A small “grammar rant” about capitalization

I truly don’t know what the hell journalism students are being taught these days, but I can tell you one thing they’re not being taught or even being required to know: a full grasp of the basic mechanics of writing.

Here’s a thing I learned back in elementary school: don’t capitalize articles (a, an, the) in titles except as the first word. Sure, I had the advantage of a fancy, expensive education, having attended public schools in Kentucky (that’s sarcasm, friends — really, really strong sarcasm), but is it so difficult for most people to learn once they’re finally exposed to the concept?

Take a look at this sentence: “This is the last place on earth I’d expect to read such nonsense.” See any errors? No? Look again. When uncapitalized, earth is a synonym for dirt or soil; if you’re referring to the planet where you live, capitalize it.

Also, some nouns are acronyms written in all capital letters: NASA, for example. Please, please stop writing it as Nasa.

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On a somewhat related topic, here’s a link to an article on A Writer’s Journey, author Nat Russo’s blog. The article is “Defending Your Style vs. Being Stubborn.” (See what I did there with italics versus quotation marks? No? Oh, well…) If you’re a writer, or are thinking about being a writer, or have ever felt totally discouraged and useless because you’re an editor and sometimes it seems as if every author and their dog these days insists that grammer dont matter as long as u write all teh feelz (oh, wait — that’s me), you should read it. Nat is a nice guy and knows what he’s talking about.

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to A small “grammar rant” about capitalization

  1. Laura L. says:

    Wait. Wut? Are you saying it isn’t all about teh feelz? Demmit. Foiled again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Please don’t misunderstand me. I prefer stories that make me feel. However, some writers (usually but not always indies) seem to think that an emotional basic premise (protagonist was abandoned by parents as a young child, how sad!) is enough to compensate for objectively bad writing and a bland plot. (There does seem to be a strong correlation between objectively bad writing and bland plots — except for in literary fiction, where a bland plot is a feature rather than a bug.)

    Like

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