Business Writing Essentials


If you are capitalizing a word because it seems important, stop! Back away from the shift key. Let's think about that for a minute.

We use capital letters to call attention to something:

  • beginning a sentence
  • naming a person
  • identifying a well-known place
  • indicating a special event

When you're not absolutely sure whether to capitalize a word, ask yourself if it identifies something specific or something generic:

specific: month - this October
generic: season - in the fall

specific: title of a person - Doctor Watson
generic: occupation - call a doctor

specific: region - in the Southwest
generic: direction - ten miles east

specific: school course - take History 101
generic: school subject - hate mathematics

specific: a language - speak English
generic: home, not planet - our earth and moon

How you use a word in a sentence can determine whether you are being specific or generic:

During our Spring Fling event, Mars was closer to Earth.

The Sahara Desert is larger than our California deserts.

When you're still not sure what to do, look it up. Any old copy of The Gregg Reference Manual will get the job done.

Lesson: Capitalize
Module: Usage
Course: Business Writing Essentials