Proper nouns

Capital letters distinguish proper nouns from common nouns. Proper nouns refer to unique individuals and entities. Thus China, the name of a unique country, is distinct from china, the common noun for the cups and saucers on the table.

Proper nouns include:

  • personal names, including nicknames and epithets  

Andrew     Johnsson     Kafka     Pavlov     Wang

Barack Obama     Mother Teresa     Red Baron     Iron Lady

  • family names with particles; note that the particles do not usually take capitals, but there are exceptions, so it is best to check with the source
Daphne du Maurier     Vincent van Gogh
  • countries, people and languages

America [country]     American [people]     China [country]     Chinese [language and people]     Spain [country]     Spanish [language and people]

People in north Africa speak Arabic.    

The official language of the government in China is Mandarin.  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander [people]     

One of the most widely spoken Aboriginal languages is Warlpiri. [language and people]

  • names of religions (and their adjectives) and deities

Buddhism, Buddhist     Christianity, Christian     Hinduism, Hindu     Islam, Islamic, Muslim     Judaism, Jewish

Allah     God     Jehovah     Lakshmi     Shiva     Yahweh

  • specific names of other entities, such as ships, aircraft and other vehicles (which take italics)
HMS Endeavour     the Ghan     the Indian Pacific     Puffing Billy
  • days of the week and months; capitalise both their full and abbreviated forms

Monday     Friday     Wed     Sat

January     March     Apr     Dec

User login

... or purchase now

An individual subscription is only A$60 per year

Group and student discounts may apply

Australian manual of scientific style Start communicating effectively