Capitalisation styles

Five different styles of capitalisation can be applied to titles and words in English.

Capitalisation style Meaning Examples Used for
Minimal (‘sentence case’) Use an initial capital letter only on the first word of a phrase or title and any proper nouns
  • Bringing them home report
  • History of Asian architecture
  • My brilliant career
  • Headings (see Heading basics)
  • Titles (see Presenting titles) of:
    • books
    • reports
    • articles
    • websites
    • plays
    • songs
    • poems
    • films
    • television programs
    • most other creative works
Maximal (‘title case’)

Capitalise the first word of a phrase or title as well as all of its nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs, but not conjunctions, determiners (eg a, the, his, their) or prepositions.

In this style:

  • capitalise all verbs, short (eg Tender Is the Night) or long (eg The Importance of Learning Fast)
  • do not capitalise prepositions, short (eg for, by, on, of) or long (eg between, over, through)
  • capitalise pronouns if they are significant to the meaning (eg Bringing Them Home Report)
  • for hyphenated compound words, capitalise both the first element and the other elements (eg Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Forty-Fifth Avenue)
  • for words with a hyphenated prefix, do not capitalise the base word unless it is a proper noun (eg Anti-inflammatory Diet, English for Non-English Speakers)
  • capitalise the first word after a colon in a title, including conjunctions, determiners and prepositions (eg Causes of Cancer: An Expert Review, Modern Grammar: For Editors)
  • Barack Obama
  • Journal of Nuclear Medicine
  • The Age
  • Narcotic Drugs Act 1967
  • Proper and full formal names
  • Titles of:
    • journals and newspapers
    • large works of music and album names 
    • books (according to the editorial style used by some publishers)
    • legislation and treaties
Full Capitalise all letters
  • NASA
  • IMPORTANT: do not leave valuables unattended
  • Initialisms
  • Acronyms
  • Emphasis (use sparingly)
Medial (‘camel case’) Use an additional capital letter in the middle of the word
  • HarperCollins
  • TermFinder
  • Brand names
Small capitals Use capital letters that are only the height of the lower-case letters of the typeface
  • -glucose
  • Design feature (eg for captions)
  • Some technical designations (eg in chemical names)

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