Posted by: episystechpubs | April 22, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Get Your Earth On!

It’s Earth Day, but should we talk about the Earth… or the earth? Today’s Editor’s Corner will help you write confidently about your favorite home planet.

Capitalization rules can vary between style guides, but at Symitar, we follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Here’s what it has to say:

In nontechnical contexts the word earth, in the sense of our planet, is usually lowercased when preceded by the or in such idioms as “down to earth” or “move heaven and earth.”

In other words, the word earth should usually be lowercased if the is in front of it. For example, you could say, “The earth is full of renewable resources.” You should also lowercase earth when you use earth in a figure of speech such as, “What on earth has gotten into that kazoo player?”

When used as the proper name of our planet, especially in context with other planets, it is capitalized, and the is usually omitted.

In other words, capitalize Earth when you use it like any other proper name. For example, you might say, “Space debris orbits Earth” or “Earth is similar in size to Venus.” You would never put the in front of a proper name unless your name is Dwayne Johnson.

Another approach is to see if you can replace the word Earth with world. If world makes sense, lowercase earth.

Happy Earth Day!


Laura Bowers | Technical Writer | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. l San Diego, CA 92123-1507

619.542.6935 l or Ext. 766935

Symitar Documentation Services

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