Small Capitals

Small capitals are just what they sound like: they look like this. They have only one common use: certain abbreviations are commonly written in small capitals. In particular, the abbreviations bc and ad are usually so written:

Alexander the Great died in 323 bc.
Charlemagne was crowned in Rome on Christmas Day, ad 800.

Recall too that American usage prefers to write the time of day with small capitals:

(A) The earthquake struck at 6:40 am.

A few publishers have recently adopted the practice of putting all abbreviations in small capitals, but this is not something you should imitate.

Many word processors can produce small capitals; if you can't produce them, use full capitals instead:

Alexander the Great died in 323 BC.

Very occasionally, small capitals are used for emphasis, but it is usually preferable to use italics for this, or even boldface.

Copyright © Larry Trask, 1997

Maintained by the Department of Informatics, University of Sussex