Cap It!

Deciding whether or not to capitalize a word is sometimes confusing.  We know to capitalize proper nouns, which are the official name of a particular person, place, or thing.  Trade names, trademarks, and business names should all be capitalized as the owner of the name prefers (subject to some grammar rules – see below).  If you don’t know what they prefer, confirm it by searching for the home page on the Internet and seeing how they treat capitalization.  For example, I see this spelled wrong more frequently than it is spelled correctly:

As you can see from the website, Microsoft capitalizes both “P’s” in PowerPoint.  Thus, being lazy and only capitalizing the first one is just plain wrong!

Also remember not to expect that your reader knows what the product is that you are describing.  For instance, “The Phoenix pawn shop had 10 stolen Rolexes” is more appropriately stated “The Phoenix pawn shop had 10 stolen Rolex watches” since your reader may not know that Rolex is a watch.  If, however, the product name describes the product, it is not necessary to further describe it, as in “My daughter’s favorite Easter candy is a Cadbury Cream Egg.”

Where the trademark officially begins with a lowercase letter, it still falls under the “normal” English capitalization rules because, as the “official” name of a thing, it should be written with an initial capital letter.  For example, the official lowercase “craigslist” would be “I found my treadmill on Craigslist.”


However, where the name begins with a pronounced lowercase separate letter followed by a capitalized letter, it should be the official name unless it starts a sentence or otherwise should be capitalized based on the normal grammar rules.  For example “EBay had the best deal on Mary’s iPod.” is correct because it starts a sentence, even though it is not the correct trademark.  It would be better reworded to “Mary got the best deal on her iPod on eBay.”

Take the time to research proper capitalization.  Companies register trade names and trademarks for a reason and it is important to be correct when using them.  It shows that you are interested in quality work product.

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