Where did I do during my English classes?
I accidentally visited a writing site last night and boy, was I caught off guard! I did not know there are actually rules for writing titles to our compositions?!!?
My English courses only included Elementary and High School English classes and some 18 units of English in College. That’s that. I don’t recall learning rules for writing the title – no, I do not believe I absented myself when it was taught because surely, I would have encountered them while reviewing for exams!
I was reading the rules online and I got dizzy – my brain could not process it fast, that was why I ended up copying it to my desktop, intending to read the rules first every time I make a post. Unfortunately, I left out which site it was copied from (my apologies to that site).
Anyway, I just want to share what I learned last night to my friends who regularly read this blog (hoy, did you know this?)
So, the general rules for writing titles are:
- Always capitalize the first and the last word.
- Capitalize all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions (“as”, “because”, “although”).
- Lowercase all articles, coordinate conjunctions (“and”, “or”, “nor”), and prepositions regardless of length, when they are other than the first or last word. (It is preferable to capitalize prepositions of five characters or more (“after”, “among”, “between”).)
- Lowercase the “to” in an infinitive.
More particular rules include:
Some writers lowercase all two-letter words, probably by extrapolation from the short prepositions “of”, “to”, “up”, and so on, and the word “to” in infinitives. But if a two-letter word is acting as a noun, pronoun, adjective, or adverb, it must be capitalized. For example:
- Go Tell it on the Mountain
(wrong; “it” is a pronoun and should be capitalized)
When is a Spade a Spade?
(wrong; “is” is a verb and should be capitalized)
Some writers lowercase words that can function as prepositions when those words are currently functioning in other capacities. For example:
- The Man in the Moon Owns a Yellow Balloon
(correct; “in” is functioning as a preposition and should be lowercased)
Bringing in the Sheaves
(wrong; “in” is functioning as an adverb and should be capitalized)
Some writers find it hard to decide how to capitalize a title containing a phrasal verb. Phrasal verbs are verbs whose meaning is completed by a word called a particle. For example, the verb “to give” has a different meaning than the phrasal verb “to give up”.
Like other multipurpose words, words functioning as particles must be distinguished from the same words functioning as prepositions. Particles are always capitalized because they form part of the verb. For example:
- My Travels up Nova Scotia’s South Shore
(correct; “up” is functioning as a preposition and should be lowercased)
Setting up Your Computer
(wrong; “up” is functioning as a particle and should be capitalized)
Grammar just doesn’t sink naturally into everyone’s head. To some writers, the fact that one word resembles another is enough reason to treat those words equally when it comes to capitalization in a title. For example:
- The Time of their Lives
(wrong; “their” is an adjective and should be capitalized—the writer probably extrapolated from “the”)
Did I write my title correctly this time?