When to Capitalize Seasons

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Knowing when to capitalize seasons can be confusing. The seasons used in the English language have specific capitalization rules that depend on how they are used. Whether they are generic or proper nouns or used in titles dictate when they are capitalized. There are a few exceptions to the general rules as well.

Seasons as generic nouns/adjectives

When used generally, the seasons (summer, spring, fall or autumn and winter) are not capitalized because they are not proper nouns. When seasons are used generically, make sure to use them in all lower case. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: The temperature in Michigan drops considerably in the fall, and in the winter, the temperatures are sometimes below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Example 2: Last summer’s humidity levels were higher than normal.

Example 3: The best time to plant your garden is in the spring.

Seasons as proper nouns

When seasons are part of a proper noun, they are capitalized. Consider the following examples:

Example 4: The 2012 Summer Olympics are in London, England, and they include (among many others) the summer sports of diving, field hockey, basketball and gymnastics.

Example 5: Winter Semester 2011 was a tough semester for her because her winter schedule consisted of 20 credits.

In the above examples, the seasons are capitalized when they are part of a proper noun (2012 Summer Olympics, Winter Semester 2011), but they are in the lower case when they are generic adjectives in a noun phrase (summer sports, winter schedule).

Seasons in titles

Whenever a season is used as part of a title, it is capitalized following normal title capitalization rules. Consider the following titles:

  1. Fall Fashion: The Best Shoes of 2011
  2. How to Stay Warm This Winter
  3. 10 Tips to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat

Exceptions

There are two exceptions to the rules that govern when to capitalize seasons. The first is when a season starts a sentence. When this happens, normal sentence capitalization rules apply. The other exception is when a season is personified, as if often done in poetry for stylistic reasons. When a season is personified, it is given human qualities.