What Is Title Case and How Do You Use It?

What is title case? As a blogger or writer — or someone who enjoys books and magazines — you’re aware that titles usually include a mix of capitalized and uncapitalized words. How you use title casing, however, can set a professional, consistent tone or a downright sloppy one. Style books are handy writing tools; they lay out guidelines on title casing (among many other topics) to give written works consistency and fluidity. Most people want to create professional-looking sites without having to memorize a style guide. If this sounds like you, check out these easy-to-remember title casing basics.

A quick look at style books

Choices come in handy in every aspect of life — even when you’re writing. Style guides offer various writing standards, but it’s wise to choose one that complements your website’s theme or brand voice. When you reference different style books for title casing ideas, you’ll notice that the first and last words are (almost) always capitalized, but beyond that, the rules may vary.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is a popular guide, often used for fiction and nonfiction publishing. In a nutshell, CMOS calls for capitalization of all verbs, nouns, and pronouns, but not prepositions (such as in, to, after, through) regardless of word length.

Alternatively, the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook is popular among journalists, news writers, and bloggers. Basically, in AP title case guidelines, you capitalize all words containing four or more letters (more on this style later).

If your blog revolves around social science — politics, education, sociology — you might prefer to use the Modern Language Association (MLA) style book, like many of your peers probably do. In short, title case guidelines for MLA include capitalizing all important words and words with more than three letters, but not prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, articles (a, an, the), or the “to” in infinitives (as in, “How to Create a Landing Page That Pays Its Way“).

Quick title casing checklist for AP style

  • Capitalize the first and last words
  • Capitalize all words with four or more letters
  • Capitalize important words, including actions (sit, stay, is, are, be), nouns (city, woman, month), and names (Santa, Google, November)
  • Include a space after a colon, for example, “Spotlight on Successful Blogs: Learning from the Best

Looking for a playful, edgy, or casual style?

Some sites — bakery blogs, playful pet sites, fashion-forward teen clothing websites — might benefit from a more informal tone. What is a good title case for people who want to keep it lighthearted? For inspiration, consider CamelCase. Often used by tech businesses, WordPress is an example of upper CamelCase style, while iPad is written in lower CamelCase. To use this titling style, capitalize each word, stringing them together without spaces. For the lowercase format, don’t capitalize the first word, as in “theSpecWorkConundrum: shouldYouAcceptOrDecline?

Other unconventional case options include snake_case, spine-case, UPPERCASE, and lowercase; but as with any unusual styles, they could create an unprofessional effect if used incorrectly or in academic settings.

Think about your headings

So, what is title case when it comes to headings? With blog posts, how you compose your articles’ headings or subheads is about as personal as the colors of your wardrobe. But again, base your choice on whether you’re going for a laid-back, jazzy effect or something more prim and scholarly. For ideas, contemplate the headings in this story and other WordPress.com articles. Using sentence case gives them a more relaxed tone. To make our headings stand out, we generally format them in larger text than the rest of the article’s content. If you prefer, use your favorite title case style for your subheads and titles, too.

On your pages and posts lists, type in your headings and titles using various formats to see how they look. Alternatively, use a title case or capitalization tool, like HeadlineCapitalization.com, that converts them for you.

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Lorna Hordos

Lorna Hordos is a home-flipping business owner and freelance writer.

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