, "eBay is a good place to get an iPod." That is my opinion anyway. (talk) 00:15, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
The first letter of a sentence must always be capitalized, period. Also, many things in English are common but still not (and will never be) considered right. Ask any English teacher or Professor. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 07:01, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Compound names[edit]

In the section on Dutch, the we have the sentences "the particle 'van' in a surname is not capitalized if a forename or initial precedes it. So Franky van der Elst in prose becomes Van der Elst, Franky in a list." I do not speak Dutch, but I used to work at an academic library in Switzerland, and for Dutch names practice was that the particle was "attached" to the first name, so Franky van der Elst would normally be filed under "Elst, Franky van der," not "Van der Elst, Franky." A Dutch speaker should confirm or refute, however.

Worth noting that if this were true, alphebetisations of lists of Dutch names would probably end up with extremely long 'V' sections.
Anyway, the section has been changed to not refer to lists at all, but I still think it's wrong. The Oxford Manual of Style has this to say on the subject:
"As a Dutch prefix to a proper name, van, van den van der are usually not capitalized except at the beginning of a sentence, and therefore are all alphabetized under the main name."
Like the previous anonymous poster, however, I'm not comfortable making the change as I don't speak Dutch. The Oxford Manual of Style is a great source for English rules, but I'm not confident that it's brilliant when it comes to other languages. JulesH 18:47, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

I am Dutch, and I believe that in a list we write Elst, Franky van der. Since Elst is the "real" last name. Hope I helped. Celia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:26, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Capitalisation of titles by British publishers[edit]

I think if we're going to say "most" British publishers use sentence capitalisation for titles, we need a source for it. I say this primarily because I don't think it's true. I think it may be true for a limited subset of cases: particularly, for titles of articles in magazines and newspapers. I don't think it's true for titles of publications (note that New Scientist has both words capitalised). I'm not certain about titles of chapters in books: examining a few books on my desk shows one in sentence case (Macmillan) and two with most words capitalised (OUP, Pergammon Press). JulesH 08:04, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

It seems you misunderstood sentence case. "New Scientist" is a a proper noun, namely the name of this publication. It is therefore capitalized even in a normal sentence. Therefore, the magazine title "New Scientist" is a correct example of sentence case.
Sentence case only means that the same rules for capitalization are applied in sentences and in headlines. In both cases, proper nouns (which can comprise several words) are capitalized. Therefore, if you merely look at a proper noun, you can't distinguish title case and sentence case.
I have yet to find a single British newspaper, magazine, or journal that does not use sentence case. Please name at least one single counterexample before asking for sources. The problem in this discussion is that with sentence case, there is no need to have any special section in a style guide to clarify how word cases should be handled in headlines. In the absence of any particular special rules, the normal rules of English grammar apply equally in headlines and paragraphs. British book titles are capitalized where the book titles can be seen as proper nouns (i.e., the name of the book), but not because there is a special rule for capitalizing titles differently. Markus Kuhn 19:53, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
Not being an English author, and not familiar with the standards over there vs. over here (the USA), I still thought posting what I have seen (I consider myself an avid reader) might be helpful. Of the many books I have read, I have seen the book titles themselves be capitalized in opposition of sentence case (only the first letter be capitalized in each sentence, except proper nouns). Sometimes, the prepositions would also be capitalized, but mostly not, unless used as the first word in the title. The standard for chapter titles, in my experience, isn't so clear, as I have seen both formats used; specifically, sentence case in some instances, and also following the title standard, all words capitalized except propositions. (talk) 00:23, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Capitalization (or capitalisation)[edit]

I don't think it is necessary to show both ways to spell this word. I think most English speakers are aware of the differences between American and British/Commonwealth/international (whatever). While I am American, my preference is for more the more latinate versions (Labor over labour, -ize over -ise, encyclopaedia or foetus over encyclopedia versus fetus). But whatever, that's me, anyway there's not need for TWO versions of the same word in the same sentence. [unsigned ...]

It will help those that type the wrong one to find this article in search engines ... -- (talk to the idiot) 22:22, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

The wrong one?! What a perfect example of arrogance. Capitalisation is clearly the more commonly written form of the world globally. Astonvilla91 (talk) 11:45, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

This is only one example of the different spellings being used in each country. I think you would have a hard time "repairing" all the different pages that show this dichotomy. Not only that, it does help others who are used to the variation in spelling the Americans use (the English were the ones we got our language from). To be fair, I feel (and I am American as well) that there is a valid reason to show both spellings of this particular word. (talk) 00:27, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Graphical user interfaces[edit]

Should the page also refer to graphical user interfaces' use of capitalization?

