News Report of Monsoon in Arizona Desert = Lessons in Capitalization

Wind and rain wreaked havoc in the Arizona desert on Aug. 13, causing flooding that left a muddy mess for Phoenix-area homeowners, business owners and municipal crews to clean up.

The well-written Arizona Republic report offers three opportune lessons about capitalization.

“At Sunland Elementary, near Seventh and Southern avenues, water was still standing in some classrooms Wednesday morning.”

If you were writing Seventh Avenue and Southern Avenue, you would capitalize Avenue in both cases. But when you are listing more than one avenue (or street or lane or boulevard), you capitalize only the primary identifying part of the name.

“A similar event happened in Anthem in July 2012, when an almost biblical 5 inches of rain fell in a 90-minute time span, according to weather service data.”

You of course would capitalize Bible if you were referring to it as the major historic work it is. However, when writing the adjective biblical, a lower-case b is appropriate.

“Ray Dovalina, Phoenix’s street transportation director, said clean-up efforts would resume in the area today.”

An organization often will capitalize position titles when they appear in internal documents. However, in most news writing, a title is capitalized only when it precedes a name: Phoenix Street Transportation Director Ray Dovalina said clean-up efforts would resume in the area today.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)