Published May 22, 2017. Updated October 31, 2020.
Capitalization rules can depend on what citation/paper formatting style you are using. Below are capitalization best practices for MLA format (8th ed.), APA format, and Chicago/Turabian style.
- MLA 8 – Capitalization Rules
- Title case: Capitalize the first word in the sentence, last word, and principal words in titles and subtitles, including those with a hyphen. Use this rule for titles of books and articles cited in the text.
- Sentence case: Capitalize the first word in the sentence, the first word after a colon, and any proper nouns in a title. Use this rule for titles of non-English works.
- Do NOT capitalize the following words, unless they begin a title or follow a colon:
- Articles, such as “a, an, the.”
- Prepositions, such as “against, between, in, of, to.”
- Conjunctions, such as “and, but, for, or.”
- APA format – Capitalization Rules
- Title case is used for the following types of sources in APA style: titles of sources when they are in the body of the work, titles of tests, and titles of periodicals that you would also italicize.
- Sentence case is used for reference list entries.
- Chicago/Turabian – Capitalization Rules
- Capitalize proper nouns
- The full names of legislative bodies are capitalized
- Titles of works should be capitalized based on headline-style capitalization rules, which are:
- Capitalize all major words in a title or subtitle
- Do NOT capitalize “a, an, or the” unless they are the first word in the title
- Do NOT capitalize “and, but, for, nor, or, to, as.”
- Proper names are capitalized
- When listing periodicals in the text, do not capitalize the the leading “the,” even if it is part of the title (i.e. the New York Times).
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