For example, the Microsoft GUI style guide recommends "book title capitalization" for some user interface components ([[3]]), and sentence style for others. Ptoboley 12:35, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

If, then it should be presented as a recommendation in a particular named manufacturer's house style, not as a general recommendation. The danger with enumerating style guides that require special capitalization beyond the normal rules for English phrases or sentences is that this can easily give the impression that such rules are generally recommended practice. For balance, there should also be a list of similar style guides that lack special rules for capitalizing the first letter of most words in user interfaces. Even more important would be if we could find any references that justify such rules (practical advantages, etc.). By the way, I note that Microsoft itself is far from consistent in applying the quoted rule in its own products. In some other environments (e.g., Linux desktops), there is even a particularly wild mix between phrase case ("loading file ..."), sentence case ("Loading file ..."), and title case ("Loading File ..."). Markus Kuhn 16:18, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't see this as a feasible idea to implement, nor do I see the point for it. This information is intended to be a general guideline with specific references to back up examples. It would be ridiculous to expect this guide to be updated every time that another variation of a GUI was put in place. (talk) 00:29, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Why do we capitalize?[edit]

There should be some explanation of why capitalization exists at all. Kent Wang 00:50, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Originally, we used only all caps. But lowercased letters 'evolved', if you will, from uppercased letters because they are smaller and easier to make.Cameron Nedland 21:35, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
Then why not all lower case? Why maintain the distiction between upper and lower case? I have heard that the differentiation of upper case first letters in a sentence helps in identifying the beginning of sentences when scanning. This seems true to me but I would like some one more knowledgeable to include it in the article. Kent Wang 22:31, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
Good question, I think it would be great if we only had one variety of each letter. Can't help you bro, sorry.Cameron Nedland
This question was asked at the Bauhaus in the 1920s: “warum 2 alfabete, wenn eins dasselbe erreicht? warum großschreiben, wenn man nicht groß sprechen kann?” At the time the answer was to dispense with uppercase entirely: “wir schreiben alles klein, denn wir sparen damit zeit.” Perhaps there should be some mention of kleinschreibung as a theory, although its influence these days is more as a typographic or stylistic mannerism. -- coconino 06:17, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

The historically more meaningful question to ask would be: why do we use minuscules at all? Markus Kuhn 17:20, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

They just kind of evolvd and we nevr deposed v them wen th printing press arived.Cameron Nedland 19:44, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree it helps scanning for sentence structure and making special words stand out without using punctuation.
It would be interesting to know when changes occurred : someone remembers documents with Nouns from ~1600.
I thought the word 'case' was evidence the change might have arisen with the invention of printing, like serifs.
What was it called before - 'big letters' or 'majuscule' ?

I believe the time has come for linguistic revolution. All aspects of language ought to have clearly defined functions: the apostrophe indicates always the omission of a letter, the question mark signifies inquisition, and the colon introduces tangents. It seems to me that the capitalization of a word, in modern usage, assigns to it a degree of importance superior to that of words written entirely in minuscule. Capitalizing the initial word of a sentence increases the importance of that word, as it now serves to signify the beginning of a new thought. The capitalization of proper nouns raises their importance, and is, essentially, a gesture of respect--since i greatly respect Vanessa, i shall capitalize her name, however, as i don't much care for david, i'll not pay him that reverence. This is, in essence, what is done throughout history when referencing God: Thy Word, the Lamb, the Father--these words are not proper nouns, but they are capitalized to show a degree of veneration. Simplifying capitalization to a function determining status clarifies the ten thousand arbitrary rules of capitalization into a single, easily understood application. For me, this means that i refuse to capitalize the first person pronoun unless it begins a sentence, as i hold myself to be no more important than you. | Brandon Ghislain —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:23, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

The same argument could be made for why the "standard" to some people is no longer to have two spaces after a period (or other sentence ender) at the end of a sentence, but has been reduced to one space. Personally, I still use two spaces. I feel it helps to further distinguish the separation between sentences over the space after something like vs. within a sentence. When scanning through a larger section of text, in my experience, it is easier to distinguish the end of a sentence with two spaces after it than it is with one space. (talk) 00:34, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I noticed after posting my previous comment that the wiki seems to want to bastardize my post and take out the usual two spaces I put in, and cut it down to one space. I have re-posted my previous post below to further show the difference between what I consider proper, and what the wiki formatting is forcing on it's contributors, in difference from proper English standards.
The same argument could be made for why the "standard" to some people is no
longer to have two spaces after a period (or other sentence ender) at the end
of a sentence, but has been reduced to one space.  Personally, I still use two
spaces.  I feel it helps to further distinguish the separation between sentences
over the space after something like vs. within a sentence.  When scanning
through a larger section of text, in my experience, it is easier to distinguish
the end of a sentence with two spaces after it than it is with one space.

