Capitalization on titles of chapters, articles, etc.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Soto, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Soto Senior Member

    español - argentina

    I was wondering what happens with the capitalization on titles when it comes to texts that belong to a larger publication. I know all important nouns must be capitalize on book's titles (for instance, On Poetry and Poets), but I'm not sure if the same happens with the title of an article that's in the book: is it "The Frontiers of Criticism" or "The frontiers of criticism"?

    I'm sure this has been asked and answered before, but even though I searched carefully, I couldn't find any thread containing this information.

    Thank you in advance and sorry for my english
  2. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Different publications have different rules for this sort of thing.

    Generally, you apply the same rule to all those sorts of titles: the title of the book, the title of articles in the book, and any other titles you come across.

    However, there are exceptions. APA (American Psychological Association) style for references, which is widely used in all type of academic publication, instructs people to capitalize only the first word of a title*. If you're writing for a specific publication, find out what its "house style" is and follow it.

    *As well as any proper nouns, acronyms, etc., that it contains, of course. Even it APA style it's Waiting for Godot, not Waiting for godot.
  3. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    APA applies to articles published in its journals and in journals that follow its style manual. Those would mostly be in psychology and some related social sciences. In the humanities, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has a style manual. Scientific journals have their own styles. "Sentence capitalization" of titles is a European trick that has been adopted by some academic disciplines in the U.S. but I do not think it is universal, and I would be very careful about calling it "widespread" without data from a survey of a wide range of journals and publishers, on either a universal or a random-sample basis. It's not what I was taught or used when I wrote my dissertation (completed in 1975), and I don't think my field has changed; I have not noticed sentence capitalization of titles in citations in more recent publications in that field.
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Except for professional and technical journals, the general practice for titles of books, articles, and book chapters is that the first word is always capitalized and all subsequent words are capitalized except for articles and two- and three-letter prepositions.

    Individual publications may choose to depart from this general practice for stylistic or graphic purposes.
  5. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Several journals in my field (business broadly, information systems in particular) require APA style - and it's about as far removed from psych as you can get. I don't like it myself, but I have to use it. My major beef with it isn't its capitalization style, but that weirdness doesn't help its case in my book.

    I didn't use it in my dissertation (finished in 1969), but my committee didn't care much about that sort of thing. In retrospect, they probably just wanted to get me out of their hair.

    The basic point is that whoever publishes something may have preferences. They're not a secret. Find out what they are (check their Web site, ask an editor) and follow them.
  6. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English

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