Importance of Correct Capitalization and Punctuation | Writing

August 7, 2015 thetasctest

Language makes it possible for us to communicate effectively with one another. In a recent TASC test Writing post, we discussed how to navigate proper grammar with commas, proper nouns, pronouns and more. It is imperative that you also use correct capitalization and punctuation. Improve your writing for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Writing subtest by following these capitalization and punctuation writing tips:


Capital letters help us understand what we read and others understand what we have written. Consider the following capitalization rules to clarify meaning in your writing:

  • Capitalize the first letter of every sentence.
    • Here is a present from my brother.
  • Capitalize every person's name.
    • When we arrived home, Sam and Alex were standing by my mom.
  • Capitalize the days of the week.    
    • I have a meeting on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • Capitalize the months of the year. 
    • My birthday is in November.
  • Capitalize holidays. 
    • My favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas.   
  • Capitalize proper nouns (specific places and organizations).
    • I am going to see the Eiffel Tower while in Paris.
    • She is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
  • Capitalize the pronoun ‘I’.
    • The last time I was at the beach was five years ago.

Make sure to understand the following rules with exceptions:

  • Capitalize family relationships when used as proper names.
    • I sent a thank-you note to Aunt Erin, but not my other aunts.
  • Capitalize directions that are names.
    • My house is three miles north of Seattle.
    • My family moved to the Northeast.
  • Capitalize the first word in a direct quote.
    • Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”


Punctuation helps us change the tone of our writing to show emphasis, indicate a pause, or signal the end of a sentence. An understanding of the following punctuation marks will help improve your writing for the TASC test:

  • Period and question mark
    • A simple question mark or period may not seem like a big deal. But to everyone who will read your writing, they are imperative. Periods signal to the reader when a sentence – a complete thought or statement – is over. Similarly, when a question mark is missing from the end of a question, readers can become confused. To help your writing remain clear and understood, place periods and question marks where they belong. 
  • Exclamation point
    • Writing becomes exciting when emotion is expressed. Exclamation points are used to indicate strong feelings or enthusiasm or characters are speaking in high volume (shouting). It is important to note that the exclamation point should be used sparingly. Often, your word choice alone indicates the level of enthusiasm you need. Overusing the exclamation point, or placing it where it doesn’t really belong, can actually take away from the emphasis.
  • Apostrophe
    • Apostrophes are used in three different ways:
      • To show omission of letters. Example: I am à I’m.
      • To form possessives of nouns. Example: That is Cara’s bike.
      • To indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters. Example: My mother always said to mind my p's and q's.

If you tend to leave out apostrophes, check every word that ends in -s or -es to see if it needs an apostrophe.

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