To me, at least, it seems easier to read with the proper two spaces after a sentence than with only one. Wiki people, please change it back to have the two spaces after a sentence that should be there. (talk) 00:41, 5 November 2009 (UTC)


Why do people object to over-capitalisation - what harm does it do ?
-- (talk) 22:29, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

The way capitalization is used today in normal sentences carries some useful information, e.g. the distinction between proper nouns (capitalized) and normal nouns (not capitalized). Capitalization more aggressively than that only destroys such information. Is "A NICE WOMAN" a woman from Nice, or is she just nice? Overcapitalization clearly can introduce unnecessary ambiguity. Markus Kuhn (talk) 12:00, 25 November 2007 (UTC)


Would it make sense to move either this article or Market Capitalization to Capitalisation?Cameron Nedland 21:48, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Not really; see National varieties of English for more information. -- nae'blis 21:54, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
Okey.Cameron Nedland 02:34, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

North, South, East and West[edit]

Are the names of the cardinal directions capitalised? This is equivalent to asking if they are proper nouns, I suppose. What about the names of the winds? Is it "the South wind" or "the south wind" or "the South Wind"? And then what about derivatives? "He was traveling in a [sS]outherly direction blustered by a [wW]esterly wind." Paul Beardsell 20:37, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

If you are using it as a region, yes. 'I am heading to the North' & 'I am heading north'. Capisce?Cameron Nedland 01:29, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
That seems sensible to me. Thanks. Paul Beardsell 05:56, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I think the only time it isn't capitalized is when it is used as a part of another word, like "North" would be capitalized, but "northern" wouldn't be (unless it was a part of a company name, as in "Northern Express"). In your example, I believe it would properly be called "the South wind". But, I think it would be "He was traveling in a southerly direction." It wouldn't make sense to say "He was traveling in a South direction," but "He was traveling South" I think would be appropriate. (talk) 23:28, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
(addition to previous post) Cameron, I think, in your example, it would also be proper to say "I am heading North". I have seen more examples of capitalizing the cardinal directions —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:03, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Lost connection on entering last post, and did further research since as well.
I am back to put my foot in my mouth. Looked in the dictionary, and the cardinal directions are not capitalized unless used as a proper name. So, "going North" would not be proper; "going north" would. And also, "I am going to the North" would also be correct as pointed out by Cameron above. (talk) 00:08, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Family members and relatives[edit]

What is the standard practice for capitalising nouns describing relatives? Is it "I told Mum about it", or "I told mum about it"; "You said about Dad's accident", or "You said about dad's accident", for example? I have seen both of these in frequent use and am confused as to which is ultimately correct. Daniel 21:20, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I think in the respect you are asking, the terms "Mum" and "Dad" are used in the place of a name, and names are proper when capitalized. However, I think when used to describe a general person, such as "He was talking about his dad", it could be argued either way. (talk) 23:30, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

American versus British English[edit]

Is there a difference between the treatment of capitals for nouns in english versus american English? I was always taught that it was only proper nouns that have capital letters. Is this correct for english English and not for american English? If this is correct, are there any other differences? Natalie Miller 4th January, 2007

In British English (en-GB), I was told that words such as nation aren't capitalised, but in American English (en-US) they are. I find this dubious, but was also told that it is capitalised when in reference to the American nation. Daniel 21:40, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
That's odd. I'm certain that we don't capitalize nation either. While there are differences in the languages, I don't think that's one of them. 22:17, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

