It's a capital offence

Learning Skills Centre Jo G
Learning Skills Centre Jo G Holmesglen Staff • 10 November 2021
"Ransom Note" by docoverachiever is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Using capital letters correctly will make your writing look more professional and academic. Writing is a skill you can work on throughout your studies & will be helpful, not only in your career, but when applying for jobs. It's important to get the basics right. You don't want your CV looking like some kind of ransom note filled with haphazard capital letters.  

To help you write more professionally, here are a few rules of capitalization:

  1. Always capitalize the first letter in a sentence. Always.
  2. Always capitalize the pronoun “I”.
  3. Capitalize proper nouns.

What is a proper noun? It’s the specific name of a place, person, organization or thing  e.g

  • Names of mountains, mountain ranges, hills, and volcanoes (Mount Everest, Mount Hotham)
  • Cities, countries and continents (Melbourne, Australia, Oceania)
  • Names of bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, oceans, seas, streams, and creeks (the Yarra River, Mullimbimby Creek)
  • Names of buildings, monuments, bridges, and tunnels (the Statue of Liberty, the Bolte Bridge)
  • Street names
  • Schools, colleges and universities (Holmesglen Institute of TAFE)
  • Nationalities and languages (French, English, Japanese)
  • Companies and trademarks (McDonald's, Toyota, Apple)
  • Names of groups and institutions (Liberal Party,  Vic Health)

On the other hand, DON’T capitalize common nouns e.g bridge is a common noun, but if it’s part of a name - Sydney Harbour Bridge - then it is capitalized.

Books, movies and other creative work needs to be capitalized. Usually it’s the first word, nouns, verbs, adjectives and the last word e.g

No Time to Die. 

Conjunctions, articles and prepositions are usually NOT capitalized, but are if they are the first word e.g The White Tiger.

Acronyms, if they create their own word, are capitalized eg. National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA. 

There are more rules. Some more complicated than these. If you’re ever in doubt, contact the Learning Skills Centre with your questions.