We all know that titles should be capitalized, but what words, exactly, do you capitalize in title case? Here are a few tips to get it right, according to The Chicago Manual of Style.
The General Rules
1. Capitalize the first word in the title and (if included) the subtitle.
2. Do not capitalize articles (the, a, and an) or the words to or as.
3. Do not capitalize the conjunctions for, and, nor, but, and or.
4. Do not capitalize prepositions (unless they are part of a verb phrase, such as “sign up”).
Note that many publishing house have a style guide that directly contradicts this rule in The Chicago Manual of Style, and they choose to not capitalize short prepositions like to, up to, in, for, by, and at, but still capitalize longer ones like before, since, above, beyond, and between. However, this is technically incorrect according to Chicago.
Chicago does concede that some prepositions may require more emphasis in certain titles, in which case capitalizing the preposition would be acceptable. But when in doubt, do not capitalize the preposition, regardless of length.
5. Do not capitalize parts of a proper name that wouldn’t normally be capitalized (such as de, da, or von).
6. Capitalize everything else.
Titles with Compound Words
When you have a compound word in a sentence, still follow the rules above for capitalizing the second word in the compound.
The Three-Year Case
A Good-Looking Proposal
Finding a State-of-the-Art Design
Exception: If the first word in the compound isn’t a word that can stand on its own (such as anti or semi), then the second word in the compound is not capitalized.
Example: Anti-government Troops Attacked
It's that easy!
Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions on how to capitalize in title case.
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