In Britain, at least in some contexts, it seems to be customary to treat a normal noun like a proper noun in order to clarify that you mean one particular item. This applies in particular to organizations. For example, if within the University of Cambridge someone writes about "the University", the capitalization implies that "ours" is meant, not any other university. I always thought of this just as an application of the rule that proper nouns are capitalized. The Nation, the City, the University, the College, the Department all imply that the writer's nation, city, university, college or department are referred to here, and that these words are actually just short forms of the corresponding full names of these organizations. I work in the Computer Laboratory, not a computer laboratory. The capitalization makes a big difference in this context, and it pains me to see British journalists getting it wrong quite regularly. Markus Kuhn (talk) 14:00, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I believe this actually follows the same convention (in regards to the word "nation") and may also in many other respects. For example, when someone is referring to "a nation", you would not capitalize the word. However, when saying "This is my Nation" I think you would. In Markus' example, the words "University of Cambridge" is actually the full and actual name of the university in question, and does qualify as a name. Hope this helps out, and sorry if it just confused the issue more for you. (talk) 23:34, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Hyphenated proper nouns[edit]

At Talk:Light-sport Aircraft we are having a discussion (I hope) to determine if the "s" in "Light-sport Aircraft" (the proper name of an FAA-regulated category of aircraft) should be capitalised. [The hyphenisation is a little weird but that's what the FAA does. And it has the benefit of distinguishing it from the English phrase "light sport aircraft".] What is the general rule? Paul Beardsell 22:47, 20 January 2007 (UTC)


A good deal of legal and older philosophical writing seems to utilize capitalization to emphasize the importance of the concept referred to by the word being capitalized. Is there a name for this phenomenon?

I believe the phenomenon is named "capitalizing to emphasize the importance of a concept". I am kidding. I do not know if there actually is a name for this concept, or even if it is following proper English language standards or not. (talk) 23:36, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

ALL CAPS in contracts[edit]

Why do many contracts use all caps for some words? Like: "NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the AGREEMENT..." Is there a legal purpose to this? Keep in mind I'm not asking about entire clauses written in uppercase, just single words, scattered throughout the document. — Eric Herboso 05:00, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

This seems to be limited to contracts written by U.S. lawyers. I've never seen this anywhere else. Markus Kuhn 15:55, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Really? I also see this frequently in the UK, and my first guess is that it refers to words referenced in the glossary of legal documents:
  • "WE, OUR, or US: Refers to Barclays Bank PLC trading as..."
Although I accept that in the UK it is more commonly written like:
  • " agree to the terms and conditions of use (herein referred to as 'Terms')..." and is from then onwards written in the document with initial capitalisation: "...these Terms are binding under law...". —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fakelvis (talkcontribs) 10:06, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect definition?[edit]

"Capitalization (or capitalisation) is writing a word with its first letter as a majuscule (upper case letter) and the remaining letters in minuscules (lower case letters), in those writing systems which have a case distinction."

I think capitalization can also refer to the general usage of capitals: Oxford American: capitalize 4 [ trans. ] write or print (a word or letter) in capital letters. • begin (a word) with a capital letter. DERIVATIVES capitalization |ˌkapətl-əˈzā sh ən| noun

For example the Internet capitalization conventions article talks about all caps as well. Or if I was correcting a writing with capital letters in the wrong place, I would likely say: "There's a problem with the capitalization" and this wouldn't be restricted to just errors like This, but errors like THIS as well. Macgruder 17:38, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Help with capitalizing World and Earth please[edit]

I am ashamed that I do not know this, but what are the rules for capitalizing (or not, as the case may be) World and Earth please? Soccerman58 19:54, 24 September 2007 (UTC)Soccerman58

Are you talking about a world full of wonders or the World of Warcraft? A hand full of earth or the planet called Earth? All you need to understand is the difference between a common noun (not capitalized in English) and a proper noun (capitalized in English). Jomsborg (talk) 18:07, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Proper names of persons?[edit]

I looked through this whole article and didn't see one of the most important uses of capitalization: namely the proper names of particular persons (e.g., George Washington). Did I miss this? Surely this usage should be included. Hult041956 (talk) 19:12, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

From the Nouns section: "In nearly all European languages, single-word proper nouns (including personal names) are capitalized..." –Henning Makholm 23:45, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I just missed that, I guess. Thanks. Hult041956 (talk) 07:09, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Feminist capitalization[edit]

