MisUsing Capital LETTERS

There are two main ways that SOAs misuse capital letters. The first is to use them for words that do not require them. The second is to use them inconsistently in the same document.

Capital letters should typically only be used in the following situations:

  • To start a sentence;
  • For a proper noun (for example, John Smith, Brisbane, Macquarie St);
  • For days of the week and months of the year;
  • For acronyms (for example, FPA, ASIC); and
  • For titles (for example, Statement of Advice).

Other than that, capital letters should generally not be used. See here for a more complete list of when to use and not use a capital.

This mistake might seem pedantic, but pedantic is a good term for at least some of your clients. Poor use of capital letters can really grate on these clients. An educated reader will wince at “I recommend you invest in a Managed Fund.” This is because the word “managed” does not start a sentence and is not a proper noun. It should not start with a capital letter.

The same word can be a proper noun in some circumstances. For example, the MLC Entrepreneur Managed Fund is a proper noun because it is the name of a particular fund. In this case, the words ‘managed’ and ‘fund’ are not generic. Instead they refer to a specific fund.

This is why the Bruce Springsteen song ‘The River’ had capital letters, but the lyric sheet contained the lines: ‘we’d go down to the river, and into the river we dived.’ When referring to the title of the album, The River required capitals. Within the song’s lyrics, the words the river were used generically. (Of course, had Springsteen sung that he and Mary went down to the Brisbane River he would have needed to use capitals throughout).

The Dover Group