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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Capitalization

Capitalizing Composition Titles: The Lowdown

Posted on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at 7:55 pm

Which words should be capitalized in titles of books, plays, films, songs, poems, essays, chapters, and the like? This is a vexing matter, and policies vary. The time-honored advice—capitalize only the “important” words—doesn’t help much. Aren’t all words in a title important? The following rules for capitalizing composition titles are virtually universal. • Capitalize the …

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Rules, Policies, and Judgment Calls

Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 4:23 pm

Readers seemed to enjoy “Are Two r’s One Too Many?” our column about the pronunciation of February. But we also received a few emails like this one: “Why on earth is there an apostrophe in the title??” We understand the reader’s concern. Starting in grade school, English teachers rail against sentences like “Banana’s make good snack’s.” Students …

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Nice Publication—Until You Read It

Posted on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 5:22 pm

A table by the front door of a hip Northern California restaurant is stacked with complimentary copies of a forty-three-page mini-magazine. This handsome brochure, produced by the company that manages the establishment, is printed on thick, textured paper. It’s full of sumptuous full-color photos depicting the glories of food and drink. Somebody spent a lot …

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The Case of the Missing Hyphen, Part 2

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2014, at 8:08 pm

We thank all of you who took the time to respond to the question we posed two weeks ago: Should it be e-mail or email? There were eloquent arguments for both sides, but email won decisively. “Time to join the 21st century,” wrote one gentleman, who added, “and I’m 61 years old.” Many of you …

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Sic for Sick Sentences

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2014, at 2:01 pm

We have noticed a dismal new trend: not capitalizing words that need it. Flouting the rules of capitalization is yet another indignity visited upon our beleaguered language by self-appointed visionaries who seem hellbent on transforming standard English, even though many of them can barely read, write, or speak it. From a recent magazine article: “ ‘i …

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Christmas ’Log Review

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 7:12 pm

Every year, for six weeks or so, I get a taste of what it’s like to be a superstar. From late October to early December, I am accosted daily by an aggressive mob of stalkers who know where I live. Their urgent need for my attention seems to be their only reason for being. No, …

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Kinship Names: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize?

Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at 4:16 pm

Several readers have asked why kinship names, such as names of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, etc., are sometimes capitalized and sometimes not. Let’s have a closer look. Rule 1: Capitalize a kinship name when it immediately precedes a personal name or is used alone, in place of a personal name. Examples Andy and …

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When to Capitalize People’s Titles

Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2010, at 10:35 am

When should you capitalize someone's title? We get this question quite often so here are some rules and guidelines: Guideline: Though there is no established rule on writing titles in the complimentary closing of a letter, we recommend capitalizing a person's title when it follows the name on the address or signature line. However, you …

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Capitalization of Governmental Words

Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2008, at 2:18 am

When you write about or to a governmental agency, do you wonder when to capitalize? Here are some simple rules to help you. Rule: When you use the complete names of departments, capitalize. You may also capitalize a shortened form of a department. Do not capitalize when these words are used as adjectives or generically. …

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Capitalization After Colons

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2007, at 6:46 pm

Have you run across the situation where one sentence ending with a colon is followed by another sentence? Do you capitalize the first word of that second sentence? Why would you use a colon between the two sentences rather than a period or a semicolon? Rule for colons between sentences: Use a colon instead of …

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