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4.29 Publications and works of art

In English titles of books, articles, periodicals, newspapers, plays, operas and long musical compositions and recordings, poems, paintings, sculptures and motion pictures, capitalize all words except articles, conjunctions of fewer than four letters, and prepositions of fewer than four letters. These exceptions are also capitalized when they immediately follow a period, colon or dash within a title and when they are the first or last word in a title:

  • book
    • Virginia Woolf: A Biography
  • book
    • Under the Volcano
  • book
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • book
    • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • painting
    • Rain in the North Country
  • film
    • Goin’ Down the Road
  • opera
    • The Magic Flute

Words that are normally prepositions are capitalized when they help form another part of speech:

  • Getting By While Getting On
  • Guide to On-Reserve Housing

In short titles, capitalize words that would be capitalized in full titles:

  • Appleton’s General Guide to the United States and Canada, Illustrated With Railway Maps, Plans of Cities, and Table of Railway and Steamboat Fares, for the Year 1891 (full title)
  • Appleton’s Guide for 1891 (short form)
  • I read about it in the News.

Even if some words appear in all capital letters on the title page, capitalize only initial letters, except in specialized bibliographies that must reflect the original typography.

Titles of ancient manuscripts are capitalized, even if the titles were assigned in modern times:

  • the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Codex Alexandrinus

See the Appendix for capitalization of titles in French.

In titles containing hyphenated compounds, always capitalize the first element. Capitalize the second element if it is a proper noun or proper adjective or if it is as important as the first element:

  • A History of Eighteenth-Century Literature
  • Anti-Americanism in Latin America