Posted by: episystechpubs | August 30, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Time for a Capitalization Vacation!

I hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend!

I was just reviewing the Chicago Manual of Style, trying to select which aspect of capitalization we should focus on today. Then I realized this: there are almost 200 topics on capitalization alone. This is just a random selection of the other topics with specific capitalization rules:

· Titles of nobility: Usually lowercase unless referring to the nobles by their titles and names.
Examples: the duke; the duchess; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

· Generation: Lowercase the word “generation.”

o generation X

o the MTV generation

· Government entities: Generally capitalized.
Example: That is a City of Chicago ordinance.

· Judicial bodies: Specific bodies are capitalized, general terms are not.

o The United States (or US) Supreme Court

o the Supreme Court

o the court

· Sporting events: Capitalize terms that are part of the event name (e.g., NBA Finals); lowercase terms that are used generally (e.g., the finals of the Olympic Games).
More examples:

o the Olympics

o the Winter Olympics

· Lecture names: Use title case for the name of a lecture series. Use quote marks and title case for the title of a specific lecture.
This year’s Robinson Memorial Lectures were devoted to the nursing profession. The first lecture, “How Nightingale Got Her Way,” was a sellout.

· Services and rites: This one looks like a free-for-all.

o baptism

o bar mitzvah

o the Eucharist

o High Mass

· Wars and revolutions: Specific wars are capitalized, the word “war” by itself is not.

o Korean War

o the war

· Genes: Human gene names are in all caps (e.g., BRCA1, GPC3); mouse gene names have an initial capital letter but the rest of the abbreviation is lowercase (e.g., Cmv1, Fgf12).

And the list goes on. If you don’t want to memorize two hundred sets of rules and exceptions, my best advice is to check the dictionary when you aren’t sure whether a word is capitalized. We use the unabridged online version of Merriam-Webster, but the Merriam-Webster abridged version is free and will be able to answer most of your questions.

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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