How to Edit Your Writing : Tips for Using Proper Nouns

Today we are doing Writer's Guide: Self Editing Basics.

When talking about capital letters it is really important to keep in mind proper nouns. And this is a lesson we've all learned in elementary school, but it is good to review. Proper nouns are things that refer to a particular person place or thing and they are always capitalized and sometimes its more than one word and connecting words like the, or of would not be capitalized but most of the words themselves are.

Let's take a look at a couple of examples. Here we've got three examples of when to use capital letters.

The first example is Shelley - I'd love to be really prepared before we present our plans to Nina next week. This sounds like a business communication, probably an email to a co-worker. Nina might be her boss so you are going to want to capitalize her name. Capitalizing someone's name is just a sign of respect and its common courtesy. You don't want your boss to think you don't have respect or courtesy for her. So we are going to capitalize that.

The second example: Are we visiting the Toronto office next week. Toronto is the name of a city and so that is always going to be capitalized. This also sounds like a business communication and you want to appear smart to your coworkers.

The third example is a little trickier. Did you ever read the Declaration of Independence? That's a proper noun and it?s the name of a piece of work, the title of a composition. And it?s almost completely correct except we don't need of to be capitalized. Since of is a connecting word in this name of this title it does not need to be capitalized. Its short, it's just a connecting word. So whenever you have something like this you know declaration and independence should be capitalized but check and see if that shorter connecting word needs to be capitalized.

Here it doesn't.