Business Writing

When to Use Capital (Upper Case) Letters

Sometimes people get confused about when to use capital, or upper case, letters in English. Here are some guidelines to help you.

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  • The first word of a sentence
    This is a blog post about when to use capital letters.
  • Proper nouns; that is the name of a particular place, person or thing
    Canberra Times, Prague, Dalice Trost
  • A brand name but not the product
    Firestone tyres, Levi jeans, Schweppes soft drinks
  • Holidays, special or famous events, historical periods or eras and famous documents
    Christmas Day, the Middle Ages, the Magna Carta
  • The first person subject pronoun ‘I’. You do this both when it’s by itself or in a contraction
    I went to work early today. I’m now quite tired.
  • Titles (and abbreviations of titles) when the come in front of personal names
    Dr Elizabeth Jones, Ms Christine Ashton, Mr David Smith, Captain Corey James
  • The days of the week and the months of the year
    Monday, Friday, January, August
  • Words that express family relationships when they are used in place of the person’s name
    Mother asked me to go and buy some bread. Nana said it had to be wholemeal.
    Note: These words don’t take capitals when they follow possessive pronouns or definite and indefinite articles. So, my mother, his daughter, the sons and daughters of local families
  • The names of organisations such as businesses, schools, associations and clubs
    Australian National University, LiveTEFL Prague, Albert Supermarket
  • The specific name of buildings and other man-made structures, ships, trains, and planes
    Parliament House, the Cutty Sark, the Sydney Opera House, Titanic
  • Capitalise geographic names and places (streets, cities, etc)
    Sydney Harbour, Mt Everest, Northbourne Avenue, Prague
  • The names of countries, nationalities, races and languages, and the adjectives derived from them
    France, French, Australia, Indian, English countryside, British English
  • Religions and denominations
    Christianity, Islam, Protestant, Buddhism
  • The names of sacred books
    The Koran, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita
  • Directions when they indicate a section of a country or the world, but not when they are indicating a direction
    The Middle East, the Pacific Northwest


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