Capitalization: Use It Effectively in Your Research Work

Do you know the rules of capitalization?

Smart use of capital letters can give your paper an edge.

Using capitalization in a research paper can be tricky. It may be tempting to capitalize a word that you want to emphasize, but is it always a good idea to do so? In this post, we help you to figure out exactly where those capital letters should go.

Rules for capitalization

First, let us quickly go through the rules regarding the usage of capital letters. You should use capital letters when:

  • You begin a sentence.
    Example: There was heavy traffic on the road.
  • You use a proper noun.
    Example: Barack Obama, New Zealand, Eiffel Tower
  • You use an abbreviation.
    Example: EU (European Union), IT (information technology), CEO (chief executive office)
  • You begin writing a speech.
    Example: The woman said, ‘My sister will sing the song.’
  • You write the name of a day, month or a festival.
    Example: Wednesday, September, Christmas
  • You write a title before someone’s name.
    Example: Sir Isaac Newton

You can learn more about the correct ways of using capital letters here.

What not to capitalize

  • For emphasis
    At times, you may wish to capitalize an entire word to get your point across. But the rules of grammar do not permit it.
    Example: The rules of capitalization can be TRICKY.
    Capitalizing the word ‘tricky’ at the end is incorrect. Plus, it takes away focus from the rest of the sentence.
  • Common nouns
    Researchers often capitalize the initial letters of various common nouns. This is a mistake.
    Example: The degree programme in Botany is interesting to me.
    Here, the lowercase (‘botany’) should be used instead. Use capital letters only when providing the official name of the course.
    Example: The seminar attracted Sales Managers from around the world.
    There is no need to capitalize ‘Sales Managers’ here, for it is a common noun. Capitalize the initial letters only when you refer to a specific sales manager (e.g. Sales Manager—Berlin).

Indeed, mastering the rules capitalization can benefit your writing. But it can be a confusing tool. Keep these points in mind when you write your next paper and your job should become easier.

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