Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Capitalize the following:

  • Proper nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns:
Marie CurieChina, Chinese
Smokey RobinsonDarwin, Darwinian

But vocabulary words derived from proper nouns are generally lowercase:

china cupsplaster of paris
french friesvienna sausage
  • The names of geographic divisions, regions, and localities and topographical features such as rivers, lakes, and mountains:
North PoleGulf States
Middle EastAtlantic Ocean
Southern HemisphereRocky Mountains
the NorthLake Tahoe
Lower East SideErie Canal

Do not capitalize directions: She lives 10 miles north of Boston.

  • The names of nationalities, ethnic groups, tribes, and languages:
Asian AmericanCreole
  • Titles when preceding a name:
President LincolnAunt Mary
Queen VictoriaDoctor Johnson
Senator KennedyProfessor Davies

Do not capitalize such terms elsewhere: a biography of the queen; the senator's speech; my aunt, Mary Wilson; the president's fundraising efforts; the residence of the vice president.

  • Epithets: Ivan the Terrible; Lincoln is known as the Great Emancipator.
  • The names of political and judicial bodies, social organizations, councils, and departments:
U.S. SenateRotary Club
Democratic PartyUnited Negro College Fund
State DepartmentU.S. Supreme Court
  • The names for periods, events, and documents of historical importance:
Middle AgesConstitution
RenaissanceTreaty of Versailles
Battle of WaterlooMagna Carta
  • The names for streets, buildings, and monuments:
Fifth Avenue World Trade Center
BroadwayStatue of Liberty
  • The names for the supreme deity and sacred works:
God, the Father AlmightyBible
  • The names for religious denominations and their members:
    Buddhism, Buddhists
    Catholicism, Catholics
    Judaism, Jews
    Methodist Church, Methodists
    Society of Friends, Quakers
  • The days of the week, months of the year, holidays, and holy days:
Thursday Labor Day
  • The pronoun I:
    I told her I didn't want to go.
  • The first word in the salutation and complimentary close of a letter:
    My dear Carol…
    Very truly yours…
  • The first word of a sentence:
    Are you hungry? Lunch will be served soon.
  • The first word of a direct quotation, except when the quotation is split:
    I asked, “Do you really like bats?”
    “Yes,” said Holly, “they're so cute.”
  • The first word and all the key words in the title of a literary or other artistic work:
    The Bluest Eye (novel)
    A Streetcar Named Desire (play)
    “The Road Not Taken” (poem)
    Starry Night (painting)
    “Only the Lonely” (song)
  • The names of ships, aircraft, and space vehicles:
    USS Maine
    The Spirit of St. Louis
    space shuttle Challenger
  • The names of constellations, planets, and stars:
Milky WaySaturn
the asteroid Juno Little Dipper
  • The names of geologic eras, periods, epochs, and names of prehistoric divisions:
Paleozoic Era Pleistocene
Quaternary PeriodStone Age
  • The genus but not the species name in binomial nomenclature:
    Canis familiaris (dog)
    Malus pumila (apple tree)

A Concise Guide to Grammar and StyleItalicization
A Concise Guide to Grammar and Style
Sources +
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