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Title Capitalization in the English Language

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by Carsten Cumbrowski, June, 23 2007.

This article is based on a blog post of mine at from May 2007.


Titles of blog posts and web pages are very important. It important to make the title appealing and interesting at the same time, because it is usually the first thing people notice when people see your post or web page in the search results of search engines, feed readers (blogs) and news aggregators.

Interesting about titles in the English language is also the fact that they follow different capitalization rules for the words used in the title compared to the capitalization rules of regular content.

A simplified but wrong rule is to capitalize every single word in the title. It does look awkward in most cases, independent of the fact that it is just wrong to do it that way.

Using gut feeling is one way a lot of people do it, but following the specific rules that state which word needs to be capitalized and which word does not is probably a better way of doing it.

Most people probably heart about these rules and had them as subject at one point in time at school. The people who had it in school can consider this information a “refresher”, especially if it has been a while since you learned it.

The Rules

In titles of songs or albums and band names, blog posts or articles, the standard rule in the English language is to capitalize words that:

  1. Are the first or the last word in the title
  2. Are not conjunctions ("and", "but", "or", "nor"), adpositions ("to", "over"), articles ("an", "a", "the"), or the "to" in infinitives.


Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions which work together to coordinate two items. English examples include for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so, both ... and, either ... or, neither ... nor, and not (only) ... but (... also).

Subordinating conjunctions, also called subordinators, are conjunctions that introduce a dependent clause; English examples include after, although, if, unless, and because. Another way for remembering is the mnemonic "BISAWAWE": "because", "if", "so that", "after", "when", "although", "while", and "even though".


An adposition is an element that combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding context. "Adposition" is a general term that includes the more specific labels preposition, postposition, and circumposition, which indicate the position of the adposition with respect to its complement phrase. Adpositions are among the most frequently occurring words in languages that have them. Examples: of, to, in, for, on, with, as, by, at, from


The words: the, a and an


The infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to. Therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives.

There are always border line cases so I would not worry about it too much, but it helps with the decision if or if not a word in the title should be capitalized if your guts took time off right at the time when you are finalizing a great post or article for your blog or website.

English Words that are NOT Capitalized

Here is a virtually complete list of English words that are are NOT capitalized in titles.

Articles: a, an, the

Conjunctions: and, but, or, so, after, before, when, while, since, until, although, even if, because, both...and, either...or, neither...nor, not only...but also

Prepositions: aboard, about, above, absent, across, after, against, along, alongside, amid, amidst, among, amongst, around, as, aslant, astride, at, atop, barring, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, but, by, despite, down, during, except, failing, following, for, from, in, inside, into, like, merry, mid, minus, near, next, notwithstanding, of, off, on, onto, opposite, outside, over, past, plus, regarding, round, save, since, than, through, throughout, till, times, to, toward, towards, under, underneath, unlike, until, up, upon, via, with, within, without

Prepositions; Two words: according to, ahead of, as to, aside from, because of, close to, due to, far from, in to, inside of, instead of, near to, next to, on to, out of, outside of, owing to, prior to, subsequent to

Prepositions; Three words: as far as, as well as, by means of, in accordance with, in addition to, in front of, in place of, in spite of, on account of, on behalf of, on top of, with regard to, in case of

Prepositions; Archaic or infrequently used: anti, betwixt, circa, cum, in lieu of, per, qua, sans, unto, versus, vis-a-vis

Prepositions; Not fully grammaticalized: concerning, considering, regarding

Prepositions; Preposition-like modifiers of quantified noun phrases: apart from, but, except, plus, save

Prepositions; Postpositions: ago, apart, aside, away, hence, notwithstanding, on, through, withal

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©2006-2007 Carsten Cumbrowski
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