<< Back to Lessons Index

Reading and Writing Rocks Yellow / Lesson 4: Capitalization of Names

The Rules of Capitalization


  1. Capitalize the first word in a sentence.
    • The book is on the table.


  • 2. Capitalize the first word in a direct quotation.

    • He wrote, "Please put the check in the mail.
    • The teacher said to the class, "You may begin."


  • 3. Capitalize names, initials, and titles of people and pets.

  • John Jones
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Professor James
  • Mr. & Mrs. Marvin Smith
  • Albert the cat
  • Skippy the dog


  • 4. Capitalize days of the week and months of the year, but not seasons of the year.

    • Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc.
    • January, February, March, April, May, June, etc.
    • Do NOT capitalize: summer, fall, autumn, winter, spring


  • 5. Capitalize the names of streets, cities, countries, and other geographical places.

    • Streets:      East Avenue, Second Street, Mission Boulevard, etc.
    • Cities:         Hayward, San Francisco, Oakland, New York, etc.
    • Countries: China, Portugal, Mexico, France, Russia, etc.
    • Other:         Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, Grand Canyon, etc.


  • 6. Capitalize the names of religions and nationalities used as proper nouns or proper adjectives.

    • Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, Jew, Buddhist, etc.
    • Chinese, French, Italian, African-American, etc.
    • She studied the Methodist religion.
    • She celebrates Irish holidays, even though she lives here.


  • 7. Capitalize the names of schools, organizations, and businesses.

    • U.C. Berkeley, Chabot College, Cal State, etc.
    • American Automobile Association, Oakland Symphony, etc.
    • Sons of Norway, Rotary Club, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, etc.
    • Allstate Insurance, Acme Auto Repair, The Book Place, etc


  • 8. Capitalize the titles/names of books, magazines, newspapers, musical compositions (songs), and works of art. (Note: Only capitalize a, an, or the if it is the first word of the title.)

    • Books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Cat in the Hat, The Stand, etc.
    • Magazines: People, Time, Rolling Stone, etc.
    • Newspapers: Chronicle, Daily Review, Wall Street Journal, etc.
    • Songs: "Jingle Bells," "America the Beautiful," "Yesterday," etc.
    • Works of art: Mona Lisa, American Gothic, Water Lilies, etc.


  • 9. Capitalize the names of holidays, historical periods, special events, and famous documents.

    • Holidays: Christmas, Fourth of July, Halloween, etc.
    • Periods: the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Great Depression, etc.
    • Events: Homecoming, Winter Ball, Downtown Rally, etc.
    • Documents: Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, etc.


  • 10. Capitalize the names of special buildings, airplanes, ships, and planets.

    • Buildings: Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, etc.
    • Airplanes: Air Force One, the Enola Gay, etc.
    • Ships: the Arizona, the Queen Mary, the Nautilus, etc.
    • Planets: Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Pluto, etc.


  • 11. Capitalize brand names, but not the names of products.

    • Dunlop tires, Crest toothpaste, Surf detergent, Jif peanut butter
    • a Nissan truck, an Apple computer, an Epson printer


  • 12. Capitalize the names of specific courses, but not the names of general school subjects.

    • His courses include Algebra I, Advanced Biology, and Ethnic Studies.
    • His program includes math, science, and history.


  • 13. Capitalize the first word, titles, and all nouns in the salutation of a letter. Capitalize only the first word in the closing of a letter.

    • Dear Mrs. Johnson,  My dearest Jerome
    • Sincerely yours,        Yours truly


  • 14. Capitalize the titles of relatives, but not when used with my, his, her, your, etc.

    • Jill said, " Thanks, Mom and Dad, for everything."
    • Aunt Margaret is my favorite aunt.
    • My dad is the greatest person on earth.

Other words to capitalize

  • The pronoun / The word for a Deity or God