to capitalize or not to capitalize

NaBloPoMo Day 18:
Tell us about a blog post that you didn’t publish.

March 28, 2013: “Title Capitalization Rules I Am Going to Follow”

Let me explain why I decided not to publish that post.

When I started this blog, I agonized over how to capitalize my post titles. Believe it or not, there are all sorts of variation in capitalization. You can use sentence case, where you just capitalize the first word and any proper nouns, just as you would in a sentence. Sentence case is apparently used in most countries, but not most of the United States.  Here, titles tend to be written in title case, where most of the “major” words in the title are capitalized.

Within title case, however, there are multiple styles one could follow, with varying ideas as to what comprises a “major” word. There’s APA Style, Chicago Manual of Style, the US Government Printing Office Style Manual… and each of them has different rules.

  • Don’t capitalize articles, coordinating conjunctions or prepositions!
  • Okay, you can capitalize them if they are the first or last words of the title!
  • Capitalize prepositions and conjunctions of more than four letters!
  • Capitalize subordinating conjunctions!
  • Capitalize all words in titles of publications and documents, except a, an, the, at, by, for, in, of, on, to, up, and, as, but, it, or, and nor!
  • (Don’t even get me started on the differences in capitalizing hyphenated words. Yikes!)

A blog detective would notice some crazily-inconsistent capitalization for the first two years of this blog as I hopped from one style to another in search of the one that seemed “right” to me. I had decided to remedy the problem and commit to a specific style guide going forward when I wrote the unpublished post. Then I decided to take a leaf from the book of one of my favorite bloggers, Shawni at 71 Toes. She doesn’t capitalize her titles, ever. How easy! I could definitely get on board with that. So when this blog was reimagined as Live*Grow*Love, that’s the way I went, and the whole capitalization post was never needed.

Edited to add: I do still capitalize proper nouns. I can’t get too crazy, you know.

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