When writing in English, it’s important to know when to capitalize and also when it’s not necessary. In this post, we will take a look at some lesser known capitalization rules and how to avoid mistakes with them.

Names of Buildings

The official names of buildings are always capitalized. Notice that words like “building,” “center,” “tower,” and “palace” are capitalized if part of the structure’s formal name.

The Chrysler Building

The White House

John Hancock Center

Philadelphia City Hall

Also, notice that  capitalization rules require that articles and prepositions not be capitalized, unless they are the first word of the formal name of the building. This is also the case of articles and prepositions appearing in titles of books, movies, plays, etc.

The Palace of Versailles

Names of Streets

All major words in the names of streets are capitalized. This includes descriptors such as “boulevard,” “street,” “road,” “lane,” etc. IF they are included as part of the formal name of the street.

The office is located at 3201 Independence Road, just down the street from the Johnson Building.

Your new address is 18 Parkview Blvd. and is close to shopping and entertainment venues.

Notice that even though “Blvd.” is abbreviated in the sentence above, it is still capitalized.

However, the words “boulevard,” “street,” “road,” and “lane” are not capitalized if they are used in general terms.

If you drive to the end of this lane, you will arrive right at the restaurant.

Since we are just using the word “lane” as a general word, not as part of the formal name of the lane, it should be in lowercase.

Names of Languages and Religions

The names of languages and religions are always capitalized.

The school offers courses in languages such as French, German, Chinese, Spanish, and English.

This also includes the names of computer programming languages.

Since Donna wants to become a web developer, she will need to learn JavaScript, Python, and Ruby on Rails.

The names of religions, as well as their denominations, are also always capitalized.

The pope is the world-wide leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

By far, most of the population of Cambodia is Buddhist.

In the first sentence, notice that the word “church” is capitalized since it is part of the formal name of the religion. The same applies to the name of a specific church building.

Her office is easy to find, as it is location directly across from St. Anne’s Church on Fifth Avenue.

However, the word church is not capitalized if referring to churches in general.

My cousin, an architect, said that St. Anne’s will be the largest church in the city.

We also capitalize the names of denominations of religions.

David was raised Baptist, but converted to Methodist when he was 32 years old.

Names of Wars and Historical Periods and Documents

This category in the capitalization rules often trips writers up. Note that all major words in the names of these three things are always capitalized. Again, articles and prepositions are only capitalized if they are the first word in a name.

In 1945, World War II came to a bitter end after the surrender of the Axis Powers.

As with the names of buildings and streets, the word “war” is capitalized if part of the formal name but not when referring to wars in general. Also, notice that the names of the sides of a war, such as the Allies or the Axis Powers, are capitalized as well.

Names of historical periods and documents are also capitalized. 

During the Age of Reason, people began to change their way of thinking after the superstitious years of the Middle Ages.

One the most famous documents in US history, “The Gettysburg Address,” by President Abraham Lincoln, established equality for all US citizens.

Note that in this case, since the article “The” appears as the first word in the title, that it is indeed capitalized.

All Letters in Acronyms

Acronyms are special forms of abbreviations formed by the first letter in each word of a name, for example, NASA. Be sure to capitalize all letters in acronyms.

Jose attended UCLA, then got a job with the EPA after graduation.

NASA is the official space agency for the United States government.