No More Capital Confusion

At least once a day, a stranger approaches me in the street and says, “You look like an English major! Can you help me capitalize this title, headline, or section heading!”

I’m exaggerating, of course, but this question comes up a lot. And the answer is rarely as difficult as you think.

First, find out if your organization has its own style guide. If it does, it will probably include directions for capitalizing titles. I’ve seen some company style guides that capitalize every word in a title, and others that say to use the same capitalization rules as an ordinary sentence.

If there’s no proprietary style guide, it’s very likely your organization adheres to the Associated Press Stylebook, the MLA Handbook, the Chicago Manual of Style, or another major style guide. Once you know which one to use, just go to Capitalize My Title, plug in the text, and presto!

Here are the rules I use when there’s no style guide to follow:

Don’t Capitalize These Words (Unless They’re the First or Last Words of the Title):

  • Any preposition that’s less than four letters long, such as to and by
  • Any article that’s less than four letters long, such as a, me, my, you, our, it, or its
  • Any conjunction, such as and, but, and or

Capitalize Everything Else, Including:

  • Every pronoun, such as me, my, you, our, it, or its
  • Every verb — even short ones such as is and am

Happy capitalizing!