If you are anything like me, you learned your capitalization rules in elementary school through the Shurley Method. I remember sitting at a desk surrounded by my peers – each of us clinging to our green and white paperback packets. The teacher would instruct us to flip to a page and we would begin each grammar session the same way: reciting a rousing jingle in unison.

“Add a capital letter, letter

And an end mark, mark.

Now, we’re finished, and aren’t we smart!

Now, our sentence has all its parts.”

The grammar geek that I was absolutely loved the Shurley Method. And though it seems trivial to implement as an adult, the rules taught are certainly still applicable. While capitalization rules are, for the most part, straightforward, there is an important note presenters must address on their slides.

Capitalization Across Lists

In many instances, presenters may find themselves incorporating lists of items on their slides. Obviously, the beginning of each listed item should be capitalized. But when you are dealing with a set of slides – as opposed to maybe one document or piece of material – you need to ensure that you are maintaining consistent application. In the example below, each item in the list on the slide is capitalized according to a different standard. Doesn’t it look messy, disorganized, and unprofessional?

 

Inappropriate capitalization example

By contrast, the following slide achieves optimal consistency – resulting in no hesitation on the part of the viewer or reader.

Appropriate capitalization example

 

Capitalization Across Headers

Another vital function of capitalization is apparent in slide headers. Every single slide of your presentation does not need to include a header in the traditional sense. But on those slides where you do want to establish a header, it should follow the same capitalization structure throughout the rest of your deck. You’ll likely use headers to introduce your main points/sections. I would suggest capitalizing every word in your headers on these particular slides – aside from article adjectives like a, an, and the.

Why is Capitalization Important?

Writers use capitalization to signify the start of a sentence or to warn readers that they are writing about a specific noun instead of a generic one. When a writer or presenter changes his or her wording from capitalized versions to lowercased versions, it alerts viewers and causes them to consider the intent of the message as a whole. As evidenced in the previous list example, inconsistent capitalization halts the reading process, slows the ability to comprehend, and increases the opportunity for misinterpretation. Presenters who want to convey their message in the most effective and efficient manner should pay extra attention to the capitalization standards they are setting in their presentations.

Additional Grammar Resources:

5 Ways that Consistency Matters

Grammar Book: Capitalization Rules

The Concept of Consistency in Writing and Editing

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