The details to poise your writing for success

Titles: Capitalization and Alterations

Black=Chicago and AP agree. Blue=Chicago only. Orange=AP only.

AP: Sentence-style capitalization for headlines

If you are writing a news headline, use sentence-style capitalization. Capitalize first word, first word after colon, and proper nouns.

Streetcar celebrates one year in Kansas City

But some publications prefer headline-style capitalization for their headlines, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

If you are referring to a news headline, use headline-style capitalization, since it’s the title of a work. See next section for specifics.

I read the article “Streetcar Celebrates One Year in Kansas City.”

Source: AP Stylebook 2016: headlines, composition titles. Ask the Editor

AP and Chicago: Headline-Style Capitalization for Titles of Works

Chicago and AP both use headline-style capitalization for titles of works. But they disagree on a few points.


  • First and last words
  • All other major words (noun, pronoun, verb, adj., adv., and some conjunctions.)
  • First word of subtitle after colon.
  • AP only: Capitalize prepositions and conjunctions of 4+ letters.
  • Remember to cap (easy words to forget):
    • Short verbs (Is Am Are Was Were, Be, Do, Has, Can, etc.)
    • That, Than, While
    • Pronouns, including possessive: Its, His, Her, etc.


  • Lowercase articles a, an, the.
  • CMS: Lowercase these conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor. AP: Lowercase conjunctions of ≤3 letters.
  • Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length. AP: Lowercase prepositions of ≤3 letters.

    • Including long prepositions such as according, concerning. (AP: no, only three or fewer letters.)
    • Except when they are used adverbially or adjectivally (Follow Up, Turn Down, The On Button). (AP agrees.)
      • Therefore, it is Income per Capita but Per Capita Income (AP does not specify this.)
  • Lowercase as in all cases.
    • AP does not specify, but perhaps they should, since as can be a conjunction, adverb, or preposition, causing multiple capitalization situations.*
  • Usually lowercase to, unless it’s an adverb. Wanting to Drive to School (but Come To, To and Fro).
    • AP agrees, for the most part,*
  • Lowercase particle in proper name like de or von.
  • Lowercase 2nd part of species name: Homo sapiens.

With hyphenation:

  • Always cap first element.
  • Follow the capitalization rules above for other elements. Red-and-Blue Life. The Blue-Is-Better Mentality.

    • BUT, if first element is a prefix or combining form that could not stand on its own as a word (anti, pre, etc.) do not cap the 2nd element (unless proper noun/adj.). Fixed-Rate but Anti-itch. (AP does not distinguish these situations, so it would be Anti-Itch.)
  • Cap 2nd element in spelled-out number or fraction. Twenty-One, Two-Thirds
  • lc flat/sharp after musical note Concerto in C-sharp Minor.

Source: CMS 8.157–59, 14.204, 14.95; AP Composition Titles, Ask the Editor.

Titles of Works: Formatting

Books, journals and magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites analogous to printed work, movies, TV series, plays, albums, computer and video games, dictionaries and encyclopedias, etc.

CMS: Title of Work
AP: varies, see below.

Articles, TV episodes, songs, etc.

“Title of Work” (CMS and AP agree.)

Websites that aren’t blogs, manuscript collections

Title of Work

AP does not use italics.
No quotes for newspapers, journals, magazines, dictionaries, encyclopedias, blogs

The New York Times, Overland Journal, Newsweek, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, The Mom Blog

Quotes for books, movies, TV series, plays, albums, computer and video games [check these]

“Title of Book,” “Movie Title,” etc.

Altering Titles of Works

In text, notes, or bibliography, preserve original spelling, hyphenation, and punctuation as shown on the title page of the work. But make the following changes. (8.163)

1. Initial The.

• CMS: For periodicals, newspapers, and websites that aren’t blogs, omit initial The from the title (even if it’s part of the official title).
AP: Always keep initial The if it’s part of the official name. Unless several papers are named.*

The New York Times [official name]

Jan Smith, “Finding Home,” New York Times, May 1, 2000. [citation]

I read it in the New York Times. Today’s New York Times had an error.
AP: I read it in The New York Times.


• For books, blogs, movies, and most other things, keep initial The.*

• But in text, if initial aan, or the doesn’t fit the sentence context, you may remove it if needed. 14.179, 8.167–8, 8.186, 14.244

2. Ampersands in citations.

• For titles, you may spell out and if you prefer. 8.163

• For publisher names in bibliography/notes: you may use and or &, regardless how it appears on title page. Be consistent. 14.141 Note, there is no serial comma before an ampersand.

• However, for company names in regular text, use & if it’s part of the official company name. 10.23.

3. Change superscript to regular. 2nd to 2nd.

4. Capitalization: Change to headline style if title page uses full caps or sentence style.

5. Add colon or comma back in if either has been removed for design. e.g., Title: Subtitle, 1900–1910 might appear on the cover as three different lines in three different type sizes with punctuation removed.

6. Old titles that are very long (18th–19th century)—may shorten with ellipsis. 3 dots in middle of title or 4 at the end.

7. Old titles that use a semicolon between title and subtitle—change to a colon.

8. Words like magazine or journal should only be capitalized and italicized when part of the official name. HGTV Magazine, but People magazine.

Please note:

1. Do not change numbers in titles, whether they are spelled out or numerals.

2. Do not change hyphens, em dashes, or en dashes.

3. No need to add serial commas to titles (unless it’s clear that the original work used serial commas and you feel it’s important).



As is a conjunction meaning “in the way that” (Cool as Ice). Conjunction<4 letters=lowercase.

As is an adverb when it modifies an adjective (It’s As Smooth) or verb (Rules As Stated by Management). Adverb=Cap

◊ Often these are found in the same sentence (It’s As Cool as Ice), which looks a little silly. Use your judgment in these cases and ask yourself, “Is it a principal word?” I would vote for It’s as Cool as Ice.

As is a preposition meaning “like” or “in the role of” (Stand as a Nation) (Work as a Driver). Preposition<4 letters=lowercase.


Q&A says cap to+verb, so Wanting To Drive to School, which looks silly. In these cases, use your judgment and ask yourself, “Is it a principal word?” I would vote for Wanting to Drive to School.


*CMS Q&A says band names follow this convention also. I saw the Who. (not I saw The Who.) They need to publish a list of what should and should not follow this rule, because I see some inconsistencies in the Q&A. But AP would say I saw The Who.


*If several papers are mentioned in a story, you may remove initial The for consistency. See AP Stylebook’s list of newspaper names under newspapers, or look them up online. Source: AP Stylebook 2016: newspaper names, newspapers.