Title case refers to a format used in English when writing titles, headlines, subheadings, etc. It is used both online and in print, and it is used across a wide range of media from academic papers to romance novels, from work resumes to magazine articles in print or virtual editions.
One of the key characteristics of title case is that, unlike in sentences, many words will be capitalized. In an English sentence, only the first word of a sentence is generally capitalized. Unless there are proper nouns in the sentence, all other words will begin with a lower case letter. Only the initial word of the sentence will begin with a capital letter. In title case, all the important words will start with a capital.
Important Words are Capitalized in Title Case
When composing a headline for your blog post or article, you will likely want to format it in title case. That means that you should capitalize the first word. After the first word, all important words in your title should also begin with a capital letter. So what words count as important? Well, most times it’s actually easier to list the kinds of words that aren’t important!
Words that generally don’t get capitalized in title case include:
- Articles: a, an, the
- Conjunctions: and, or, but, etc.
- Prepositions: on, in, with, of, etc.
Only capitalize such words in title case if they are the initial word of the title or heading. For example, in “The Life and Times of the Rich and Famous,” the word “the” appears twice. It is written with a capital letter at the beginning of the title, but thereafter it is not capitalized. The conjunction “and” and the preposition “of” are similarly not written with capital letters, because they are not important words.
Using Title Case to Help your Content Get Noticed
Title case sets your headlines and subheadings off from the rest of the text, and helps to get them noticed. You will probably be formatting all titles, headings and subheadings with larger print or a boldface font, but the capital letters also draw the eye to a title and help to communicate its importance in the text. When native English speakers learn to read, they become used to seeing titles and headings written according to the conventions of title case – in other words, with important words capitalized and, in general, without punctuation marks.
When you publish a blog post or an article, you should use title case formatting for all titles, headings, and subheadings unless the house style asks for you to do otherwise. Capitalize all the important words, and write the title a little more as a label rather than as a sentence. You may need a colon or a question mark in your title, but in general titles do not need punctuation.
Again, the point is to set titles and subheadings aside from the sentences in your text and to draw the reader’s attention to them. Titles serve a different purpose than sentences. They are used to organize information and to break it up into chunks the reader can more easily digest.
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Original content © 2015, 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne. First published at Seraphic Insights. Featured image by Unsplash/Pixabay/CC0.
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