How to capitalize English song titles?

This is a discussion thread · 17 replies
1 2
Thomas Dumpf:
Hi,
I have a question regarding song titles. How should I capitalize them?

I know that they have not the "normal" writing, i.e. most words in lowercase, but that most of the words get capitalized, with some exceptions, e.g. "be".
Can anyone tell me the rules on how to correctly capitalize English song titles (, film titles, book titles)?
Thanks!
Thomas
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Michael West:
"Thomas Dumpf" :
[nq:1]Can anyone tell me the rules on how to correctly capitalize English song titles (, film titles, book titles)?[/nq]
Your question is about what is known as
"Title Style" capitalization. You should look it up.

These are common rules when you use title-style caps:

Capitalize every word except:
*Articles (a, an, the)
*Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, yet, and so) *The word to in infinitives
* Prepositions of three letters or fewer (at, by, for, in, of, off, on, out, to, and up) except when the word is part of a verb phrase or is used as another part of
speech (such as an adverb, adjective, noun, or verb).

Capitalize the first and last word, regardless of the part of speech. Capitalize the second word in a hyphenated compound. Capitalize Are, If, Is, It, Than, That, and This.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
(In the shadow of the You-Yangs)
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Dónal:
Imagine you are sending a telegram and put only the IMPORTANT words in capitals.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Mark Brader:
Michael West cites some "common rules when you use title-style caps":
[nq:1]Capitalize every word except: ... * Prepositions of three letters or fewer (at, by, for, in, of, off, on, out, to, and up) except ...[/nq]
Practice varies somewhat on the "three-letter" rule, I think.
[nq:1]Capitalize the second word in a hyphenated compound.[/nq]
No. Rather, treat hyphens as if they were word spaces. If someone wrote a book called "The Once-a-Day Hero", that's how I'd expect it to be capitalized. And if they didn't, maybe they should. "Good title." :-)
[nq:1]Capitalize Are, If, Is, It, Than, That, and This.[/nq]
Practice varies somewhat on some of these. I prefer to see "is" and "are" not capitalized, though they most often are.
Mark Brader, Toronto "C and C++ are two different languages. (Email Removed) That's UK policy..." Clive Feather

My text in this article is in the public domain.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Charles Riggs:
On 11 Aug 2003 08:42:15 -0500, "Michael West"
[nq:1]"Thomas Dumpf" :[/nq]
[nq:2]Can anyone tell me the rules on how to correctly capitalize English song titles (, film titles, book titles)?[/nq]
As the composer, producer, or writer capitalized them.
[nq:1]Your question is about what is known as "Title Style" capitalization. You should look it up.[/nq]
It isn't that simple.
[nq:1]These are common rules when you use title-style caps:[/nq]
Many of which cannot be relied on in every case.
What Is the Name of This Book?

Charles Riggs
For email, take the air out of aircom
and replace with eir
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Michael West:
Looking it up is simple enough for the common people. The rest of us ask others to look it up for us.
[nq:2]These are common rules when you use title-style caps:[/nq]
[nq:1]Many of which cannot be relied on in every case. What Is the Name of This Book?[/nq]
I don't follow you. Why can the rules not be relied upon? What is remarkable about the example you provide?
As some have pointed out, there are other rules. That's why I said "you should look it up."

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia
(In the shadow of the You-Yangs)
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
GrapeApe:
>
This is a matter of style, so you might want to consult a Style Manual.

One common method, but perhaps not the most common, is to capitalize the first word, then every following word that isn't a conjunction or preposition. But even that can quickly become tricky.
Happy Birthday to You
Stop, In the Name of Love
I just looked at a list of songs, and found that an internal instance of "In" is almost never lowercase, but "of" and "the" often work out fine when lowercased.
Another method is to simply capitalize every separate word in the title. This seldomly looks odd, and is a safe method.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Mike Lyle:
[nq:1]This seldomly looks odd, [/nq]
Seldomly? Like, the opposite of oftenly?
Mike.
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Charles Riggs:
[nq:2]This seldomly looks odd, [/nq]
[nq:1]Seldomly? Like, the opposite of oftenly?[/nq]
The adverb is listed in the OED as rare. Although seldomly used, no less than the wonderful Emily Dickinson wrote, "The ships...That touch how seldomly Thy Shore?".

Charles Riggs
For email, take the air out of aircom
and replace with eir
This thread originates from within 'usenet', and as such the content and users are not guaranteed to have been moderated by our community.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here