What weighty words, these two! With definitions concerning money, government, and matters of life and death, capital and capitol are two words everyone should strive to use correctly.
Thankfully, only one of these words has multiple definitions.
According to Encarta’s online dictionary, capitol has one definition, and one alone: “A building or group of buildings in which a state legislature meets and where other state government offices may be housed.”
Capital covers everything else—capital cities, capital letters, financial capital, capital punishment…and the list goes on. Unless you are writing about the White House (or another government building), capital should probably be your pick. Stick with the al ending when discussing capitalism, or describing something as capitalistic, too.
Remember, where capitol and capital are concerned, capital is almost always correct. When in doubt, consult your favorite dictionary, but if you’re the wagering kind, capital is your safest bet.