Friday, April 27, 2012

Capitalization Rules for Writers (Part 1 of 8)

(Kathy Ide wrote this eight-part series.)

Family Relationships

“Kinship names” (father, brother, aunt, cousin, etc.) should be lowercased when used generically or when preceded by a modifier. Examples:

* my dad

* the youngest mother in the group

* her aunt Shelly

When used in place of the name, kinship names are to be capitalized. Examples:

* I know that Mother’s middle name is Janice.

* Does Aunt Becky have a book signing on Saturday?

* Will her Uncle Ed be at the birthday party?

* Hey, Dad, are we going fishing today?

Terms of Endearment

Terms of affection—aka “pet names” (honey, dear, sweetheart)—are lowercased … although some book publishers (mainly publishers of romance novels) have a house preference of capitalizing them.

Kathy Ide is a published author, ghostwriter, and freelance editor. She speaks at writers’ conferences, teaches online writing and editing courses, and mentors new writers. She’s the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( Learn more at


  1. Thanks, Kathy. What about this one? "No, son, we'll go to the lake house on Saturday but not today." Capitalize "son"?

  2. Just had a question re: "aunt Shelly" and "her Uncle Ed..."

    I don't see the distinction in capitalizing Uncle vs. not capitalizing aunt.

    Please advise. Thanks!

  3. Aunt Shelly: It's possessive--her aunt Shelly. It's as if we wrote, Her aunt, whose name is Shelly. I hope that's clearer.

  4. Very useful notes
    thanks for sharing
    good to be here
    expecting more such
    informative notes
    Keep inform
    Best Regards
    Pl. take out the word verification, it irritate your readers.


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