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SUMMER 2017 Workshop: this one cover regular and unusual rules, and words in book titles.
         Our second workshop topic is capitalization, and instances where italics are the best option. In the previous workshop, you can read some information of which you are probably aware. I also found very thorough list of rules to share on capitalization, and in titles of works. I won't cover that subject in totality because different languages have different rules, and you can check a dictionary for that. As a matter of fact, if you don't memorize rules well, you CAN always look your word up in the dictionary, and you will be given capitalization options.

         This should primarily be a capitalization review. I'm including info of which you are probably aware. I know I forget such rules when I don't use them all the time. Well, this version goes further than the usual handful. I saw specialization in these listings that would show me how to write up and capitalize and correctly abbreviate a legislative bill. I was blown away by the complete treatment of this topic. But, as I said, this package in a book is written and published by the Meriam Webster people. I use m-w.com for my online dictionary, so I admit a bias in reading up on their offerings. They also accept freelance articles on practically anything to do with words and their history. So please know this author highly rates anything from the Merriam Webster people.

         If this workshop is in great part a review, know that the info gets more complicated the further you read on. I am sharing rules of which I was not aware before my preparation for this workshop article. If you consider this list comes from language connoisseurs, this could be considered a connoisseur's capitalization camp. You are welcome to print this article, or refer to it here at any time. Rules are for sharing, and that is my purpose in writing this article.

         It never hurts to review what you already know, in hopes of re-ignited old brain pathways to rediscover deep-stored information. The review info might jar your brain into remembering other things that have slipped off the beaten memory path. What people say, "Use it or lose it," applies to all sorts of forgotten information. So, let's get on with it--old clichéd rules, and capitalization rules you never thought you would need to know, and frankly...well, enough clichés...I'm not going to quote Woody Allen.

These rules are taken directly from Merriam Webster's Manual for Writers & Editors, 1998.


1. The first word of a sentence, or sentence fragment, is capitalized. (No reason to make two mistakes: a fragment and a small letter is out!)

2. The first word of a sentence contained within parentheses is capitalized. However, a parenthetical sentence occurring inside another sentence is not capitalized unless it is a complete quoted sentence. {color:tan}(Again, this is a multiple clause and complex and LONG sentence we're talking about. This is not a mistake I would drop my train of thought for. My first draft often comes quickly, if I don't get hung up on much more than periods. I read for content first. On my second or third draft, or read-through, I would do this level of editing. Basically, just pay attention that each subject has a verb, you have put commas between clauses, and that you followed the same rules for any partial phrase in parenthesis.) Like I just did within parenthesis. You will now know if you create such a monster type sentence (Just my opinion, you know.).

3. The first word of a direct quotation is capitalized. A sentence which ends with the remainder of the sentence does not begin with a capital. A DIRECT QUOTATION, when you are quoting somebody else's words from the start of their statement, is a direct quotation. If you put your words in the middle of an academic essay, you follow the usual rules--you DON'T capitalize the second part of the quote, because you never recognize a second part of anything by putting a capital letter. Ok, I have an example. "I have a DREAM," begins Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, "that one day my four little children, will one day live in a nation, where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

4. When a quotation, whether a sentence fragment or complete sentence, is syntactically dependent on the sentence in which it occurs, the second part does not begin with a capital.{color:tan}Once again, if your quote is in the second part of the sentence, dependent and independent clauses be damned, do not capitalize the beginning word of the last part of the quotation in your sentence.

5. The first word of a sentence within a sentence that is not a direct quotation is usually capitalized. Examples include mottos and rules, unspoken or imaginary dialogue, sentences referred to in sentences, and direct questions.{color:tan}Just follow the rule about capitalizing the first word of a sentence, if you create a sentence where you are quoting a saying or a motto.

6. The first word of a line of poetry is traditionally capitalized. However, in the poetry of this century, line beginnings are often lowercase. The poem's original capitalization is always reproduced. . {color:tan} But one thing to remember when you create your own rules--BE CONSISENT, or you have lost an opportunity to prove your grammar rule/capitalization rule works. This rule kind of lends itself as an update to what poets do now when they write--whatever they want to.}

7. The first word following a colon (:) is lowercase when it begins a list and is usually lowercase when it begins a complete sentence. However, when the sentence introduced is lengthy and distinctly separate from the preceding clause, it is often capitalized. {color:tan}(This is a very specific situation.)

