Saturday, October 13, 2007

Use, Don't Abuse, Capital Letters

I've been having fun today writing blog reviews at In looking through blog listings, I find a number of things I would not have run across in my obsession with grammar and writing.

One of those things drives me 'round the bend, however. People abuse capital letters or neglect them entirely, not just on the few blogs I've looked at there but across the Internet and out into “real” life. Let us review a few basics for using capital letters.

  • Use capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and for proper names like Bob or Omaha, Nebraska in a sentence. Capitalize the letter “I” when you are writing about yourself.
  • Capitalize each words in your headlines and titles, except for prepositions and articles. “Terror on the High Seas” is correct while “Fear Strikes The hearts Of Sailors” is not. Always capitalize the first and last words of your title, however, like “Out of Danger Now?”
  • Use bold and italic fonts for emphasis, rather than ALL CAPS. Your writing will look more polished and less hysterical, unless you highlight every other word. If you do, capitalization may not be your biggest writing problem. (Note: Avoid using underlined word for emphasis on-line as it usually indicates a hyperlink and folks will expect to be able to click on underlined words.)
These three tips should get you on the right track to using capital letter with grace and style. Now get out there and write.


Jack Payne


The big NYC publishing houses have gone to sleep as far as insistence on proper use of the King's English.

When I read a novel last year with no quotes around the dialogue, I thought, it's only a matter of time before the re-emergence of stone tablets and chalk in our literary society.



^ Ouch.

As a note, italics are technically the proper form for emphasis, but for online writing, bold can be used some since it's easier to see. Otherwise, boldface type mostly sticks to headlines.



Good point--I didn't differentiate between print and on-line publishing.