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This document is not current, and is kept only for archival purposes. Please refer to Everything2 Help for all up-do-date help documents.

One of the most common errors we find with Everything2 writeups is the lack of capitalization. We see some astounding prose, but the lack of proper capitalization makes it very difficult to read paragraphs. There are users on E2 who will stop at the first sentence and downvote a node with these sorts of problems. Given the general quality of writing here, this is a tragedy.

First off, if you are writing a node without capitalization for poetry or for effect, such as in e.e. cummings' poetry, then by all means continue to do so. If you're avoiding capitalization because of a broken keyboard, get a new one. It ruins your prose, and your message will either not be read or not be understood. If the lack of capitalization is due to not remembering the grammar rules, they are listed below. Note that a lot of these examples should actually be broken up into several sentences, but they are used to show multiple examples of the rule.

General Rules for Capitalization

  1. Capitalize the first word in a sentence.
    she went to the movies with my best friend.
    Should be:
    She went to the movies with my best friend.

  2. Capitalize proper nouns and proper adjectives. These include people's names, geographical names, proper names of monuments, proper names of organizations, ships, trains, aircraft, academic institutions, historical events and eras, religions and artifacts, nationalities, and trade names.
    The canadian, formerly a british subject, flew the enola gay over the atlantic ocean, around the eiffel tower, back to the united states, then landed on alfred's nike sneaker.
    Should be:
    The Canadian, formerly a British subject, flew the Enola Gay over the Atlantic Ocean, around the Eiffel Tower, back to the United States, then landed on Alfred's Nike sneaker.

  3. Capitalize titles of people and titles of works, including documents, speeches, films, art and music.
    After listening to "new york, new york" (as sung by Frank Sinatra) while reading metamorphosis by Kafka, professor Wharfinger went to see a clockwork orange.
    Should be:
    After listening to "New York, New York" (as sung by Frank Sinatra) while reading Metamorphosis by Kafka, Professor Wharfinger went to see A Clockwork Orange.

  4. Capitalize family relationships if the word is used as part of a proper name or as a complete substitute for a name.
    My uncle Joe liked mother, but he hated my father.
    Should be:
    My Uncle Joe liked Mother, but he hated my father.
    Note: "my father" is not capitalized because it is not a substitute for Father. He is not being directly addressed; he is being referred to.

  5. Capitalize compass directions only if they specify a specific geographical region.
    Wharfinger headed north to Canada, then decided to visit the northern territories.
    Should be:
    Wharfinger headed north to Canada, then decided to visit the Northern Territories.

  6. Do not capitalize seasons or parts of a year.
    During the Spring, Wharfinger enrolled for the Fall Semester.
    Should be:
    During the spring, Wharfinger enrolled for the fall semester.

If you at least attempt to use proper grammar, your writeups will garner more positive responses, more readers and more praise. If you have something to say, don't let something as small as a capital letter stand between your message and your audience.

What about capitalization in node titles?

Administrators here spend a whole lot of time trying to fix the titles of nodes in this place. Why? You might well ask. Well, when you create a node title, it becomes a part of the data base. It does not belong to just you. The writeup is yours, but the node title will be used by others, hopefully. Perhaps many others. So please try and make it as nice-looking as you can.

Here are the general E2 preferences:

First and foremost, it should be evident that proper nouns should be capitalized. It is annoying when we have to go back and capitalize a node title which is obviously a proper noun. We realize that you might have typed it in the search box in lower case just to see if it was already here, but that was no mandate that you should have gone ahead and created the node with the title in this format. You could have just as easily gone back and typed it in correctly before creating the node.

As for single word node titles, Mr. Webster always capitalized them when he created a node. The general feeling seems to be that this was a bad idea, according to more modern standards. The preference on this is up to the individual user.

As for multi-word titles, it looks nicer if the first word in a phrase which looks like a sentence is capitalized. For example: Nodeshells marked for destruction has the feel of a sentence. If the phrase is, for instance, a scientific term (such as exposure index), this may not look like a sentence to you. In these cases, as with one-word titles, it is up to the individual user's tastes.

It is preferred that users do not Capitalize Each Word In A Multi-word Node Title which is not a proper noun as if it were (except for the first word in the phrase; see above). We get a lot of feedback on this, saying something along the lines of, "I was taught that the titles of articles should be capitalized, and these are articles, aren't they?" That's a valid point. However; when a user is searching here and sees a node title with all initial caps, he or she is likely to think it's a song title, movie title, book title, etc. and not just an E2-specific writeup. So this standard will help the users know a bit about the writeup before they hit the link. This seems to us like a fair tradeoff for whatever you were taught in journalism school or creative writing classes.

We really don't like to see node titles in ALL CAPS (unless there is a very, very good reason why), and we would prefer not to have periods at the end of node titles. Node titles which require periods to break up sentences are probably way too long to begin with. There are exceptions to every rule. These are all personal choices, we realize, and you can disagree if you like. But we can also change your title if we think it would help the overall data base.

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