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Capitalization of a Title

Capitalization of a title can be trickier than you might originally think, because the rules can change a bit depending on what style guide you’re using. The big three style guides are the Associated Press, often called AP for short, Chicago Manual of Style, and MLA. You might be required to use a specific style in a certain setting or institution, so if you’re writing something important (say like a college thesis) always be sure to check.

The good news is that all three styles agree on some basics, which we’ll cover here in three easy rules.

Rule 1: In any title, such as the title of a book, song, or movie, the first and last word are always capitalized. So in the movie title “Night at the Museum” both “Night” and “Museum” are capitalized.

Rule 2: In each style you should capitalize nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs.

So for the movie “I Walk the Line” you’d capitalize “Walk” because it’s a verb, and in the movie “Drive, He Said,” you’d capitalize “He” because it’s a pronoun. Similarly, in the children’s book “The Grouchy Ladybug” you’d capitalize “Grouchy” because it’s an adjective.

Rule 3 : For all three styles, you DON’T capitalize articles, prepositions of less than five letters, or coordinating conjunctions of less than five letters unless they are the first word in the title.

Some examples would be the movie title “Good Night, and Good Luck” where the conjunction “and” is left lowercase, and the song title “Angel of the Morning,” where “of” is the lowercase preposition and “the” is the lowercase article. However, in the movie title “An Affair to Remember” the word “An” is capitalized because it is the first word of the title.

If you follow these rules you’ll be in pretty good shape, but remember to always double check if there are specific style guide requirements for your assignment. Happy writing!

Rules of Capitalization of a Title

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