Eclectic Blog

Calling All Capitalization Questions

Have you ever considered how capitalization can affect the meaning of your sentences? Take a look at these two sentences and notice how one capitalized word can completely change the meaning of the sentence.

Sentence 1: Help Uncle chase off the horse.


Sentence 2: Help Uncle Chase off the horse.


Correct capitalization is important for three key reasons: Clarity – Correct capitalization helps with understanding and prevents misunderstandings. Readability – Text written in mixed case is easier to read. Capital letters break up the text and helps indicate a new sentence and important information. Image – Using the proper mechanics of writing shows that you are educated and pay attention to detail. However, knowing when and what to capitalize can be a struggle because we see many variations of when and how words are capitalized. These variations make capitalization challenging because we don’t know who or what to believe. Although published style guides, such as The Canadian Press Stylebook, differ only slightly, internal styles of organizations can vary greatly and further compound the problem. In general, you want to capitalize all proper nouns – names of specific people, places, organizations and things. The Canadian Press explains it this way: “Capitalize all proper names, trade names, government departments and agencies of government, names of associations, companies, clubs, religions, languages, nations, races, places, addresses. Otherwise lowercase is favoured where a reasonable option exists.” Here are the answers to some recent questions I’ve received about capitalization:

Question: Answer:
1. Does the term “board of directors” need to be capitalized? Capitalize “board of directors” when it is a part of the formal title. Otherwise, there is no need to capitalize that term. For example:
  • The Terry Fox Research Institute Board of Directors will meet next week.
  • George Franklin was named to the board of directors.
2. When is the word “government” capitalized? Capitalize the word “government” when it is a part of the formal title and when it is being used as the shorted form of the government’s formal title. Otherwise, there is no need to capitalize that word. For example:
  •  Government of Canada has announced a new program for small business owners.
  • The Government has adjourned for the summer. (i.e. Government of Canada)
  • Most government funding for healthcare comes from the provincial level.
3. Are acronyms always capitalized? Most acronyms need to be capitalized. The only exception is if the acronym has become a regular word, such as laser (light amplification by stimulated emission or radiation). For example: NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

What are your capitalization questions? Email us your questions and we’ll share the answers on a future blog post.

Link to 101 Time Management Tips

Hello U of W Managing Your Priorities Participants!

Here is the list of 101 Time Management & Time Saver Strategies I had referred to in class. You will find the list on the last page of the PDF.

The one we were talking about in class was #100: Wherever you go, there you are, therefore, be all there.

Best of luck with your assignment. I look forward to reading them!


Subscribe to Eclectic Blog