We writers and editors with years of experience in the corporate communications fun house all have stories about the crimes against the English language that we encounter. My latest crime story involves capitalization.
I have documents to edit filled with words that shouldn’t be capitalized—such as “federal,” “state,” “statutes,” “cyber,” “laws”—but are uppercase. I have documents to edit filled with words that should be capitalized—such as “West Texas” and “Supreme Court”—but are not.
When did random capitalization become acceptable? Why do people believe that capitalizing a word makes it more important? Capitalization rules have existed for centuries, so why aren’t they followed in corporate communications?
Let’s take a look at some of those rules.
1. Capitalizing a word when it should not be does not make it more important.
2. Capitalize the first word in a sentence.
This is the most basic rule of capitalization.
3. Capitalize the pronoun “I.”
Another basic one, but in today’s text-message driven world, it should be mentioned.