Editing for Mechanics
Proper Nouns and Proper Adjectives
Capitalize all proper nouns and proper adjectives. A proper noun names a specific person, place, thing, or idea. A proper adjective is formed from a proper noun.
Golden Gate Bridge
New Jersey shore
Names of People
Capitalize the names of people and also the initials or abbreviations that stand for those names.
C. S. Lewis
George H. W. Bush
Words Used as Names
Capitalize words such as mother, father, aunt, and uncle when these words are used as names.
Ask Mother what we’re having for lunch.
(Mother is used as a name; you could use her first name in its place.)
Ask my mother what we’re having for lunch.
(In this sentence, mother describes someone but is not used as a name.)
Capitalize geographic names that are either proper nouns or proper adjectives.
Bodies of Water
Sequoia National Forest
Roads and Highways
New Jersey Turnpike
Empire State Building
Titles Used with Names
Capitalize titles used with names of persons.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton
Tip Do not capitalize titles when they are used alone: the president, the doctor, the mayor.
Capitalize the names of historical events, documents, and periods of time.
Boston Tea Party
Capitalize abbreviations of titles and organizations.
MD (doctor of medicine)
ADA (American Dental Association)
Capitalize the name of an organization, an association, or a team and its members.
the Democratic Party
Doctors Without Borders
Capitalize the first word of a title, the last word, and every word in between except articles (a, an, the), short prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions.
National Geographic Kids
“The Star-Spangled Banner”
Inside the Mind of a Cat
In My Pocket
Tip Don’t lowercase every short word in a title. Even though my is a short word, it is not an article, a preposition, or a coordinating conjunction.
Capitalize the first word of every sentence.
Our first basketball game is on Saturday.
Capitalize the first word of a direct quotation.
Jamir shouted, “Keep that ball moving!”
Days and Months
Capitalize the names of days of the week, months of the year, and holidays.
Tip Do not capitalize the seasons.
fall (or autumn)
Names of Religions, Nationalities, Languages
Capitalize the names of religions, nationalities, and languages.
Capitalize the names of businesses and the official names of their products. (These are called trade names.)
Crispy Crunch cereal
Tip Do not, however capitalize a general descriptive word like toothpaste when it follows the product name.
Do Not Capitalize
Grandpa (as a name)
my grandpa (describing him)
Ms. Bewley, the mayor
George Washington, our first president
Ida B. Wells Elementary School
the local elementary school
the lake area
the South (section of the country)
south (a direction)
the earth we live on
Numbers 1 to 9
Numbers from one to nine are usually written as words; all numbers 10 and over are usually written as numerals.
Except Numbers being compared should be kept in the same style.
Students from 8 to 11 years old are invited.
Students from eight to eleven years old are invited.
Very Large Numbers
You may use a combination of numbers and words for very large numbers.
You may spell out large numbers that can be written as two words.
If you need more than two words to spell out a number, write it as a numeral.
Use words, not numerals, to begin a sentence.
Fourteen new students joined the chess club.
Use numerals for numbers in the following forms:
percentages 6 percent
chapters chapter 8
pages pages 17–20
addresses 445 E. Acorn Dr.
dates June 19
times 1:30 p.m.
statistics a vote of 5 to 2
identification Highway 50
Nouns Ending in a Consonant
Form the plurals of most nouns by adding s.
balloon → balloons
shoe → shoes
Form the plurals of nouns ending in sh, ch, x, s, and z by adding es to the singular.
brush → brushes
bunch → bunches
box → boxes
dress → dresses
buzz → buzzes
Nouns Ending in o
Form the plurals of most words ending in o by adding just s.
patio → patios
rodeo → rodeos
Form the plurals of most nouns ending in o (if they have a consonant letter just before the o) by adding es.
echo → echoes
hero → heroes
Except Musical terms and words of Spanish origin form plurals by adding s; check your dictionary for other words of this type.
piano → pianos
solo → solos
taco → tacos
burrito → burritos
Nouns Ending in ful
Form the plurals of nouns that end with ful by adding an s at the end of the word.
Nouns Ending in f or fe
Form the plurals of nouns that end in f or fe in one of two ways.
1. If the final f is still heard in the plural form of the word, simply add s.
goof → goofs
chief → chiefs
safe → safes
2. If the final f has the sound of v in the plural form, change the f to v and add es.
life → lives
loaf → loaves
knife → knives
Nouns Ending in y
Form the plurals of common nouns that end in y (if there is a consonant letter just before the y) by changing the y to i and adding es.
sky → skies
diary → diaries
story → stories
musky → muskies
Form the plurals of nouns that end in y (if there is a vowel before the y) by adding only s.
donkey → donkeys
boy → boys
key → keys
day → days
Form the plurals of proper nouns that end in y by adding only s.
There are two Judys in our class.
Form the plurals of most compound nouns by adding s or es to the important word in the compound.
maids of honor
secretaries of state
Some nouns form plurals by taking on an irregular spelling.
child → children
goose → geese
man → men
woman → women
foot → feet
tooth → teeth
ox → oxen
crisis → crises
cactus → cacti or cactuses
Adding an ’s
The plurals of symbols, letters, and words discussed as words are formed by adding an apostrophe and s.
two ?’s and two !’s
x’s and o’s
a’s and an’s
Tip For more information on forming plurals and plural possessives, see page 439.
An abbreviation is the shortened form of a word or phrase.
Most abbreviations begin with a capital letter and end with a period, though some use no periods.
Tip The following abbreviations are always acceptable in both formal and informal writing:
Mr. Mrs. Ms.
Dr. Jr. MD
In formal writing, do not abbreviate the names of states, countries, months, days, or units of measure. Also do not use signs or symbols (%, &) in place of words.
An acronym is a word formed from the first letter or letters of words in a phrase. Acronyms do not end with a period.
SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions)
CARE (Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere)
PIN (personal identification number)
radar (radio detecting and ranging)
An initialism is like an acronym except the letters that form the abbreviation are pronounced individually.
FYI (for your information)
PSA (public service announcement)
CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
ASAP (as soon as possible)
District of Columbia DC
New Hampshire NH
New Jersey NJ
New Mexico NM
New York NY
North Carolina NC
North Dakota ND
Rhode Island RI
South Carolina SC
South Dakota SD
West Virginia WV
AC alternating current
a.m. ante meridiem
BCE before the common era
CE the common era
COD cash on delivery
DA district attorney
DC direct current
etc. and so forth
FM frequency modulation
MD doctor of medicine
mpg miles per gallon
mph miles per hour
pg. page (or p.)
p.m. post meridiem
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