Q. Throughout a book I am editing, there are numerous references to rules and laws that the author defines, for example, the Law of Cause and Effect, the Rules of the Game. She also capitalizes other words that are normally lowercased: Light (as in “toward the Light”) and Habit (when referring to a behavior that keeps us from following the rules of the game). I realize that she is capitalizing to place an emphasis on these words and make them stand out, but I am not entirely comfortable with this. Do you have any suggestions?
A. Depending on your level of confidence, you can try to talk the author out of the caps. I recently addressed this problem in a manuscript with slashes through the caps on “Cultural Movement” and a cheerful note: “I’m going to be slashing away at these kinds of caps—only Plato still gets to cap Truth, Beauty, and Cultural Movements.” My note was intended to suggest that such capping is old-fashioned, and my author understood and agreed. Another comment I like to use (usually with regard to italics for emphasis, but it might also work for excessive capping) is “Your prose tends to provide emphasis naturally and absolutely does not need these crutches.”