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How do you capitalize a proper noun such as “iPhone”?
Capitalization of names that begin lowercased, at the beginning of a sentence

I have a product that is called xYZ. If I use this name at the beginning of a sentence, should I use upper or lower case letters?

An example of such a sentence would be:

xYZ can be used to ...


XYZ can be used to ...

I tend to use the first one, since it is a name, but I'm not sure.


2 Answers 2


The careful writer studiously avoids any situation that would violate the standard rules of English orthographic convention in this regard. That entails resorting at need to reärrangement or even the circumlocutionary introduction of a tractable word to begin the sentence.

This regularly arises in technical writing when discussing case-sensitive literal variable and function names. So instead of writing:

This is the previous sentence. fork makes a copy of the current process.

And violating the rule of capitalization, one writes:

This is the previous sentence. The fork function makes a copy of the current process.

This not only looks a lot better, it will never be received with confusion or scorn by anyone — as in fact the first version often enough is.

Similarly, do not write this:

This is the previous sentence. iTunes costs too much.

When this works better:

This is the previous sentence. The iTunes program costs too much.

Yes, it’s fussy, but no one will look down at you for doing it that way. The other way, some will.

  • 1
    You make a good point about recasting the sentence to avoid scorn for starting out with a minuscule instead of a majuscule. Thank goodness for me that the biomedical world doesn't wholeheartedly agree with that dictum (eg, "p38α phosphorylates serine 258...". mRNA, as nico pointed out (see J.R.'s comment above) just isn't ever written as MRNA, & Wikipedia starts sentences with proper names like "eBay". In biomed-speak, change the case & you might just change the meaning.
    – user21497
    Dec 3, 2012 at 16:19
  • Is this also a problem for physical quantities like mV (millivolt) versus MV (megavolt)?
    – Mr Lister
    Dec 3, 2012 at 17:47
  • @MrLister Yes, certainly. The idea is simply that if it is something whose case you cannot change, then you must not put it first in a sentence. There are many workarounds, but not starting the sentence with a capital letter is not one of them.
    – tchrist
    Dec 3, 2012 at 18:01

Use the first one (xYZ) if it's the proper name of the product. Analogy: iPod, iPad, iOS.

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