When you’re writing a heading, headline, or title using title case, when do you use initial capitals for prepositions?
Simple rule for when to capitalize prepositions
Some sources simply lower-case any shorter preposition. I like the approach taken by Jan Venolia in Write Right! She says, “Capitalize prepositions if they consist of four or more letters, or if they are connected with a preceding verb” (emphasis added by me). The second part of her rule means you’ll sometimes capitalize a shorter preposition.
Here’s her example of a preposition connected with a preceding verb: Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.
More on capitalizing titles
In another clarification of the rules for initial capitals in titles, Venolia says, “Capitalize both parts of a hyphenated word in a title or headline unless it is considered as one word or is a compound numeral.”
Of course, if you’re copy-editing for your company or a client, check to see what its style guide says about capitalization. Companies may follow AP style, the Chicago Manual of Style, or one of the many other different styles out there. They may also have style guidelines customized to their own needs because the major style guides don’t go into the details needed in every industry.
Honestly, one reason that I like using sentence case for titles, headings, and headlines is that I don’t have to worry about when to capitalize. Sentence case means that you only capitalize the first word in the title, plus any proper nouns, of course.
By the way, if you’d like an online tool to help with capitalizing titles, check out the Title Case Converter. However, be aware that it might not capture exceptions to the rules, such as not capitalizing both parts of a hyphenated number.
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