Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to Properly Capitalize Titles by Amy Cowen

When writing any kind of document, it can be difficult to know how to properly capitalize the title. There are many styles of title capitalization that each depend upon the type of writing being titled. Add to this the fact that the publication could be written in Associated Press style, Chicago style, or MLA style; it gets very confusing as each style has its own titling rules. The first step is to look at what type of written work you are creating.

Title Case

If your publication is an article or web content, it will often be titled differently than a book. The standard rule of thumb for titling this type of content is to use what is known as title case. Simply put, this means you will capitalize the first word of the title, the last word of the title, and all important words in between. The Wizard of Oz is a good example of a title that uses title case.

In addition to this rule, there is a standard regarding which words are important and which are not. You should always capitalize any nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, and adverbs that are in your title. Conversely, you should not capitalize the articles and conjunctions in your title.

Sentence Case

With this being said, some essay writers actually prefer to use sentence case when titling their articles. Sentence case titles require that the first letter of the first word be capitalized, and then only proper nouns. In this scenario, a title would be capitalized thus, “My trip to Rome”. Generally, this is really a matter of personal preference for the author. For more information about correctly titling an article, visit for a thorough explanation of capitalization rules.

Figuring out which words to capitalize in the title of a book is much easier. When titling a book, such as Memoirs of a Geisha, the rules are quite simple. In book titles, the first and last words are always capitalized. Secondly, all nouns, verbs, and adjectives within the title are capitalized as well. The only words that do not get capitalized in book titles are articles, conjunctions, and prepositions. However, there is an exception to this rule. If the title of the book begins with an article (a, an, or the), a conjunction (such as and, for, or so), or a preposition (like down or below), that word is always capitalized. WikiHow will give you a more in-depth look at the process of titling a book.

MLA Style

The most commonly used style of writing (unless you are a journalist by trade) is MLA style. This style is what is expected of not only students, but also many different businesses. The MLA style guide has incredibly strict rules in regards to titling. Similar to book titling, you should always capitalize the first and last words of a title. Also, you should always capitalize adjectives, verbs, nouns, adverbs, pronouns, and subordinating conjunctions. You shouldn’t capitalize any articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, or “to” infinitives unless they are the first or last word of the title. Two examples that meet this criteria are “How to Play Football” and “Down and Out”.

The MLA style guide also contains strict rules for the use of capitalization in regards to hyphenated words and the use of colons. If using a colon or a hyphenated phrase, the word immediately following the punctuation should always be capitalized. For example, “America the Beautiful: Why Americans Strive for Beauty”. To learn more about the many rules when using the MLA style guide, look at Armed with this information, you should always be able to title your document correctly.

Amy Cowen writes about all things related to education and student life, but her main passion is technology and different tools. You can find her providing assignment help at Aussiewriter or giving career advice to students.