Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Writing Titles (Capital Letters with Title Case)

Writing Titles (Capital Letters with Title Case)

Titles are most often written in uppercase or title case. Title case is a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.

In title case, only the principal words are given capital letters. Prepositions (e.g.,in, on, under, at) and articles (i.e., the, a, an), and conjunctions (e.g., and, or, but) are written with lowercase letters (unless they start the title).

Common Title Conventions

The two common conventions for titles are:

Uppercase Titles

For example:
  • INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE
  • THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  • BANK HOLIDAYS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
With uppercase titles, all words are capitalized. Often, they are bolded and underlined. Whatever style you use, be consistent.

Title Case Titles
  • Interview with a Vampire
  • The Last of the Mohicans
  • Bank Holidays and National Holidays
With title-case titles, only the principal words are capitalized. Prepositions (here, with, of), articles (here, a, the) and conjunctions (here, and) are written with lowercase letters. These can be bolded and underlined too. Whatever style you use, be consistent.

When one of the non-principal words (i.e., a preposition, an article, or a conjunction) starts the title, it is given a capital letter. For example:
  • And Then Came Love
  • (The conjunction And has been given a capital letter because it starts the title.)
  • The Last of the Summer Wine
  • (The article The has been given a capital letter because it starts the title.)
  • In the Name of the Father
  • (The preposition In has been given a capital letter because it starts the title.)

Titles As Adjectives

A title in title case can be used as a compound adjective. For example:
  • Did you get the Interview with a Vampire tickets?
Interactive example:

I love your Thomas the Tank Engine bag. [show me the title case adjective]

Read more about compound adjectives.
Read more about alternatives to hyphens in compound adjectives.
Note

You Can Use an Apostrophe in a Pluralised Abbreviation in an Uppercase Title

When a pluralized abbreviation features in an uppercase title, it is acceptable to use an apostrophe to show the plural. Be aware, however, that this might annoy some of your readers. For example:
  • MULTIPLE CD'S
  • (acceptable but potentially annoying)
  • MULTIPLE CDs
  • (largely acceptable and less annoying)
Read more about apostrophes in awkward plurals

Do Not Use the Word the Twice When a Title is Used as an Adjective

When the word The is the first word of a title used as an adjective, logical thinkers might feel the need to use the word the twice. For example:
  • The award was won by the The Last of the Mohicans director, Michael Mann.
The version above is logically sound, but it's messy. Have the confidence to break logic and write:
  • The award was won by the Last of the Mohicans director, Michael Mann.
  • (For the sake of aesthetics (not logic), use the word the once and make it lowercase, unless it starts the sentence.)