3 Types of Capitalization Errors in Styling Quotations
Confusion sometimes ensues when writers are deciding whether a quotation merits capitalization. Here are three ways capitalization errors can result.
1. As someone once told me, “successful companies have multiple founding moments.”
Occasionally, a writer will not capitalize the first word of a complete quoted statement preceded by an attribution, perhaps because of the assumption that the quotation, as part of a larger sentence, is not grammatically complete. However, despite the preceding attribution, the quotation is a complete sentence: “As someone once told me, ‘Successful companies have multiple founding moments.’”
2. The company released a support document addressing this issue and suggested that, “Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens should minimize or eliminate the effect.”
The original quotation, as a stand-alone statement, is a complete sentence and should therefore be capitalized. But when it is incorporated grammatically into a larger sentence, it loses its self-sufficiency, and moving is not capitalized (and the comma preceding it is an error): “The company released a support document addressing this issue and suggested that ‘moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens should minimize or eliminate the effect.’”
3. When you say there’s a special place in hell if you don’t support women, Smith says, “Is it only powerful women?”
In this case, the question “Is it only powerful women?” is being combined with a paraphrase to form a new, more extensive question, though the two clauses are separated by an attribution. But because “is it only powerful women?” has been demoted from a sentence to a clause, the first word of that word string is not capitalized: “When you say there’s a special place in hell if you don’t support women, Smith says, ‘is it only powerful women?’”
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