We need a section (at least with links to other appropriate articles) on the feminist practice of no-caps. I'm trying to figure out where this practice came from, and have had little success. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:44, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I, for one, have heard of no such practice. Given that female names are capitalized the same as male ones (E.G. William and Tiffany), there is certainly no sexual bias in the rules of capitalization. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 07:05, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
The explicitly gender-neutral Binnen-I (e.g., StudentInnen), popular in some in left-wing German writing, might count as a feminist capitalization form. Markus Kuhn (talk) 13:29, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't claim to know German, but aren't all its nouns capitalized no matter what? Also, is the word "Binnen-I" that you mentioned singular or plural? The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 02:14, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
All German nouns have a capital first letter, but Markus' example refers to words having a capital letter in the middle, which is grammatically wrong also in German. StudentIn(nen) can be used in both singular and plural (in singular it refers to a student of unknown sex, in plural to students of both sexes). --Roentgenium111 (talk) 15:20, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

I've heard of it, indeed knew women who didn't capitalise their names, and was just looking for info on it..but with no luck. April 2013 (talk) 23:27, 3 April 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:24, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

All-uppercase Of Names: McCoy, DeForest ("MCCOY" or "McCOY"?)[edit]

1. Is there some rule how to write names like "McCoy" or "DeForest" in all-uppercase letters? I seem to recall some titels and/or final credits where almost all letter were all-uppercase except for "c" in Names like "McCoy" or "e" in "DeForest":


instead of


-- (talk) 09:42, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Sorry for pointing out the obvious: if you write McCOY, DeFOREST, what you do is obviously not "all uppercase". I don't know what your capitalization convenition (a) is called and who (if anyone) uses it commonly. Markus Kuhn (talk) 15:49, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Another way is use "small caps," like this: MCCOY, DEFOREST. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 07:10, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
The only place I have seen all capitalization of names like that is in the military from when I was serving in the U. S. Navy. That format was usually used on lists, and had no specific purpose that I am aware of, other than keeping different ways of someone spelling their name (with regards to the dual capitalized last names used largely in French and French ancestry names) to one specific format for everyone. I do not believe that there is a specific rule for this, I think it is more a convention adopted in certain cases. (talk) 23:41, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Setanta Ó hAilpín is another name with odd capitalisation. I saw that listed as O'hAILPIN on television. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Astonvilla91 (talkcontribs) 11:54, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Article rename?[edit]

This article is only about capitalization rules, not about the history of capitalization or anything else of the social context, which is all at letter case. I think a better name for this article would be "capitalization rules" or "capitalization conventions". -- Beland (talk) 18:12, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

That seems like an unnecessary, fussy distinction. You could add a History section with a {{main}} linking to letter case. The amount of relevant history there is a fraction of the amount of information here. jnestorius(talk) 20:32, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
I differ with your reasoning Beland. Yes this article is about the rules of capitalization, but the reason why those rules are applied are as relevant as the rules themselves. Most of them are used for examples of proper capitalization as well. (talk) 23:44, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Sentence case[edit]

I've removed the redirect here from Sentence case and restored its previous version because sometime in the past three months since Beland's merge into this article, the prominent mention of "sentence case" (which should exist for any unobvious term or topic with a redirect into an article) was either gradually or abruptly removed. The result is that the only place where you can find "sentence case" in this current article is the (until now) circular "See also" link.

"Sentence case" is far too important a subject (especially for Wikipedia) for it not to have a clear, prominent paragraph of explanation. (The Wikipedia use is, of course, part of WP:MOS, but the concept itself is important, too.) If regular readers and editors of this article wish to restore the redirect, I highly recommend reviewing this article's history to see how a "sentence case" paragraph can be restored to it in a logical fashion. Thank you. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 19:30, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Slavic languages (especially Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian)[edit]

This article needs to expand its scope beyond coverage of only the Western European languages' capitalization conventions and should also feature the capitalization norms, practices and style guides of Slavic languages (based on the Cyrillic alphabet, e.g. especially Bulgarian, Macedonian & Russian languages), since these are poorly understood even by the general public which uses them. Please, do provide specific details for the capitalization rules in those languages as well. This will definitely make the text more internationalized/multilinguistic. It should also be noted that the "linguistic Europocentrism" view presented in the article should be shifted towards a broader overview of capitalization conventions worldwide. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ve4ernik (talkcontribs) 21:53, 23 October 2009 (UTC)

Knowledgeable and well-written contributions are always welcome ... Markus Kuhn (talk) 15:52, 25 October 2009 (UTC)


TfL (Transport for London) is given as a special example where the f is not capitalised. This isn't really a special example. Many acronyms do not capitalise the letters for minor words such as for, the, of. I'm thinking of examples such at "LotR" "for Lord of the Rings". In fact, I'm going to be bold... - David Forster —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:40, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Having been bold, I'm now not sure it's appropriate. I've added a new section on Acronyms, but should that really be present or does this article only deal with capitalization of the first letter of a word. I've added a section to the Case section of the articles on Acronyms too.

