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Capitalizing Titles

How do you capitalize titles?
Uppercase, lowercase?

The answer is a mix of the two.  You always capitalize the first and last word of the title. And you use lowercase articles and prepositions.

Below are some examples. The number in parenthesis indicates the rule it follows.

  • Mnemonics That Work Are (1)
  • Better Than Rules That Do Not (1)
  • Singing While You Work (1)
  • A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing (2)
  • Taking Down Names, Spelling Them Out, and Typing Them Up (3, 4)
  • Tired but Happy (4)

8.155 Capitalization of titles of worksgeneral principles

     Titles mentioned or cited in text or notes are usually capitalized headline-style.

8.157 Principles of headline-style capitalization

The conventions of headline style are governed mainly by emphasis and grammar. The following rules, though occasionally arbitrary, are intended primarily to facilitate the consistent styling of titles mentioned or cited in text and notes:

  1. Capitalize the first and last words in titles and subtitles (but see rule 7), and capitalize all other major words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctionsbut see rule 4).

  2. Lowercase the articles thea, and an.

  3. Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are used adverbially or adjectivally (up in Look Updown in Turn Downon in The On Buttonto in Come To, etc.) or when they compose part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (De FactoIn Vitro, etc.).

  4. Lowercase the conjunctions andbutforor, and nor(CMOS)

All answers are based on the Chicago Manual of Style Online (CMOS 17) and the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

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