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    Writing Rules: Capitalizing First Words

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Capitalize the first word in a sentence and in a direct quotation.

    Advertising staffers gathered for the usual Monday meeting.
    Ms. Beggs began, "A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future."

    Note: Also capitalize the first word of a saying, a slogan, a motto, or dialogue when it appears within a sentence. A question within another sentence may or may not be capitalized.

    Marsha believes the saying All's well that ends well.
    The first rule is, When in doubt, leave it out.
    My question is, How (or how) are we going to pay for this?

    Capitalizing First Words in Lists

    Capitalize the first word in each item in a list typed in an outline style.

    Come to the meeting prepared to do the following:
    1. Share your thoughts on the latest building plan.
    2. Explain the changes to the original blueprint.
    3. Provide an updated cost analysis and environmental impact statement.

    Note: Do not capitalize the first words in such a list if all together the items compose a complete sentence.

    Come to the meeting prepared with the following:
    1. a presentation of the latest building plan,
    2. an explanation of the changes to the original blueprint, and
    3. an updated cost analysis and environmental impact statement.

    (From Write for Business, page 205, and Proofreader's Guide PDF, page 17)