In general, you should use capital letters to:
- indicate the start of a new sentence
- note the beginning of a direct quotation
- identify a proper noun
You should also capitalize all of the things on the following list we've conveniently compiled for you.
Ready? Here we go:
Names of people and pets: Roseanne, Pinocchio, Spot
Nicknames (but not terms of endearment):
- Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
- Come here, baby. (Here, baby is a term of endearment. Aw.)
- What about Mom and Dad? Those are nicknames for your parents. That's why they should be capitalized, as in I call my mother "Mom," but my British friend Nigel calls his mother "Mum."
Names of specific places, cities, states, countries, and regions: Eastland Mall, Jupiter, Boston, Massachusetts, Ecuador, the Midwest
Races, nationalities, languages: African-American, Chinese, French
Religions, religious figures, and sacred texts: Buddhist, Buddhism, Jesus, Allah, the Bible
Government buildings and departments: Harold Washington Library, Congress
Major historic events: World War II
Days, months, and holidays (but not seasons): Saturday, February, Thanksgiving, autumn (notice autumn is not capitalized)
Product and company names: Apple, Volkswagen Jetta, Nordstrom
Organizations: Habitat for Humanity, Oakland Raiders, League of Women Voters
The major words in titles of works (so no articles, prepositions, or conjunctions—unless it's the first or last word): To Kill a Mockingbird, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Specific course titles (but not areas of study, unless they're derived from a proper noun, like English): Introduction to Meteorology, Art History 101, biology, calculus
Personal titles when they come right before a name: President Kennedy