Do you know which words should be capitalized in headings and titles?
In this post, we’ll teach you about title case capitalization, what it means, the rules that apply, some examples of how to correctly use it, and free converters that will automagically apply the correct capitalization to your text for you.
What does title case mean?
Title case goes by several different names, including headline style and initial caps. For this post, we’ll refer to it as its most popular name – title case.
No matter what you call it, you’re either going to use title case or sentence case for capitalization. These two styles are the most commonly used capitalization styles in English, so you’ll need to know the difference.
With title case, the first letter of each word in your sentence is capitalized. Certain small words, articles, and prepositions are kept in lower case, like “a,” “and,” or “but.” Here are some examples of when title case is used:
• Titles of references such as books and articles
• Titles of tests or inventories
• Titles of papers and their sections
• Titles of journals, magazines, and newspapers
• Tab descriptions
• Menu options
• Row and column headers
• Titles of reports or lists
• Names of programs, transactions, etc.
• Frame and dialog boxes
However, with sentence case, the capitalization style is mainly lowercase letters. In sentence case, the first word of the title, proper nouns, and proper adjectives are all capitalized with the rest of the words in lowercase. It’s similar to how a regular sentence is written.
Rules for using title case
Follow the styleguide
There’s no standardized rule that determines when you should choose to use title case. Instead, different writing styleguides have their own rules that state whether title case or sentence case is used.
This means that you’ll need to check the styleguide you follow to see if title case is required. Keep in mind that a styleguide may use both sentence and title case.
For example, take the APA styleguide. They use a mix of title case and sentence case in its guidelines. Titles of works use title case, whereas headings within works use both cases.
As one of the most common writing styles, APA is frequently used by researchers and students, but it’s not the only style used in academia. Get familiar with the styleguide that you’re required to use for your work so you can apply title case when necessary.
Capitalize the right words
You won’t capitalize every word when you use title case. As mentioned above, small words, prepositions, and articles are not capitalized.
Here are the types of words that need to be capitalized with title case:
• Prepositions and conjunctions (with five or more letters)
• Prepositions that make up part of a verb phrase
• Subordinating conjunctions
• Hyphenated words (both parts)
• Words following a colon or semicolon
5 examples of title case style
Here are some examples to help you effectively apply title case to your headlines and subheads:
Example 1: Book title in title case
In this example, “of” should not be capitalized.
Example 2: Poem title in title case
The incorrect example is written in sentence case, not title case.
Example 3: News article headline in title case
The words following a colon should be capitalized with title case.
Example 4: Article subhead in title case
Subheads in title case should be capitalized the same way as headings.
Example 5: Name of a report in title case
All nouns should be capitalized in title case, not just proper nouns.
Best title case converters
Fortunately, writing headlines and subheads doesn’t mean you have to hold down the shift or Caps Lock keys repeatedly. There are many apps and software options available to help you accurately convert text into title case. The majority of these title case converters are free to use.
Here are some of the best title case converter tools available:
1. Capitalize My Title
Capitalize My Title automatically case converts and capitalizes text in your chosen writing style (APA, MLA, Chicago Style, etc.). The tool can be accessed via the website or WordPress plugin. The site also includes helpful resources and capitalization rules for all of the featured styleguides. It’s also free to use.
2. Title Case Converter
Title Case Converter is a free, smart capitalization tool capable of converting text to title case using a variety of styleguides. This web-based tool includes resources like their blog to guide their audience to use title case correctly.
3. Convert Case
Convert Case is a straightforward, web-based tool that lets users paste their text and see it converted to title case in real-time. The corrected text can then be downloaded or copied to the clipboard. The website has additional free converter tools like its Strikethrough Text Generator and Binary Code Translator.
4. Title Case
When you input your text in the web-based Title Case tool, it’s automatically converted into multiple types of titles. For instance, in addition to Title Case, you’ll see hyphen-case, UPPERCASE, lowercase, and PascalCase versions of your text. Simply click the link to copy any of these options to your clipboard.
5. Text Magic
Text Magic’s web-based tool has four options you can toggle between to change the case of your text: Normal text, ALL CAPITALIZED, all minimized, and All First Letter Big. To use title case, you would simply select the “All First Letter Big” option and click “Copy Results.” The case converter tool is free to use, though the company offers paid versions of their SMS services.
6. Prosper Circle
Prosper Circle’s Title Capitalization tool is a smart case converter that lets you convert your text following different styleguidelines like APA and NY Times. The free web-based tool includes a resource of helpful information about capitalization rules for the different styleguides.
7. Saijo George
The web-based Title Case Converter by Saijo George is fairly simple and straightforward. It’s free to use, just plug your text in and click “Title Case” to convert. This tool is limited to only accepting one line at a time.
Web3 has a simple, web-based Title Case Converter Tool that lets users input a line of text at a time. Simply paste your text and click “Convert to Title Case.” The website gives a brief description of title case rules. Web3 is an agency and offers this free tool outside of their paid marketing services.
9. Essay Tools
Essay Tools lets you insert blocks of text at a time for case conversion. With this web-based tool, you can change your words into UPPERCASE, lowercase, Sentence case, or Title Case. The Case Converter isn’t Essay Tools’ only offering. The website also has a citation generator in addition to the case converter tool.
AnyCase is an app that can be used across Windows as a title capitalization tool. AnyCase is limited in that you can only use it on the device it was installed in. However, it is one of few case conversion tools that can be used online or offline. While there is a free plan, premium plans include additional features at just $12 per year.
11. Google Docs
If you write most of your stuff in Google Docs, there is a lesser-known feature that enables you to turn any heading to Title Case.
Just select Format –> Text –> Capitalization –> Title Case.
While you can rely on converter tools to change your text into title case, it helps to have a firm understanding of the capitalization rules. Familiarize yourself with the capitalization rules of your chosen styleguide and practice writing them yourself. You can always use a converter tool to check your work and streamline the process.