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Grammar Repair Shop: Maintain a short list of words to capitalize

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Problem: Several readers have asked recently about whether to capitalize particular words, ranging from job titles to seasons.


Lesson: Although some style guides differ, in general, few words other than proper nouns should appear in uppercase.

Do capitalize:


3 Official titles preceding a name, including executive, professional, civic, military and religious titles. Examples: Mayor Maggie Stewart and Chief Financial Officer Bert Jones.


3 Official names of divisions or departments of an organization, but not general references to those units. Examples: "General Motors' Parts Division," but "Please deliver that invoice to the accounting department."


Don't capitalize:


3 Common nouns that stand in for a proper noun. Examples: "The Widgets Co.," but "the company." Note: Some style guides call for capitalizing high-ranking titles when used alone to replace the full name, such as "the President."


3 Common job titles. Example: "She gave the package to deliveryman Chris Marlin."


3 The word "city" or "state" unless it's part of the actual name or a well-known nickname. Examples: Kansas City, the city of Pittsburgh.


3 The word "the" unless it's part of an official name. Examples: "The Washington Post," but "the Washingtonian magazine."


3 Directions (north, south, east, west) unless they are part of a proper name or a well-known region. Examples: "Go north on 16th Street," but "Most of our customers live in the South."


3 The names of seasons (spring, summer, winter, autumn) when not part of an official name..

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