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capitalization: publications and works of art

In the English titles of publications and works of art, capitalize all words except the following:

  • articles (a, an, the);
  • conjunctions of fewer than four letters; and
  • prepositions of fewer than four letters.

Note, however, that these exceptions are also capitalized when they immediately follow a period, colon or dash within a title, or when they are the first or last word in a title.


  • books: Under the Volcano; In the Skin of a Lion; A Fine Balance
  • short story: “To Reach Japan”
  • periodical: Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review
  • newspaper: The Globe and Mail
  • article: “Top 20 Universities by Reputation”
  • play: The Rez Sisters
  • film: Goin’ Down the Road
  • opera: The Magic Flute
  • musical recording: “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”
  • painting: Rain in the North Country
  • sculpture: The Thinker

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

Short titles

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 Puffinville Gazette.
  • I read about it in the Gazette.

Titles all in capitals

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

Ancient manuscripts

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

  • the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Codex Alexandrinus

Sacred writings

The titles of sacred writings are capitalized:

  • the Bible (adjective Biblical or biblical)
  • the Pentateuch (adjective Pentateuchal)
  • the Torah
  • the Talmud (adjective Talmudic, Talmudical)
  • the Quran (adjective Quranic)
  • the Bhagavad-Gita

Hyphenated compounds in titles

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

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