Posted by: Jack Henry | August 13, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Back to Basics

It is my understanding that in German, all nouns are capitalized, whether they are common or proper. In American history, we went through a period from the 1600s to 1800s where capitalizing nouns was the rage—see the U.S. Constitution for examples. Today we’ll start with the first rule of capitalization and then work through the exceptions and peculiarities over the next week.

Nouns are people, places, and things. As far as capitalization, our main focus is whether it is a common noun or a proper noun.

· A common noun is a general person, place or thing:

o engineer

o park

o network

· A proper noun is a specific person, place or thing:

o Bob

o Husky Stadium

o Gladiator Network ServicesTM

One of the most frequent errors I come across is the capitalization of common nouns because the writer wants to emphasize the importance of the topic or object. Don’t ask yourself if the noun is important—ask whether it is a specific person, place, or thing, or a general person, place, or thing.

  • Incorrect: The Summary displays the Posting Date (not the Effective Date), the Amount, and a Short Description of each transaction.

    Note: While important, the words capitalized in the above example are general terms and do not warrant capital letters.

  • Correct: The summary displays the posting date (not the effective date), the amount, and a short description of each transaction.

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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