Dur­ing a class at church yes­ter­day, I noticed the pre­sen­ta­tion on the screen at the front of the room had an abun­dance of cap­i­tal let­ters in it. Far more than nec­es­sary.

I see this fair­ly often, and it’s one of the writ­ing mis­takes I cor­rect most fre­quent­ly.

You should cap­i­tal­ize words in basi­cal­ly only 3 sit­u­a­tions:

  1. Prop­er nouns (like Cana­da, Jane, and Saskatchewan)
  2. First word in a sen­tence
  3. Main words in a title

I’m not sure why some peo­ple feel it nec­es­sary to cap­i­tal­ize words beyond this.

Here’s an exam­ple I saw on Face­book today:

Kin­da busy cel­e­brat­ing my 20th Wed­ding Anniver­sary with my dear hus­band.

Notice that “Wed­ding Anniver­sary” is cap­i­tal­ized? It’s not a prop­er noun. It’s not the first word in a sen­tence. It’s not the main words in a title. “Wed­ding anniver­sary” should not be cap­i­tal­ized. This should have sim­ply been writ­ten as “wed­ding anniver­sary”.

Remem­ber the next time you’re tempt­ed to cap­i­tal­ize a word to ask your­self if it’s a prop­er noun, if it’s the first word in a sen­tence, or it’s part of a title. Oth­er­wise, just let it be.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness. Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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