Title Case: How to Capitalize Words in Titles
Rules for Capitalizing Titles
If you're confused about which words in a heading to capitalize, here's a handy guide.
The most widespread rule is to capitalize all words except articles, prepositions and conjunctions.
Articles are "a," "an" and "the." Prepositions are words that begin prepositional phrases (eg, "on the mat"), such as "on," "in," "out," "to," "from," "for," "of" and "with." Conjunctions link words, sentences, phrases or clauses together, such as "and," "or" and "but."
A common mistake is to assume that all "short" (hazily defined) words are to be in lowercase, which leads to words such as "is" and "it" being lower case. This is not the generally accepted style. In title case, all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives are capitalized.
So, according to these rules, "the cat sat on the mat" in title case would be "The Cat Sat on the Mat."
A final rule is that the last word in a title is always capitalized. So in the film title "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," for instance, "Off" is capitalized, despite being a preposition.
As with all language rules, there are variations. In journalism and writing, different publishers have different standards, which they try to keep consistent across all publications ("house style"). Some newspapers, for example, prefer to write headlines in sentence case, ie, with only the first word and proper nouns capitalized. Becoming more frequent is the practice of putting every word in a title in capitals. This is most common on commercial websites.
The tradition remains the standard, however: In a title, capitalize all words except articles, prepositions and conjunctions.
More by this Author
When you apply for a job or school, a cover letter gives you the chance to introduce yourself personally. It contains a greeting, details of how you found out about the post, a summary of your skills or qualifications,...
A copywriter holds the copyright on her work. Confusing? This author was once confused, too, until he learned the difference between copywriting and copyright. Copyright is the ownership a person has of a creative work...
"Bah, humbug!" You've all read Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol or seen Ebenezer Scrooge in one of his film incarnations, such as that of British character actor Alastair Sim in the definitive 1951 movie...