Capitalization in Titles

by Craig Shrives

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Capital Letters and Lowercase Letters in Titles (Title Case)

Capitalization in titles follows the title case convention. Title case involves using capital letters for only the first word, the last word, and the "principal" words. For example:
  • The Last of the Mohicans correct tick
  • (Notice that the first "The" is capitalized. Thereafter, "of" and "the" are not capitalized. These are not principal words.)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves correct tick
  • (Notice that "and" and "the" are not capitalized. These are not principal words.)
The Principal Words. The principal words are all words that are not one of the following: These types of words do not get capital letters unless they start or end the title.

More about Title Case

This infographic explains title case:
capital letters in titles
(When writing a title in a business document, capitalize only the first word, the last word, and the so-called "principal" words. This is called title case. Use lowercase letters for articles, conjunctions, and prepositions unless they start or end the title.)

More Examples of Title Case

Here are some more examples of titles in title case:
  • Have you seen "About a Boy"? correct tick
  • (The preposition "about" is given a capital letter because it starts the title.)
  • I liked "What Is It All About?" more than you. correct tick
  • (Here, "about" is given a capital letter because it ends the title. It is rare for a non-principal word to end a title.)
Even though title case looks neat, not everybody uses it. Many businesses use capital letters for all the words in their titles. You should copy the official versions if you know them.

Clear Guidelines to Make Your Life Easier

Understanding title case removes the need to think about formatting titles. Some words are short and look awkward when you give them a capital letter. However, if you stick to the rules, you will have clear guidance on whether to use a capital or not.
  • I read "How to be Black" in a day. wrong cross
  • I read "How to Be Black" in a day. correct tick
  • (Despite being short, "Be" is a principal word.)
Read more about title case. Read about using capital letters (including title case) in advertising.

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See Also

How to write "dos and don'ts" Capital letters and the points of the compass Using capital letters with proper and common nouns Capital letters with the four seasons Capital letters start sentences Test on using capital letters

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