Monday, 20 October 2014

A Capital Dilemma #writetip

Sean from Brighton sent in a formatting question: I never know when to use capitals in titles. I see sometimes there are words in the middle without caps, but I don’t know why. Also, should the title of a story have a full stop at the end?

I’ll answer the last question first, as it will be the short part of my answer. No, titles shouldn’t have a full stop at the end as they are not sentences. However, if the title forms a question, you should use a question mark or, if it is necessary to show shock, surprise or a similar emotion, an exclamation mark.

Question: Far from the Madding Crowd?
Exclamation: Far from the Madding Crowd!
Straight title: Far from the Madding Crowd

As you can see from the title I’ve borrowed in the explanation above, some of the words are in lower case. What I’ve used is called title case.

This is because capital letters are used only for the first word and the principal words.

So, you would use capitals for all words which are NOT articles (a/an/the), conjunctions (any joining word such as and/but/or) and prepositions (such as on/in/with/from).

If a title starts with an article, conjunction or preposition, that would be capitalised.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix does not have the conjunction, articles or preposition capitalised. However, if the book title hadn’t included Harry’s name, the first article would need to be capitalised as it would then be the first word in the title: The Order of the Phoenix

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