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What is title case?

Updated: 11/11/2022
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13y ago

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Title case is a stylized form of capitalization used mainly for titles. Many publishers have abandoned using title case because many schools no longer teach these basics and because you need to know what the parts of speech are and how the words are being used in your title.

There is also some leeway in the rule applying to when and if conjunctions and prepositions are capitalized. The publisher must decide on the 'house' style and use it exclusively.

The standard rules of title case are:

1. The first and last words are always capitalized.

2. Word that are not articles, conjunctions or prepositions are always capitalized.

3. Articles are never capitalized unless it violates the first rule.

The fourth rule is the only one that has options, but the publisher must decide on which option they will permanently use.

4. a. Conjunctions or prepositions are never capitalized unless it violates the first rule.

4. b. Conjunctions or prepositions of less than four letters are never capitalized unless it violates the first rule.

4. c. Conjunctions or prepositions of less than five letters are never capitalized unless it violates the first rule.

Normally the third option of the fourth rule is the one used.

Under these rules the words that are always lower case unless it violates the first rule are:

a

amid

an

and

ere

for

from

into

lest

per

re

than

the

thru [this only replaces the prepositional form of 'through']

unto

v. [see: vs.] [as an abbreviation for version in file names, it is always lower case as it is not really part of the title]

viâ [this only replaces the prepositional form of 'via']

vs. [but not 'versus'][since abbreviations in titles are to be avoided 'v' and 'vs.' should not be used except for titles of legal cases.]

with

There are other conjunctions and prepositions which may be used as other parts of speech. Also some conjunctions and prepositions are spelled the same as other words which are not conjunctions or prepositions. In this case you must know enough about grammar to decide whether a word should be capitalized or not. Either that, or use a dictionary.

There is also the possibility of another rule governing this, but that is why I came here.

Look for: What is the title case rule for conjunctions and prepositions that may be used as other parts of speech?

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