When NOT to Capitalize

Putting in capital letters where they don't belong is as bad as leaving them out where they do belong. Watch for these capitalization traps.
•Avoid unnecessarily capitalizing compass directions; however, direction words that refer to a specific area of the country should be capitalized.


We headed west after the Depression.

     The future of the country was cultivated in the West.

•Avoid unnecessarily capitalizing the words referring to family members. Capitalize them only when they are used as names. If a possessive pronoun (my, our, your, his, her, their) comes before the word referring to a family member, the family word is not capitalized.  


When Uncle Harry visited last winter, none of my other uncles came to see him.

   After my mother called me for lunch, Father served the entree.

• Avoid unnecessarily capitalizing the seasons of the year or parts of the academic year.


If the university offers History of Education 405 in the spring semester, Horace will be able to graduate in May.

•Avoid unnecessarily capitalizing school subjects. They should be capitalized only if they are part of the name of a specific course.

I try to avoid math courses because I'm not very good at them.

Betsy is taking Algebra II and Trigonometry I next semester.

•Avoid unnecessarily capitalizing words modified by proper adjectives.


Polish sausage, not Polish Sausage
Mexican restaurant, not Mexican Restaurant