8. If a colon introduces a series of sentences, the first word of each sentence is capitalized. {color:tan}The first word of a sentence is capitalized. Did I already say that? Or are you having deja vu?

9. The first word of items that form complete sentences in run-in lists are usually capitalized, as are the first items in vertical lists. However, numbered sentences within a sentence are lowercase.{color:tan}(If you need to use a run-on sentence, this is how to deal with it and colons. I'm of the old school that believes there is no good written place for a run-on sentence, except on a balled up paper directed towards a trash can.

10. The first word in an outline heading is capitalized.

11. In minutes and legislation, the introductory words Whereas and Resolved are capitalized. The word immediately following is also capitalized.

12. The first word and other words of the salutation of a letter and the first letter of a complementary close are capitalized.

13. The first word and each subsequent major word following a SUBJECT or TO heading in a memo are capitalized.


1. Abbreviated forms of proper nouns and adjectives are capitalized, just as the spelled-out forms would be.

2. Abstract concepts and qualities are sometimes capitalized when the concept or quality is being personified. If the word is simply used in conjunction with other words allude to human characteristics or qualities, it is not capitalized.

3. The names of academic degrees are capitalized when they follow a person's name. The names of specific degrees used without a name are usually lowercase. More general names for degrees are lowercase.

4. The common names of animals and plants are not capitalized unless they contain a proper noun, in which case the proper noun is usually capitalized and any name element preceding is often capitalized.

5. Names of awards and prizes are capitalized. Words and phrases that are not actually part of the award's name are lowercase.

6. Derivatives of proper names are capitalized when used in their primary sense. If the derivative has taken on a specialized meaning, it is often lowercased.


7. Terms that identify divisions of the earth's surface and distinct areas, regions, places, or districts at capitalized, as are derivative nouns and adjectives.

8. Popular names of localities are capitalized.

9. Compass points are capitalized when they refer to a geographic region or form part of a place-name or street name. They are lowercased when they refer to a simple direction.

10. Nouns and adjectives that are derived from compass points and that designate or refer to a specific geographic region are usually capitalized.

11. Words designating global, national, regional, and local political divisions are capitalized when they are essential elements of specific names. They are usually lowercased when they precede a proper name or are not part of a specialty name. In legal documents, such words are often capitalized regardless of their position.

12. Generic geographical terms (such as lake, mountain, or valley) are capitalized only if they are part of a proper name.

13. Generic geographical terms preceding two or more names are usually capitalized.

14. Generic geographical terms that are not used as part of a single proper name are not capitalized. These include plural terms these include plural terms that follow two or more proper names, and terms that are used descriptively or alone.

15. The names of streets, monuments, parks, landmarks, well-known buildings, and other public places are capitalized. However, common terms are part of these names (such as street, park, or bridge) are lowercased when they occur after multiple names or are used alone.


16. Full names of legislative deliberative, executive, and administrative bodies are capitalized, as are the easily recognizable short forms of these names. However, nonspecific noun and adjective references to them are usually lowercase.

17. Full names of high courts are capitalized. However, both full and short names of the U. S. Supreme Court are capitalized.

18. Names of city and county courts are usually lowercase.

19. The noun court , when it refers to a specific judge, or presiding office, is capitalized in legal documents.

20. The term federal and national are capitalized in a name or title or when they are essential elements of a name or title. Federal is also capitalized when it refers to an historical or architectural style, to members of the original or to the adherents of the Union in the Civil War.

21. The word administration is sometimes capitalized when it refers to the of administration of a specific U. S. President, but is more common lowercase. Otherwise, it is lowercased except when it is a part of the official name of a government agency.

22. Names of political organizations and their adherents are capitalized, but the word party is is often lowercased.

23. Terms describing the political and economic philosophies are usually lowercased: if described by proper names, they are usually capitalized.

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