Using capital letters

You should always use a capital letter in the following situations:


In the names of people, places, or related words

 Use a capital letter when you are writing the names of people, places, and words relating to them:


Africa, African

Buddha, Buddhism

Shakespeare, Shakespearean


At the beginning of a sentence

 Use a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence:


The museum has huge potential. It will be a great boost to the area and we are really excited about it.


In the titles of books, movies, organizations, etc.

Use a capital letter in the titles of books and other publications, movies, organizations, special days, etc. In such cases, you need a capital letter for all the main words but not for the connecting words such as a, an, the, or, and, etc.:


Pride and Prejudice

Christmas Day

the House of Representatives


In abbreviations

If you’re using the first letter of the abbreviated words, every letter should be a capital, even if the abbreviated words are not normally capitalized, e.g.:


NBC (National Broadcasting Company)

USA (United States of America)

BMI (body mass index)


See more about writing abbreviations.

People often don’t use capital letters when they’re writing e-mails or other informal messages, but it’s important to follow the rules above in formal writing.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Grammar and usage