One of the most common errors in essay writing is the misuse of capital (upper case) letters. Students tend to use capital letters for everything that feels important to them. Excessive capitalisation is distracting and confusing for the reader, and is often just incorrect punctuation. On the other hand, lack of necessary capitalisation can appear disrespectful.
INCORRECT: British and Irish English dialects influenced aboriginal English.
CORRECT: The British and Irish English influenced Aboriginal English.
- Capitalise the first word in a sentence
- Capitalise proper nouns
- Use minimal and maximal capitalisation styles
Capitalise the first word in a sentence
Interstellar space travel will not be seen by this generation. This is too far into the future.
Jean-Paul Sartre penned the immortal words: “Hell is other people”.
The news commentator described the protesters as “thugs”.
Capitalise personal names and their titles
After the American elections, I watched President Obama’s speech with Dad.
I invited Uncle Bob to meet my husband. My mother came too.Louis XVI was King of France and was the only French king to be executed.
Three prime ministers attended the conference, including Prime Minister Pitt.
In Australia, December is in the summer so it does not snow at Christmas.
I hope New Years Day falls on Friday this year.
My friend is training for the Winter Olympics. She will train through summer and autumn.
My sister lives in Brisbane which is on the east coast of southern Queensland.
The students were mostly from South East Asia and the Middle East.
The term ‘Indigenous Australians’ includes Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.
Colonialism resulted in the impoverishment of indigenous people all over the globe.
The non-Christian religions in Australia include Judaism, Buddhism and Islam.
I study education, sociology, history, French and Latin.
Those who take Sociology 101 will be tested this Friday.
I taught a composite Kindergarten and Year 1 class for my practicum. Luckily, they were all Stage 1.
Many children worked in the coal mines during the Industrial Revolution.
The story of Robin Hood originates in Medieval England.
The planet Earth orbits the Sun, and the Moon orbits the Earth.
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The largest moons of Jupiter are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
The University of New England is a five-star university for student experience.
Tom was born in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in the summer of 1978.
The Labor Party promised more funding to hospitals, schools and universities.
Minimal capitalisation (sentence style)
Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalised.
The silence of the lambs
Capital cities of Australia and New Zealand
Maximal capitalisation (headline style)
A capital letter is used for the first word and every significant word (i.e. words such as a, the, of, an, or, in are not capitalised).
the Silence of the Lambs Capital Cities of Australia and New Zealand
There are special rules for using capitals in the reference list for APA references
Minimal capitalisation (sentence style) is used for the titles of all reference list information sources except for the titles of journal articles.Capitalise only the first word, the first word after a colon (:) or em dash (—), and proper nouns that normally require capitalisation (e.g. names of people, places, etc.).
Maximal capitalisation (headline style) is used only for italicised titles of journals. The first letter of every major word in the journal title should be capitalised—conjunctions, articles and short prepositions are not considered major words. The first word after a colon (:) is always capitalised.