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Blog / Article Title Capitalization in the English Language

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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.

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

A simplified but erroneous 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 their gut feeling is one approach many people use, but following specific rules that indicate which word(s) needs to be capitalized and which word(s) do not is probably a better way of doing it.

Most people probably have heard of these rules and perhaps had them as a 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.

Conjunctions

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".

Adposition

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

Articles

The words: the, a and an

Infinitives

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.

Conclusion

There are always borderline cases, so don't worry about it too much, but using these rules should help with the decision if or if not a word in the title should be capitalized, especially if your gut instinct took time off right at the time when you are finalizing a great post or article for your blog or website.
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Comment
Author:Cumbrowski
3 Comments

Expert Comment

by:aprashar
I enjoyed your article.  It would help me understand the two rules better if several examples of common mistakes and their corrected versions were included.

Sincerely,
Ajay
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Expert Comment

by:WaterStreet
Cumbrowski,

This is well worded and well put together like your other Articles that I reviewed.

I would definitely want to take advantage of these kinds of rules, and even suggest they be used as standards for these Articles.  However, when I go to the Internet, I want authoritative sources for my information that I can rely on.

Your rules sound good to me, but if I found this article on the web (and even now), I would look elsewhere for the rules, because I don't how authoritative Cumbrowski is.  Further, one can't tell if this is just your opinion, or if it really represents the generally accepted standards.

If you are summarizing, or providing a value-added collection of what you have found from generally recognized or authoritative sources, that's perfectly acceptable IMO, but then give the main referenced web sites/sources as a bibliography with their names and links.   IMO, clearly showing whether the article is either an opinion or generally accepted is necessary here in going from a published article to an Approved Article.
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LVL 5

Author Comment

by:Cumbrowski
Hi WaterStreet,

I wrote this article over a year ago. I do remember that I wanted to find out for myself what the rules are, because I was blogging more and more and were often unsure about the capitalization of the blog post titles I used my guts, but one day I had enough of using guts and wanted to find out for sure.

I started off with Google and found multiple Wikipedia enties that were pretty good. I started of with those and checked the sources used for the Wikipedia entires. That was a lot of information and more than I needed, so I shrunk it down to the essential stuff to make it easy to use and remember.

I did all this for myself without the intend to make it a public article, so I did not keep track appropriately of the sources as I usually do. I usually don't write about "writing styles" and "languages" :)
I hope that my answer will satisfy you.

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