Celebrate the New Year in (MLA) StyleBy Jennifer Rappaport
Should you write, “Happy New Year,” “Happy new year,” or “Happy New Year’s”?
It depends on how much happiness you want to impart. If you want to wish someone happiness for all of 2017, write, “Happy New Year,” following the entry for “New Year” in Webster’s. But if you’re feeling especially parsimonious about the year ahead and want to wish someone happiness for only the first day of it, you would write, “Happy New Year’s Day,” or “Happy New Year’s” for short, since the name of the holiday in Webster’s is “New Year’s Day.”
The entry in Webster’s does not give us license to abandon commonsense rules about capitalization. When using new year generically and preceding it with an article, lowercase the term: It’s a new year. The audit will begin in the new year.
In future posts, we will tackle the styling of other holidays.
In the meantime, Happy New Year!
“New Year.” Merriam-Webster.com, unabridged.merriam-webster.com/collegiate/New%20Year.
“New Year’s Day.” Merriam-Webster.com, unabridged.merriam-webster.com/collegiate/new%20year’s%20day.
Jennifer Rappaport is an associate editor at the Modern Language Association. She received a BA in English and French from Vassar College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University, where she taught expository writing. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as an editor at a university press and as a freelance copyeditor and translator for commercial and academic publishers.
Published 10 January 2017