- David Forster —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:53, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

David, it is said that "fortune favors (en-GB favours) the bold", I believe. I think the convention is not a standard in all places, but rather more the person's preference for using caps. I have seen, as is said in that section, LASER, RADAR, etc. spelled in all caps and all lower case as well, and the same with your example of LotR. I have also seen it capitalized as LOTR as well. It would seem to depend more on the certain person's preference, than any hard and fast standard. (talk) 23:49, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
TfL and LotR are not acronyms, but initialisms (a distinction noted elsewhere in the article).

Bitbut (talk) 09:05, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Title case in non-English[edit]

Can people who know add a section on whether title case is or is not used/valid in non-English? ¤ ehudshapira 23:36, 21 November 2009 (UTC)


"French often capitalizes such nouns as l'État (the state) and l'Église (the church) when not referring to specific ones." -- this is rather awkward. The actual meaning here is more that of an abstract entity personified, and we use the same convention in English:

"The State has always historically sought to increase its power over the individual."

"The Church provided a counterbalancing center of authority over local monarchs."

as opposed to "The state [e.g. Wisconsin] has always prided itself on clean government."

or "The church [e.g. St. Mark's Episcopal] was active in local Democratic politics." -- note in this example that Democratic refers specifically to the party, while "democratic" would be appropriate if the local issue was between, say, royalists and democrats, which could have been the case in, say, the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. -- Craig Goodrich (talk) 22:34, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Non-English Reverential Capitalization[edit]

Does anyone know of any non-English languages that also practice reverential capitalization? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Odd language specificity[edit]

This article shows some strange language specificity. Primarily, it deals with English and, to a slightly lesser degree, French and German. But it also inconsistently refers to other (western European) languages. Moreover, do no other alphabets but the Latin alphabet have capital letters? (The article once or twice refers to Slavic languages, suggesting Cyrillic does.) RobertM525 (talk) 04:30, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Cyrillic and Greek have capitals, making up a sort of family with Roman. Don't know about other alphabets, apart from Arabic & Korean, which don't have them; your point is well made. Rothorpe (talk) 14:43, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Reverential Capitals[edit]

If following the rules of orthography, reverential capitalization is somewhat illogical. We know that in the English, and many other alphabets have lower and upper case letters in them. Certain words, especially nouns, need to begin with upper case letters, in order to serve a sign post, so to speak, for the reader to understand that the word is being used as a noun. Also, sentences begin with an upper case letter, so that the reader can more easily understand that a new sentence has begun. Therefore, since upper and lower case letters look somewhat different, it would be a good way of telling that a new sentence has begun. What does not make logical sense is the idea that writing a noun with an upper case letter, especially a name, gives reverence or importance to the person. How is it possible to give reverence to a person with letters? And, if that's the case, then why is only the first letter capitalized in the name, and not all the other letters? That may sound like we are giving importance or respect to the first letter of the name and not to the other letters in the name. What is illogical about this is that the letters are still the same, whether lower or upper case. They have exactly the same sounding and meaning.

Following this kind of logic, it seems like the set of upper case letters is of greater importance than the set of lower case letters.

Another problem is that if there is a discrimination amongst lower and upper case letters, then why should certain words be in upper case and others not? This is where linguistics meets psychology and philosophy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by DAVIDY (talkcontribs) 16:06, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a forum[edit]

Um, see WP:NOT#CHAT. The Talk pages are for talking about the article, not talking about the topic of the article. RobertM525 (talk) 07:09, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Users please also remember to sign their comments.--Kudpung (talk) 02:07, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

English-language street addresses[edit]

I have always, always seen Street, Ave., Court, Rd., etc. capitalized in street names. (I live in the US.) Is this a regionally variant thing? If so, better make note of it; current wording implies universal noncapitalization among English speakers.

