When it comes to capitalizing words in sentences, if it’s not the first word or a proper noun (someone or something’s name), don’t. Junking up sentences with randomly capitalized words makes them hard to read. The rando-cap crashes like a Meteorite in the midst of Accepted Style, and like a flaming bolus of Elements, it harshes your mellow. You don’t die, but it’s annoying.
And when reading becomes annoying, readers abandon ship. That’s why style guides make these rules. But, you ask, what if it’s your special branch of medicine, niche market, business sector, or any other random word for any other reason—sorry, nope, nein, nyet.
The Usual Suspects
It’s human nature to self-aggrandize. In writing, this manifests in capitalizing one’s title and one’s creations:Mr. Roboto is the President and Founder of this Company.Just because you have a title, doesn’t mean readers should genuflect to it in print (or your company either). Not if that title appears anywhere after your name or on its own in a sentence. But place the title before your name and you have President and Founder D.M.O. Roboto, fully deserving of capitals P and F.
Cranks may hold up bizarre and antiquated exceptions (and not to prove the rule). Getting out ahead, here’s one: colons. If what follows the colon is a full sentence, you can capitalize the first word, or not. Unless you’re a Brit, in which case you can’t, and making it the writer’s choice is just another thing the bloody Americans get wrong. And if you’re wondering, never capitalize the word following a semi colon. In fact if you’re not a professional writer, it’s best to pretend semi colons don’t exist.
Recidivist in Chief
Of course there are off-roaders who capitalize words, willy-nilly, because they feel like it. Like the president: “wall” is not a proper noun. Neither is “tremendous.” But Trump offends on an even greater scale when he leans on the cap lock for his rallying cries of “WITCH HUNT” and “FAKE NEWS.” While it may stoke the base, it stymies the average reader who feels like they’re being yelled at. Unlock it up.
And the next time you’re tempted to bust a reverential capital, remember, the case for founders, gastroenterologists, even presidents is nearly always lower. Offenders will be punished by having their capitals removed.