Rules on Capitalization

Below are examples of when to use capitalization in specific scenarios.

Complete sentences

Capitalize the first word of a sentence.

  • Example: The students did well on their assignments.


If a quote can function as a complete sentence, capitalize the first word of the quote.

  • Example: Professor Duncan said, "Reading literature is a great way to learn about other people and cultures."

If quoted material is not a complete sentence, do not capitalize the first word.

  • Example: Professor Duncan said that students can “learn about other people and cultures” by reading literature.

A sentence with a mixed quotation incorporates the grammar of the quote into the rest of the sentence. This commonly occurs with the phrase said that. Do not capitalize the first word of a mixed quotation.

  • Example: Professor Duncan said that “reading literature is a great way to learn about other people and cultures.”

Proper nouns

  • Names: Jane Doe, Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Organizations: United Way, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Pasco-Hernando State College, Plant High School
  • Countries: United States
  • Cities and States: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Geographic locations: the West, the East, Global North, Global South
  • Geographic regions: Sun Belt, Rust Belt, the Great Plains
  • Family relation used as part of name: Uncle Fred, Granny Sara, Tito Jorge
  • Family relation used instead of name: Mother, Father, Uncle, Auntie, Grandpa
  • Title used instead of name: Captain, Senator, Cardinal, Coach, Sensei
  • Title used as part of name: Mother Theresa, Senator Smith, Captain Kirk, Coach John
  • Honorifics used as part of name: Mister Jones, Miss Lisa, Lord Tennyson
  • Names of pets: Fido

Days of the week and months of the year

  • Days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Months: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Terms related to nationality, ethnicity, cultural heritage, language, and religion

  • Nationalities: American
  • Cultures: Hispanic, Latino, Cajun
  • Languages: French, Cantonese
  • Religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam
  • Religious affiliations: Christian, Jewish, Muslim
  • Religious texts: Torah, Bible, Quran, Diamond Sutra, New Testament
  • Cultural terms as adjectives: Chinese food, French wine

The names of vessels

  • USS Enterprise
  • Cutty Sark
  • Challenger


  • Organizations: FBI, NATO
  • Countries: USA, UK, UAE, ROK
  • Eras: BC, AD, BCE, CE
  • Time zones: 8:30 EST (Eastern Standard Time)


In MLA format, do not capitalize a.m. or p.m.

Salutations and closing remarks in correspondence

  • Dear Mr. Jones,
  • Dear Sir or Madam,
  • To Whom It May Concern,
  • Dear Hiring Committee:
  • Sincerely,
  • Yours truly,
  • With love,

Academic or business titles

  • Introduction to Adolescent Psychology
  • Painting 101
  • Department of English
  • Senior Assistant Technician

Titles of art and media

MLA format uses title-style capitalization, where only certain words in a title are capitalized. When following title-style capitalization, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all primary words in a title, including words that come after hyphens in compound words.

Examples for the parts of speech that should be capitalized in title-style capitalization:

  • Nouns: The Flower of Evil
  • Pronouns: His and Her Circumstances
  • Verbs: To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Adjectives: The Good Place
  • Adverbs: To Boldly Go
  • Subordinating conjunctions: After, Although, As, As If, As Soon As, Because, Before, If, That, Unless, Until, When, Where, While

Do not capitalize the following elements of a title when following title-style capitalization unless the element is the first word of the title:

  • Prepositions: against, as, between, in, of, to, according to
  • Coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS): for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so
  • The word to in infinitives: How to Train Your Dragon
  • Articles: a, an, the


  • Example: Against All Odds
  • Example: A First Memory
  • Example: The Best Ways to Travel


Examples of different types of media that follow the rules for title-style capitalization:

  • Books: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Short stories: “The Masque of the Red Death”
  • Publications: The Atlantic
  • Short published works: “How to Want Less”
  • Websites: Neopets, YouTube
  • Songs: “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”
  • Albums: Abbey Road
  • Television shows: Adventure Time
  • Radio shows and podcasts: Welcome to Night Vale
  • Apps: iMovie, Uber Eats
  • Video games: The Last of Us
  • Visual art: Lady with an Ermine
  • Productions: Hamilton
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