Capitalization and Punctuation
Capitalization Rules and Examples
Capitalize the first word of every sentence.
Every building was old.
Capitalize the names of specific things and places.
The Oxnard Post Office is busy.
I took it to the post office.
Capitalize the days of the week, months of the year, and holidays.
NOT names of seasons.
We do not have a holiday on Monday.
I love the spring.
Capitalize names of languages, nationalities, races, religions, deities,
and sacred terms.
My Dominican friend speaks very little English.
Mormonism is a sect of Christianity that studies the Book of Mormon.
Capitalize the first word and every important word in a title. NOT
articles, prepositions and short conjunctions, unless they start the
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” is a good song.
Capitalize the first word of a direct quote.
Joanna said, “My favorite movie is Casablanca.”
Capitalize historical events, periods, and documents.
The Great Depression was a turning point in American history.
Capitalize the words north, south, east, and west when they are referring
to places, NOT directions.
I love living in the West.
Go south on the 101.
Capitalize people’s names.
Rick Walter is Dean of Education.
*Titles are capitalized only if they precede a name or are used in place of a name.
I told Mom I would be late.
My mom is a nurse.
Capitalize brand names.
My favorite soup is Progresso.
Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup is okay, but I don’t really like noodle soup.
Rules of the Comma
Use a comma to separate 3 or more items in a series.
Ben likes chicken jerky, hamburgers, and tacos.
Use a comma to set off parts of dates, addresses, and
I lived at 29356 Laro Drive, Agoura Hills, California for eight years.
Use a comma to set off a number of adjectives that
modify a noun.
I’ve had my sweet, playful, loving dog Oscar since October.
Use a comma with coordinating conjunctions to join 2
He went to the beach, and he had a good time.
Use a comma to follow introductory words,
expressions, phrases, or clauses.
Therefore, I will not loan you two hundred dollars.
Use commas to surround a word, phrase, or
clause when it interrupts the main idea.
My sister, who is 22, attends the University of Washington.
Use commas around nouns used to address
I thought, Rosa, that you were going to do the dishes.
Use commas in numbers of one thousand or
What would you do with 1,000,000 dollars?
Use commas to set off exact words in dialogue.
“Let them,” she said, “eat cake.”
Use a comma whenever it is necessary to
prevent a misunderstanding.
Before eating, the cat took a nap.
Rules for the Apostrophe
Use an apostrophe to form the possessive.
The teacher’s pen
Lucy and John’s house
Use ’s to form certain plurals to prevent
Letters of the alphabet: He writes a’s and o’s the same.
Abbreviations with a period: They have PhD’s in English.
Word referred to from a text: She uses too many like’s in
Use an apostrophe to form contractions.
Let us Let’s
Rules for Quotation Marks
Use quotation marks for a direct quote.
She said, “I’m going to be late tonight,” so I didn’t set her a place at the
Use quotation marks for material copied word for
word from a source.
According to Smith et al, “Children need no less than ten hours of
restful sleep a night” (2002).
Use quotation marks for titles of shorter works, such
as short stories, poems, magazine articles, TV episodes,
songs, essays, and chapters of books.
Did you see the episode of Family Guy called “A Tale of Two Brians”?
Use quotation marks for terms referred to in a special
When she calls me special, I feel like she is saying “special.”
Rules for the Semi-Colon
Use a semi-colon to join two independent
He went to the beach; it was sunny and warm.
Use a semi-colon in front of an adverbial
I love the sun; however, I hate the sand.
Use a semi-colon to separate items in a series
that contain commas.
I had lunch with Linda, my best friend; Mrs. Smith, my
neighbor; and Jan, my sister.
Rules for the Colon
Use a colon after an independent clause when
the material that follow is a list, explanation, or an
Get the following items from the store: milk, eggs, cheese, and
Use a colon for the salutation of a business letter.
Dear Ms. Collins:
Use a colon when using numerals to indicate
It is 12:00 noon.
Use a colon between the title and subtitle of a
An Evolution of Tax Law: Benefits or Penalties?
Dashes and Parenthesis
Use dashes for a less formal way of
interrupting the main idea.
He came- I thought- by car.
Use parenthesis to insert extra
Bach (1685-1750) wrote many famous musical