ALLIES AND ACCESSORIES
A capital, elliptical for a capital letter, derives from Latin capitalis, of, at, for, with the head, itself from the stem capit-of caput (genitive capitis), the head. A capital or upper-case letter is distinguished from a small or lower-case letter of either a style of writing or a font of type by having greater height and usually a different form. (Small capitals have the form of capitals but the height of small letters.) The verb is 'to capitalize' or 'to capital'.
'Closely bound up with punctuation is the use of capital letters. Here again we are in a somewhat vague, indeterminate world.' Outside 'fairly well-defined limits, the writer has to walk warily in a kind of no-man's-land'. In short, 'the good writer will observe the main conventions; but beyond these he has the privilege and responsibility of deciding between…capitals and small letters. His use of capitals, like his punctuation generally, should exactly correspond with his meaning.' (G.H.VALLINS, Good English: How to Write It.)
Apart from the use of a capital for the first letter of the first word in a sentence, the most important group of capitalled words consists of Proper Names. Other important groups are the Punctuational, the Rhetorical, the Abbreviational, and Trade Names.
To classify the various words and word-groups requiring a capital is surprisingly difficult. By far the most comprehensive classification I have seen is that which was established in the 1934 recension of Webster's New International Dictionary, yet to even that classification I find that four or five additions-one of them, important-have to be made. Without benefit of Webster I should, however, have probably overlooked one or two of the sub-classes in the following survey, arranged functionally rather than, as Webster's, itemizingly. In this
* Capitals in relation to titles of books and articles will be dealt with in Chapter 19.