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Capitalization Rules

In English Grammar, Capitalization plays a very significant role. Most of the things we capitalize in English are what we call proper nouns. They are the names of specific, unique things. When the initial letter of a word is capitalized and the rest of the letters are in lower case, we call it Capitalization.

For Example:
  • David’s ball fell in the dustbin. 
  • A Shakespearean sonnet or the Grand Canyon
  • I visited Seychelles on my vacation.
Here the first letter of the word has been capitalized. When we read articles, we often find that some letters are capitalized and some are not. Although capitalization rules varies from one publication to the other, there are some general rules that is mostly followed everywhere.  We have to remember these general rules in order to learn Capitalization Rules of Titles.

According to a particular style of writing, the title for capitalization rules may change or vary, like AP style or MLA style. They follow their own rules of capitalizing titles. So while choosing a style we have to keep in mind the purpose. AP style is mostly used in Journalism while MLA style is used in Humanities.  Although these exceptions should be taken care of, but there is a general rule of Capitalization of Titles.  The thumb rule is that the first, last or any important word in a title should be capitalized.  Also we should capitalize all proper nouns in the title. Capitalizing the first, last and any other important word is known as Headline Style. 

The following parts of speech are capitalized in titles:
  1. Nouns ( Woman, station, train)
  2. Adjective (Beautiful, long, ugly)
  3. Verbs ( eat, like, dance)
  4. Adverbs ( patiently, slowly, efficiently)
  5. Pronouns (He, She, You)
Another important thing that we should keep in mind is words which contain less than five letters are generally written in small letters or lowercase in English.  Unless they are the first or the last letter in the title, they can be written in lower case. These words are called short words. 

The following words are generally not capitalized in titles:
  1. Coordinating Conjunctions like and, or, for, but
  2. Articles a, an, the
  3. On, to, from – The prepositions which are less than five letters.

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Methods of Capitalization Rules

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Few methods of Title Capitalization rules are stated below:
One of the methods is down style or Sentence case. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association has recommended this style. In this style, the title is written as if it is a Sentence only. In this style, we only capitalize the first letter and all proper nouns. 

For Example:
  1. Best travelling blogs
  2. How to learn Grammar
  3. Grammar rules
  4. Top 5 cuisines of India

In the next method, all the first letters of the all the words in the title is capitalized. This method is considered to be very simple as there is no need to remember which word to capitalize and which one to write in small letters but this method is known as lazy man’s method. 

For Example:
  1. Best Travelling Blogs 
  2. How To Learn English Grammar ( We capitalize all words)
The next method is up style or Title Case. Depending on what part of speech is the word, we decide whether the words should be capitalized or not. There are some basic rules that are following while using this rule:
  1. No matter what the part of speech is, we capitalize the first and last word of the title.
  2. Verbs, subordinating conjunctions, nouns, adverbs are capitalized if they are in the title.
  3. ‘To’ is an infinitive. We should lowercase ‘to’ in the title
  4. All articles, prepositions are written in lower case or small letter.

For Example:
  1. How to Learn English Grammar
  2. How to learn Spellings in English

Capitalization Rules in Titles
There are some more methods for capitalization rules in titles.
  • The compound words which are hyphenated are written in capitals.
           For Example: Best-Quality Internet Services

  • When we put a colon, the first word that comes after a colon is always capitalized.
           For Example: Tourism: Best Guide in Travel and Tours.

As mentioned earlier, depending on the length of the word we decide whether to capitalize the word or not. We often do not capitalize the shorter words (two or three letters) and capitalized the longer ones. But it should be kept in mind that nouns, verbs, adjectives can also be small words but they should always be capitalized. While determining the capitalization rules in titles, part of speech are always more important than the length of words. 

Quotation Capitalization Rules

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In order to set off the exact or direct words, we use quotation marks. They are used in order to set off somebody’s exact words, phrases, or certain parts in titles. When we quote, the first word after the quotation mark is always capitalized. We will quote the first word when the quoted part is a complete sentence. Also when the quotation is not a complete sentence or is a part of a bigger sentence, we do not capitalize the quotation.

For Example:
  1. Daniel said, “I will not go to school tomorrow.”
  2. Mr. Evan, who was going to the mall, said, “The market is closed today.”
  3. Ashley exclaimed “The weather is extremely beautiful.”
  4. William asked, “Why were you absent yesterday?”

Capitalization Rules

  • In case of a direct quotation, if it is interrupted in the mid of the sentence, we do not capitalize the second part of the sentence.
          For Example:
          “I did not go to school today,” Joshua said, “I was down with fever.”
  • When a quotation material is just a part of a sentence, we should not capitalize the first word of the quotation.
          For Example:
          Jayden asked me whether I’ll be “heading towards the city.”
  • After an explanatory interruption, we should use a period after the interruption. Then we should start the quotation mark with a new sentence again. The first word of the new sentence should be capitalized.
          We can set off magazine titles, song names, titles of books with the help of quotation marks.
          For Example:
          I heard “The Beatles” song yesterday.
          Have you read Nicholas Spark’s book called “Message in a Bottle?”

Capitalize. . .
  • The first word of a sentence
  • Proper nouns , The single-letter word, first person pronoun ‘I.’
  • The first word of a sentence following a colon
  • The first word in each line of most poetry
  • Salutations and closings in letters
  • Names of God, specific deities, religious figures, and holy books
  • Countries, nationalities, Monuments, Universities and specific languages
  • Periods and events names of the planets, bridges, tunnels
  • Trademarks and Titles
  • Initials, initialisms, and acronyms like Jackson M. Carter, FBI, DVD, AIDS, NASDAQ
  • The first word in a sentence that is a direct quote, even if the direct quote comes in the middle of a sentence
  • Directions such as North, South, East, and West/ Days of the week, months of the year, and holidays/ Seasons, when used in a title
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