Capital and Lowercase Letters in Titles (Title Case)

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
Titles can be written in title case. This means only using capital letters for only the first word, the last word, and the "principal" words. For example:
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
NB: The principal words are all words that are not articles (i.e., "an," "a," "the"), conjunctions (e.g., "and," "or," "but"), and prepositions (e.g., "in," "with," "of"). These types of words do not get capital letters unless they start or end the title.

Using Capital Letters and Lowercase Letters in Titles (Title Case)

When writing a name or a title, it is a common convention to capitalize only the first word, the last word, and the so-called "principal" words. This is called title case.

The "principal" words in a title are all the words that are not: In title case, articles, conjunctions, and prepositions are written with a lowercase letter unless they start or end the title.

capital letters in titles

Examples of Title Case

Here are some examples of titles in title case:
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  • (In this example, the conjunction "and" and the article "the" are written with lowercase letters.)
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • (Here, the preposition "upon" is written with a lowercase letter.)
  • Brighton on Sea
  • (The preposition "on" is written with a lowercase letter.)
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • (The preposition "of" and the article "the" are written with lowercase letters. The article "The" starting the title is given a capital letter.) (The preposition "about" is given a capital letter because it starts the title.)
  • Have you seen "About a Boy"?
  • What Is It All About?
  • (Here, "about" is given a capital letter because it ends the title. It is rare for a non-principal word to end a title.)
Although 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 the rules, you will have clear guidance on whether to use a capital or not.
  • I read "How to be Black" in a day.
  • I read "How to Be Black" in a day.
  • (Despite being short, "Be" is a principal word.)
Read more about title case.
Read about using capital letters (including title case) in advertising.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Capital letters in advertisements 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