Headings, chapter titles, book titles, movie titles……these titles all require proper capitalization. Which words are capitalized in a title, anyway? Or, which words are not?
Here are some rules to help you:
1. The first and last words of a title are always capitalized, no matter what they are.
2. The articles a, and, and the are not capitalized unless they are the first or last words of a title.
3. The conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so are not capitalized unless they are the first or last words of a title. However, sometimes for, yet, and so can be other parts of speech. For can also be a preposition, but you don’t have to worry about that because little prepositions are not capitalized either! However, yet and so can also be adverbs, and adverbs are capitalized in a title. Here are some examples of yet and so:
I am so tired. (So is an adverb.)
I am tired, so I will take a nap. (So is a conjunction here; it is connecting two clauses.)
Are we there yet? (Yet is an adverb here.)
I am tired, yet I can’t sleep. (Yet is a conjunction here, a connecting word.)
You probably won’t have to worry about yet and so too much in titles. My guess is usually they will be adverbs in a title, unless your title is really long. So capitalize them.
4. Small prepositions of four or fewer letters (with four letters you have a choice of whether or not to capitalize) are not capitalized.
Common short prepositions: to, for, by, in, out, up, down, at, with, past, over.
Common longer prepositions (capitalize these): above, below, beyond, between, among, along, beneath, under.
NOTE: Although in is a preposition, if and it and is are NOT! These words need to be capitalized! If is a conjunction, it is a pronoun, and is is a verb.
Here are some titles that are capitalized correctly:
Tender Is the Night
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Joy to the World
Somewhere over the Rainbow (or Over)
Woe Is I
The Best Little Grammar Book Ever!
Correct Me If I’m Wrong
Algebra Is Tough, yet Fun!
I that last title, yet is used as a conjunction, or connecting word, so it isn’t capitalized. It looks kind of funny to me. If all words except one in a longish title are capitalized, and it looks odd to you, you can capitalize all the words. In a title, ’tis better to capitalize a word when in doubt, than not capitalize one that should be capitalized.
Special Note: Is, Are, Was, Were, Be: These words are all verbs and thus very important and always capitalized in a title. If you don’t capitalize these, the grammar police will be out looking for you!
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