Making title capitalization easy. Automatically capitalize your email subjects, essay, headline, and article titles. Use Title Case, AP style, APA style, Chicago style, MLA style, and more.

What to Capitalize in a Title

Understanding what to capitalize in a title is important to make sure that your titles and headlines look correct. If you’re confused about what words to capitalize in a title or headline, we recommend using our title capitalization tool above, but if you want specific capitalization rules, they are as follows.

First, it is important to note that there are four main title capitalization styles: Chicago style, APA style, MLA style, and AP style. Each of these capitalization styles has slightly different rules for which words are capitalized and each of these styles can be written using title case capitalization or sentence case capitalization.

Title Case Capitalization

In general, the following capitalization rules apply across the four styles in title case:

  • Capitalize the first word in the title
  • Capitalize the last word in the title
  • Capitalize the important words in the title

Important words in that last bullet generally refer to:

  • Adjectives (tiny, large, etc.)
  • Adverbs (quietly, smoothly, etc.)
  • Nouns (tablet, kitchen, book)
  • Pronouns (they, she, he)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (when less than 5 letters)
  • Verbs (write, type, create)

Title case is the most common title capitalization for book titles, headlines, articles titles, etc. When multiple letters in a title need to be capitalized, use title case capitalization.

Words Not Capitalized in Title Case

While the above words are generally capitalized in titles regardless of style, there are some words that are generally not capitalized when using title case. These include short words and conjunctions:

  • Articles (a, an, the)
  • Coordinating Conjunctions (and, but, for)
  • Short (less than 5 letters) Prepositions (at, by, from)

What Is Sentence Case?

The other major type of title capitalization standard is sentence case. Sentence case simply means you capitalize the first letter of a sentence and nothing else as opposed to capitalizing almost every first letter in title case. It is the same across all of the four styles.

For more specific title capitalization rules, you can see the following sections which cover each style of title capitalization rules or check out our FAQs for common capitalization questions.

Title Capitalization Rules

Chicago Manual of Style Capitalization Rules

Chicago Style is one of the most used and respected headline capitalization methods used in journalism. The rules are fairly standard for title case:

  1. Capitalize the first and the last word.
  2. Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
  3. Lowercase articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.
  4. Lowercase the ‘to’ in an infinitive (I want to play guitar).

APA and MLA Style Capitalization Rules

Making sure you have the right capitalization for APA and MLA headings is crucial for scholarly articles. The following rules apply to APA and MLA headings:

  1. Capitalize the first word of the title/heading and of any subtitle/subheading
  2. Capitalize all major words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns) in the title/heading, including the second part of hyphenated major words (e.g., Self-Report not Self-report)
  3. Capitalize all words of four letters or more.

AP Style Capitalization Rules

AP style capitalization is mainly used by writers for the Associated Press but is also used widely throughout journalism. The capitalization rules are as follow:

  1. Capitalize words with 4 or more letters.
  2. Capitalize the first and the last word.
  3. Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
  4. Lowercase articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.
  5. Lowercase the ‘to’ in an infinitive (I want to play guitar).