4th Grade - Capitalization And Quotations

Capitalization and quotations
Capitalize names of magazines, newspapers, works of art, musical compositions, organizations, and the first word in quotations when appropriate.
The ability to determine when it is necessary to capitalize proper nouns including names of magazines, newspapers, works of art, musical compositions, organizations as well as the first word in quotations.

Sample Problems


What is capitalization? (when you use capital, or uppercase, letters)


What are the opposite of capital letters? (lowercase letters)


What are proper nouns? (specific people, places, and things)


Names of magazines, newspapers, works of art, musical compositions, and organizations are all examples of what? (proper nouns)


When should the first letter of quotations be capitalized? (usually prefaced by a comma – , – in direct, formal quotations when the speaker is making a statement)

Learning Tips


If possible, take a “fieldtrip” to a music store, art museum, or just the grocery store. Notice the titles of pieces of work – whether it may be a painting, sculpture, song title, or the magazines & newspapers at the checkout stand. From Winslow Homer’s art to Jay Z’s album to Good Housekeeping, discuss the pattern of the titles being capitalized. Challenge: find examples that are not capitalized and explain why they are not on purpose (e.g. the artist’s preference) or why they are grammatically incorrect. A good example of this is poetry.


If you receive mail from student organizations, look at their mailings – is the name of the organization capitalized? If you go to their website, is their organization always represented in bold, capital letters that stands out? If your child is not associated with any organizations, check out the websites for more information about these:

Also discuss why articles (e.g. a, an, the, etc.), conjunctions (e.g. and, for, or, etc.), prepositions (e.g. of, by, out, etc.) are usually not capitalized (unless they come at the beginning) because they are insignificant, or less important, than what the title stands for as a whole.


While reading any kind of text with quotes – whether it’s an article quoting a source or a children’s book quoting character dialogue – point out how consistently the first letter in each quotation is capitalized. This is not necessarily just because the quotation started, but whenever the speaker begins a new sentence – just as the beginning letter of every sentence in writing is capitalized.

For example:

Jenny didn’t know what she wanted, “I am so confused,” she said. “What do you think I should do?”


If you have CD album covers with artist and song titles, share them with your child. Note that not only are song titles capitalized, but the artist’s name as well, since they are all proper nouns (specific persons and things). If you don’t have examples handy, online radios are great because you can see the titles and artists of the music playing. Here’s a link to try: http://music.aol.com/radioguide/kids-radio. Also, you can find audio files of classic songs on the Internet, even sometimes with the lyrics: http://pbskids.org/music/. Look at the pattern of capitalization in titles. Contrast the titles to the lyrics in the songs, which are usually not capitalized, except sometimes when they begin sentences.


With the advances in technology, some grammatical rules are lost. Some websites, blogs, emails, instant messagers, and some music artists have made typing in all lowercase a common, but incorrect, practice. Discuss the order and need in retaining these specificities like capitalization. Imagine seeing advertisements and signs on buildings such as:

  • target

  • chevron

  • denny’s

  • nbc

  • wheel of fortune

Don’t they look odd? Furthermore, think about what confusion it could cause in text for words with multiple uses, such as the television series Friends and just talking about your friends.

Extra Help Problems


Why should the first letter of quotations be capitalized? (although it often occurs in the middle of a sentence, it is a quote of someone beginning a sentence)


Why should proper nouns be capitalized? (names are capitalize to identify certain people, or to give recognition to individuals; proper nouns are names of specific items, people, places, etc. that also deserve recognition)


What are examples of names of magazines that should be capitalized? (Teen, People, Newsweek, National Geographic, etc.)


What are examples of newspapers that should be capitalized? (Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, etc.)


What are examples of works of art that should be capitalized? (Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Nightwatch by Rembrandt, The David by Michelangelo, Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera, etc.)


What are examples of musical compositions that should be capitalized? (Mozart’s Piano Concerto 1, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder, My Name Is by Eminem, etc.)


What are examples of organizations that should be capitalized? (National Association for Gifted Children, Los Angeles Unified School District, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, etc.)


If you’re not sure whether to capitalize a title or not, where could you look? (in an encyclopedia – written or online)


Why might an author or artist purposefully not capitalize a word that should be, or capitalize a word that shouldn’t be? (to add style; to make a statement; because they don’t know the rules, etc.)


Why do authors or artists sometimes capitalize all words in a title? (to emphasize the text; because they’re not sure of capitalization rules, etc.)


Why aren’t articles, conjunctions, or prepositions capitalized in names or titles? (they are not considered to be “major” words)


What are examples of articles? (a, an, the, etc.)


What are examples of conjunctions? (but, nor, and, for, or, etc.)


What are examples of prepositions? (of, by, out, over, etc.)


Is the beginning of a name or title always capitalized, even if it begins with an articles (e.g. a, an, the, etc.), a conjunctions (e.g. and, for, or, etc.), or a prepositions (e.g. of, by, out, etc.)? (yes)


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