Proof: Just go to any American university website and look for the address at the bottom. Or get driving directions from Google Maps. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:19, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually, I just looked up various addresses for Oxford and Cambridge universities and they cap the street-type too. Does the no-caps claim have any basis at all? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:23, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Historical practice in English[edit]

I was very disappointed that there is only passing reference to the fact that capitalization of virtually all nouns seems to have been common for works in English published in the 17th and 18th century. I would like to know how prevalent the practice was, when it started, when it stopped, whether it was universal or recommended, whether it was borrowed from practice in other languages, etc. DCDuring (talk) 16:45, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

I agree. I came to this page to find out more about the usage of capitals in historical language e.g. wikisource:Constitution of the United States of America-- Brainy J ~~ (talk) 18:27, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Asian language proper nouns[edit]

I think there should be a specific topic on the article about occurrences where Latin alphabet names of proper nouns in Asian languages where the letters appear in a non-standard case, that a proper noun is often typed in whatever case it is originally stylized/typeset in by the original artist/author/creator/etc. on a release so as to preserve the original typesettings (artist intent usually the excuse). Example: "h.NAOTO" is often capitalized "h.NAOTO" in Japanese scripts rather than "H.Naoto" or what have you like in English language scripts. It's kind of funny to observe IMO. Arashi nightmare (talk) 01:59, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

Bold statement about title casing[edit]

Section Titles states:

In English, the first word and the last word of titles should be capitalized. In addition, all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions should be capitalized. Articles and coordinating conjunctions are not capitalized, while sources disagree on the capitalization of prepositions.

Is that really true in all cases? For instance, the English Wikipedia itself uses sentence casing (WP:STYLE). --Mortense (talk) 15:29, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Our article shouldn't ever, except in a quotation, have the word "should" in it, anyway, per WP:NPOV and WP:NOT#HOWTO. It is correct that English-language style guides differ on this matter, and our article needs to reflect this properly. In the course of doing other research on a capitalization question, I've noticed that the vast majority of style guides advise title case for titles of works, then they diverge at various points after that, permitting or "requiring" sentence case (if at all) for different things, such as subtitles, chapter titles, headings, subheadings, etc., and they are not consistent with each other in any way on this. About the only thing that can be said with certainty (other than that there is this uncertainty) is that sentence case is almost never recommended in English for the title of a major work (i.e. one that would be in italics, not quotation marks, such as a book, periodical, album, movie, TV series, play, etc.). It will be shown that use of sentence case for minor works (articles, episodes, songs, etc.) and for subtitles and divisions of a work (chapters, sections, headings, etc.) is on the increase, but I will not bother doing that sourcing here, since it should be at Capitalization in English. The article here should not dwell in excessive detail on English-specific style matters.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:20, 7 March 2016 (UTC)

For universities[edit]

Better going to reliable sources, for instance [4]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:24, 27 September 2012 (UTC)


In reference to this from the article "Most English honorifics and titles of persons, e.g. Sir, Dr Watson, Mrs Jones, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. This does not apply where the words are not titles; e.g. Watson is a doctor, Philip is a duke." It is my understanding that honorifics are only capitalised if immediately before a name, and that when they stand alone are lower case. Which is directly supported by this;

Let’s start with what we call honorifics – “doctor,” “professor,” and “dean” are honorifics you might find on an academic campus. Then we have “mister,” “judge,” “deacon,” “sergeant,” and so on. Some of those are professional designations; others are courtesy titles. When they directly precede a name, honorifics should be capitalized.
For example, when we write Judge Joseph Smith or Deacon Fred Rutherford, we capitalize “judge” and “deacon” because they are honorifics that come before the name. Some also get abbreviated: Prof. Irwin Corey, Dr. Marcus Welby, and Sgt. Joe Friday.
“Mr.” and “Ms.,” of course, are uppercase before a name. “Mrs.,” which is less commonly used than it was several decades ago and which derives from the honorific “Mistress,” is also capitalized before a name. Same goes for “Miss,” which is usually reserved for a younger girl. A boy takes “Master” (if anything) before his name. (It's a little antiquated, but still kind of cute.)
In cases where these words stand alone, even in direct address, they are lowercase. “Hey, mister [small m], look out for that pelican!” “Gee, doctor [small d], it hurts when I stick out my tongue.” "

and university usage guides I've seen.Number36 (talk) 00:22, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Yep. There is a tendency in insider publications (house style) to capitalize honorifics away from names if they refer to someone within the organization, e.g. "according to the memo from the Provost last week ...". The no-punches-pulled way to put this: This is people trying not offend their bosses and get canned. It should not be confused with formal writing style just because some documents that use it are officious. This is also common in fiction writing in the last of the cases that Number 36 outlined, where an author might write "Johnny snarled, 'Hey, Doctor, why don't you take some of your own medicine!' He leapt from the operating table and ..." blah blah blah. The "theory" is that it's a stand-in for the real name of the character. This is not plausible usage or a rationale for it, in standard English in any register, easily proven by two obvious facts: We don't capitalize pronouns (other than "I" and, in some religious circles, those referring to certain religious figures) yet they are such stand-ins; and we would not capitalize a stand-in epithet if it were not respectful, e.g. no one would ever write "He shouted, 'Hey, Butt-munch, don't sit on my car!'" The desire to capitalize them is nothing but a subjective intent by the writer to emphasize deference when it is offered.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:01, 7 March 2016 (UTC)

