Last week I read a novel that contained multiple capitalization errors. The book was published by a small press, which made me wonder how thorough the copyediting process is there. It also made me wonder if certain capitalization errors have become so prevalent that some copyeditors aren’t aware that they are mistakes.
Here are two areas where I frequently see capitalization errors:
In the novel that prompted this post, the protagonist spent a lot of time discussing her job and her coworkers, and she repeatedly capitalized everyone’s title. The rule is that titles are only capitalized if they go directly before a person’s name.
- Gloria saw the Director of Human Resources in the coffee room. (INCORRECT)
- Gloria saw the director of human resources in the coffee room. (CORRECT)
- Last week David was promoted to Marketing Manager. (INCORRECT)
- Last week David was promoted to marketing manager. (CORRECT)
- Yesterday professor Murphy called a department meeting. (INCORRECT)
- Yesterday Professor Murphy called a department meeting. (CORRECT)
Seasons of the year aren’t capitalized unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.
- This Fall Gloria is planning a trip to New York. (INCORRECT)
- This fall Gloria is planning a trip to New York. (CORRECT)
- Every Summer David takes a trip up the coast with his buddies. (INCORRECT)
- Every summer David takes a trip up the coast with his buddies. (CORRECT)
- I love spending cold Winter nights curled up with a book. (INCORRECT)
- I love spending cold winter nights curled up with a book. (CORRECT)
- I would say that spring is my favorite season. (CORRECT)
- Spring is my favorite season. (CORRECT)
The rules of capitalization are clear, even if not everyone follows them. However, that shouldn’t stop us from abiding by them. It’s an uphill battle, but we’re fighting the good fight!