authors, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Ten mistakes a reader never misses: Unnecessary capitalization (Part 5)

This is fifth in a series of blog posts I have done about the topic of editing. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have your manuscript edited by an experienced editor. So that means you may have to spend a little money to polish your manuscript, but the investment will be worth it if your desire is to sell books. I have seen many journalists change their mind about interviewing an author after they have received the book and found grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors in a book. One of the most challenging areas of editing is capitalization.

While proper capitalization may not seem like an egregious mistake, unnecessary capitalization throughout a book can make sentences cumbersome to read and affect the overall look of the page. Capitalization might be the trickiest of editing decisions. There are rules, but context is a major factor even though style guides as thick as dictionaries address when to capitalize and when not to. It can take years of experience editing different types of books to make good capitalization choices that result in professional copy and prose. Who knew something like capitalization could be so complicated?

 Which is correct?

 New York state police department

New York State police department

New York State Police Department

All could be correct. It depends on context. That’s why you want to make sure you work with a seasoned editor who knows how the context of the sentence dictates proper capitalization.

 Which words in this sentence should be capitalized?

 Tom Jones, President and Head Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, would attend the Third Annual Conference of the Board of Directors after he arrived at the Indianapolis Airport.

 In this case, only Tom Jones and Indianapolis should be capitalized. Everything else is lower case.  Now not only is that correct, but it also makes the sentence easier to read. Unnecessary capitalization can make it difficult on the reader.


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