French and other languages[edit]

More coverage of non-English languages is needed; here are some good starters for French: [5] [6]. Of course, this article in the other languages is also probably a good source, after translation. -- Beland (talk) 17:46, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Yes, but in a separate section please. It's more likely that people come here to read about capitalisation of everything in a particular language than for capitalisation of some specific entity in every language. Gronky (talk) 01:25, 9 January 2014 (UTC)


We're *wrong* on this point. We say "acronyms are capitalized unless they've become words". If it hasn't become a word it *isn't* an acronym, it's an initialism. It's *initialisms* that are always capitalized; acronyms always are not. Rebuttals?
--Baylink (talk) 21:09, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

It's more complicated than that. Most reliable sources on English usage do not distinguish between acronyms and initialisms. "Initialism" is a neologism introduced in a paper in the early 1970s. Some thought the distinction useful and adopted it, others did not. Regardless of the terminology used: 1) There are strings of letters that are sounded out one at a time, as in "UK" and "AFL-CIO", which are acronyms of one sort, or initialisms (depending on source); and 2) there are those that are said as if they were words, like "NASA" and "Amway", which are acronyms of a different sort ("word acronyms", "pronounceable acronyms", etc.), or the only thing we should call acronyms (again, depending on source). Most sources on style in English capitalize all of these fully, except a) where they have been assimilated into the language as everyday words ("scuba", "laser", "radar"); b) where they are proper names that in particular cases are not given that way by convention ("Nabisco", "Anzac"). A few style guides, almost exclusively for news journalism, prefer to use only-first-letter-capitalised style for all pronounceable acronyms, even when the official usage is the opposite ("Nasa", "Unicef" when they are really NASA and UNICEF), even for things that are not proper names and even when it produces confusingly ambiguous results ("Aids") that don't make sense semantically ("Aids" again – the name of the disease it not "Acquired immune deficiency syndrome" with a capitalized A).

That's a summary of the situation. As I work this stuff into Capitalization in English and , I'll source the hell out of it, since I have almost every reliable English-language style guide in print (and many that are not, for historical research), and I've already done and posted the work, at Talk:Acronym#Massive sourcing run. Since the present article is about capitalization in general, not English in particular, it's sufficient for it to note that English-language approaches differ.

At any rate, the distinction between an acronym and an initialism, when the distinction is drawn at all, is only and entirely about pronunciation, and has nothing to do with whether the string has been assimilated as a word like "sonar". It's easy to see where the confusion arose, though, since all the assimilated ones are in fact pronounceable acronyms. You thus end up with a situation in the distinguish-between-acronyms-and-initialisms camp where all assimilated ones are a subset of "acronyms" and none are "initialisms", but not all "acronyms" are assimilated as words ("UNESCO"/"Unesco" is not a word, but a name, yet is an acronym in all sources). No source anywhere would refer to UNESCO as an initialism, whether they agree with the acronym–initialism distinction or not, since it is never sounded out as yu-en-ee-ess-see-oh.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:54, 7 March 2016 (UTC)

Multiple-Letter Capitalization[edit]

Can you please provide references for the claim in “In languages which capitalise alls nouns, multiple letters can be capitalised as in German GOtt and GOTT (God), HErr and HERR (Lord), JEsus (Jesus).”?

So far (native speaker) this looks inaccurate.

j9t (talk) 20:06, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

@Jens Meiert: It's sufficiently dubious you can just remove it. I have a suspicion this is based on styles found in old manuscripts; I've seen illumination take this approach, and it's clear that outside of English it's common to abbreviate with some letters taken as a single symbol, e.g. "Th." for names like "Theophile" and "Theodore"), but it's original research to extrapolate from that into an imagined rule that Gott can be written "GOtt" in German. "Gott" and "Herr" is an emphasis convention used by some bible publishers to represent the tetragrammaton YHVH, usually rendered "LORD" in English editions; it's unrelated to the question.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:08, 7 March 2016 (UTC) HerrORD

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