Punctuation Series: How to Capitalize Tricky Words

capitalizing tricky words

Presentation is everything, especially when it comes to the publishing world. And your presentation of punctuation is crucial to your book’s success. But punctuation can be tricky, boring, and downright distressing at times. As a writer and an editor, I completely understand your frustration with grammar altogether. You’d rather write, right? Right! So for 2019, I’d like to continue to focus on a simple, easy-to-understand punctuation series that I hope will be a help and encouragement to you, allowing you more time to write well.

How to Capitalize Tricky Words

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that capitalizing words are tricky. We want to make our manuscript as clean as can be for our editor because we want them to be more concerned about developing our content than fixing pesky punctuation errors … most of the time. (References used: Chicago Manual of Style [for manuscripts], The Associated Press Stylebook [for journalistic style], and Christian Writer’s Manual of Style [for biblical works or manuscripts], and Merriam Webster Online Dictionary [for everything, including spelling and word origin].)

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, take notice how to capitalize these words:

  1. Words using time reference.
  • a.m. [CMoS, AP]
  • p.m. [CMoS, AP]
  • eternity [CWMS]
  1. Words referring to Deity.
  • Abba (term for God, as in “Father” or “Daddy”) [CWMS]
  • the Almighty
  • almighty God (used as an adjective here)
  • Alpha and Omega
  • Angel of the Lord (a visible manifestation of God)
  • the Anointed One
  • blessed name
  • Chief Shepherd
  • the Crucified One
  • the Door, the Eternal, the Guide, the Head, the Holy One
  • Divine King
  • the Divinity (but “the divinity of Christ”)
  • Divine Father
  • God’s Son
  • God’s Word (the Bible)
  • God’s word (statement or promise)
  • Light of the World

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but common words that are tricky to know how to capitalize.

  1. Words referring to education.
  • Master of Science
  • master’s, master’s degree
  • business degree
  • Bachelor of Writing
  • bachelor’s, bachelor’s degree
  • MFA

Again, not exhaustive, but gives you a general idea. All are from CMoS.

  1. Words referring to the Internet Age.
  • the Web (Merriam Webster dictionary), the web (AP)
  • webcast (AP)
  • webmaster (MW)
  • Wi-Fi (MW)
  • website (CMoS, AP)
  • internet (CWMS)
  • Internet (CMoS, MW)

Using correct capitalization is important because presentation makes a world of difference to an editor, agent, publisher, and readers. That may seem counterintuitive because the writing is equally important, but it’s the presentation that tends to enhance your credibility as a writer. (Especially of you self-publish and are doing your own editing.)

Next month, we’ll look at some more ways to edit the punctuation in your manuscript, but for now. . .

Please take a minute and join in the discussion! I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of your pesky capitalization words?  

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