Posted by: episystechpubs | November 30, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Pesky Proper Nouns

Good morning. I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

We’ve discussed today’s topic before, but judging by the questions we get and by the documents we edit, it needs to be repeated. The topic is “capitalization of nouns.”

Here are the questions I was recently asked, along with my answers.

Question: How do you know when to capitalize a word in English?

Answer: Capitalize all proper nouns, but not common nouns. If in doubt, check the dictionary.

Proper nouns Common nouns
November month
Symitar company
Thanksgiving holiday

Here at Symitar, we capitalize the names of fields, parameters, and privileges when we are talking about the specific field, parameter, or privilege. For instance, we would say, “Add a date in the Due Date field.” However, we would not capitalize “due date” if we were not specifically talking about the field. For example, “The funds will transfer on the due date.” Now, back to the questions.

Question: What’s a noun?

Answer: Nouns give us the names of people, places, things, or ideas.

Question: Should I capitalize important words?

Answer: No. It’s not technically against the law, but it should be a punishable offense. In English, we only capitalize proper nouns.

Question: What’s a proper noun?

Silly answer: It’s a noun with a very good upbringing and some family money.

Real answer: A proper noun names a specific person (Donna), place (San Diego), thing (Big Ben), or idea (Truth, as Plato discussed it).

Question: What’s a common noun?

Answer: A common noun is the everyday name of a person (woman), place (home), thing (book), or idea (justice).

Question: Should I capitalize words for emphasis?

Answer: I feel like I answered this question before when you asked about “important words.” The answer is still no. You should only capitalize proper nouns.

Question: What’s a proper noun again?

Answer: For the love of Pete!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

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