5 Capitalization

5.2 Sentence capitals

Capitalize the first letter of a word that begins a sentence, or the first of a set of words used as a sentence:

  • This had the makings of a disaster. Never mind.

  • Come on. Tell me!

Capitalize the first letter of a syntactically complete quoted sentence. If, as occasionally happens in fiction or journalism, quotation marks are not used, the first word is generally not capitalized:
  • Sylvie replied, ‘She’s a good girl.’

  • I thought, ‘There goes my theory.’

  • The question is, does anyone have an antidote?

Quoted single words or phrases that do not constitute a sentence are not capitalized:

  • He’d say ‘bye’ and run down the wide school steps

  • Certain young wines do not ‘travel well’

For a full discussion of quotation marks and the punctuation that accompanies them see 9.2.

In British English, matter following a colon begins with a lower-case initial, unless it is a displayed quotation or extract, but in US style a capital letter may be used after a colon if it introduces a complete sentence.

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New Hart's Rules


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