language & style

Mind the cap

Subway riders “Mind the gap”. Word lovers mind the cap, consistently. It’s just that capitalization rules can vary by the style guide. We know the rules for proper nouns and proper names but not so much for eponyms, acronyms and initialisms. Here’s how various references cite capital letters.

  • 16th century
  • baby boomer
  • Bible, Torah, Qur’an
  • braille, often capitalized
  • Cesarean section
  • Cajun music
  • diesel engine
  • dumpster
  • eBay
  • Generation X
  • Grammy Award
  • Gypsy
  • iPod
  • k. d. lang, except when the first word in a sentence
  • medieval period
  • middle aged
  • Middle Ages
  • n/a – not applicable
  • Na – chemical symbol
  • Old Man Winter
  • Olympian
  • Petri dish
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Platonic solids
  • Q&A
  • single malt Scotch
  • T-shirt
  • the Sixties
  • the West Coast
  • thermos
  • x-coordinate

By Pam Drucker

Documentation specialist, procedures writer

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