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Capital letters in odd places

by: Marilyn Owen (27 May 2015)

It always amazes me (although it shouldn’t) that people place initial capitals in very strange places! When I tried to work out why they do that, I realised that nine times out of ten they are, in fact, attempting to emphasise a word or a point. However, using initial capitals in the wrong places is not the correct way to emphasise a word. I recall my own late mother used to do exactly that (that is where I received my English language training in the art of letter writing). Mum used to dictate letters to me and I was her scribe. Sometimes she made rough drafts and I had to make sense of them and write them properly. There were hordes of misplaced initial capitals in her drafts ...

I knew that there are just a few rules for placing initial upper case letters. They are as follows:

  • A proper name must always be capitalised. These are names of people and places. Also included are names of organisations, calendar and historical events and deities.
  • Titles are always capitalised, too. However, do not capitalise the title when it is after the name. An example of this is the Prime Minister, David Cameron but David Cameron the prime minister. This is a common mistake, particularly when using corporate titles. For example, Senior Manager Adele Price, but Adele Price, senior manager.
  • The beginning of a sentence must always be capitalised. This is well known and understood. However, it is important to remember to capitalise the beginning of a sentence when it forms part of a quote – for example, the teacher said, “Stick to the rules when using initial capital letters.”

Still, people will always put initial capitals where they want to put them – and it is the proofreader’s job to sort this out and apply the rules to the placing of capital letters. There are several other ways to emphasise a word or point – for example, that is why we have the italic and bold features in our Word software!



Views: 1178

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Comments...

Ref: 175 It's true people use it for "emphasis"! That, or "excessive quotation marks"...very Annoying for a proofreader (see?)!!
Romany - 15:51 29-05-2015
Ref: 174 Random capitalisation is a big problem indeed!
Garry - 16:02 27-05-2015

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