The question that stumped me this week came when I was writing a medical case study. In the case, a patient complained of a “charley horse.” My question: Do you capitalize the “c” in “charley horse”?
After searching through several stylebooks for rules about capitalization, I was unable to find a clear answer. I asked a colleague, and her response was, “What difference does it make if it’s capitalized or not?” I finally turned to the “MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary” and discovered that the “c” is not capitalized.
I continued writing the case study, but curiosity about the capitalization rules for proper nouns or (pseudo-proper nouns) sidetracked me. Here are seven easy rules to refer to, which include numerous examples:
1. Capitalize geographic names, including the names of canyons, dams, and regions.
• the Antarctic
• Third World
• the West Coast
2. Capitalize the names of languages, nationalities, ethnicities, political parties, religions, and deities.
• Indian food
• English language
• the Holy Spirit