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LawProse Lesson #282: A short capitalization quiz

Capitalization rules may seem like the stuff of grade school, but they can be surprisingly tricky. Sure, we all know to capitalize names, months, and days of the week—but what about titles? Or quotations? When is a noun actually a name, and when is it just a common noun? Quite often, it’s a matter of context. Add defined terms, party designations, court documents, and seemingly arbitrary rules about words such as court, and it’s enough to make the most seasoned lawyer go cross-eyed.

Continuing our series of quizzes, here are 10 questions of capitalization that can trip up even the most careful writers. Try your hand first and then check the answers at the end.

  1. According to Bosse’s trial testimony, when Carter was asked why he fired Batey, he replied, [(a) “Nobody; (b) “nobody] wants to buy lingerie from their grandmother.”

  2. In a March 23 e-mail to Hadley, Park wrote that [(a) “The; (b) “the] operations budget will cover insurance for only two of the vans.”

  3. Spiro Agnew, Vice President under Richard Nixon, was the second [(a) Vice President; (b) vice president] in U.S. history to resign the office.

  4. Tamhill’s failure to mention the events of August 9 in any of her filings raises the question: [(a) What; (b) what] is she hiding?

  5. While Rule 93 requires briefs to be double-spaced, the [(a) Rule; (b) rule] does make an exception for block quotations.

  6. The Act gave the Commission regulatory authority over all commercial uses of waterways or wetlands in the [(a) State; (b) state].

  7. The [(a) Court; (b) court] below erred in holding that § 201(c) did not apply.

  8. The burden of proof in this criminal trial falls on the [(a) State; (b) state].

  9. Mark Fields, [(a) President; (b) president] of Ford Motor Company, has held the position since 2014.

  10. Though not specifically required to do so by the Constitution, the Chief Justice of the United States traditionally administers the oath of office at the [(a) Presidential; (b) presidential] inauguration.

Answers: 1. (a). 2. (b). 3. (b). 4. (a). 5. (b). 6. (b). 7. (b). 8. (a). 9. (b). 10. (b).


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