Is “the” Capitalized in a Title? What Other Capitalization Rules Should You Know?

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The English language can be hard to write because there are many basic rules you must follow. With that, during the writing process, there are specific title capitalization rules you need to know.

With various style guides out there, it’s easier to find out what should be capitalized and when. However, it’s best to know which one you should follow, especially for the title. Capitalize every pronoun and the first/last word. While that’s the foundation, there are a few other rules to know and use.

Typically, “the” is never capitalized unless it’s the first word of the title.

How to Use a Title Case Converter Tool

Because there are so many title capitalization rules out there, it’s often hard to know how to properly write the title. Capitalize specific words but leave others lowercase. Since it’s confusing to so many, there are tools out there to help with capitalization.

Generally, to use a title converter tool, choose the capitalization style by clicking on the appropriate tab. Then, you enter the title into the text box; no words have to be capitalized at this stage. Tap the button, and the title is automatically changed to meet that style’s guide. You can now copy that title and put it in your article.

Options for Case Converter on Major Words

You’ve got many options to help you capitalize and change the case of song titles, headlines, book titles, email subjects, and other titles. Here are just some of the ways you can use the title case converter tool:

Top Tabs

The top tabs help you choose the capitalization style you want. It follows the style guide title capitalization rules you select.

  • Email – Use the proper capitalization rules for email.
  • Wikipedia – Use the rules for Wikipedia capitalization needs.
  • NY TimesChoose to utilize the style guide for the NY Times.
  • AMA – Use the rules for capitalization outlined by the AMA Style Manual.
  • BB – Utilize the style guide from Bluebook for your title needs.
  • MLA – Use the MLA handbook for title needs and capitalization.
  • AP – Use the Associated Press capitalization guidelines.
  • Chicago – Use the rules for capitalization outlined by the Chicago Manual.
  • APA – Capitalize the title based on the APA guide.

Bottom Buttons

There are also bottom buttons to help you choose the right conversion to get your title capitalized correctly. These include:

  • Title Case – Capitalize the words that must be capitalized according to the style you choose.
  • Sentence Case – Only the first word of each sentence is capitalized.
  • Uppercase – Convert the title into uppercase from lowercase.
  • Lowercase – Convert the title into lowercase from uppercase.
  • First Letter – You can capitalize the first letter.
  • Alt Case – It’s easy to capitalize every other letter of the text, with the first one being capitalized.
  • Toggle Case – Change the case of each letter in the string.
  • Multi-line Input – Switch between single/multi-line mode. With single-line, you can only convert one title at a time but use multiple styles. With multi-line mode, you can convert 30 title options using one style.

Uses for a Capitalization Converter

There are many ways to use a case converter tool, such as:

  • Title Case Converter – Quickly convert the title into title case by clicking on the title case button.
  • Sentence Case Converter – Convert the title into sentence case by tapping the sentence case button.
  • Upper to Lowercase – When you accidentally leave caps lock on, you can convert the string from upper to lowercase. That way, everything is not capitalized.
  • Lower to Uppercase – If you want all the letters to be capitalized, use this function. That way, everything is in capital letters.
  • Uppercase to Title Case – You can also have everything in capitals and choose to turn it into title case.

Title Capitalization Rules

It’s hard to know what to capitalize in a title, but you must do so to ensure that the titles and headlines are correct. If you don’t know what words to capitalize, you should use a title capitalization tool.

There are four primary capitalization styles: Chicago, APA, MLA, and AP. Each one has specific rules on which words must be capitalized. With any of them, you can choose the title case capitalization style or sentence case capitalization needs.

What Is Title Case?

Generally, title case capitalization is a top choice and is considered the most common title capitalization form for headline capitalization and title capitalization. It’s found in the four biggest title capitalization styles. With that, title case is typically used for movie titles, book titles, plays, song names, and other works of art.

The headline style usually uses these capitalization rules, regardless of the style in title case:

  • Make sure that you capitalize the first word of the title.
  • Capitalize the last word for the title.
  • Capitalize words that are important in titles.

Important words for the last bullet often refer to:

  • Verbs (type, write, create)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (with fewer than five letters)
  • Pronouns (she, they, he)
  • Nouns (tablet, book, kitchen)
  • Adverbs (smoothly, quietly)
  • Adjectives (large, tiny)

Typically, title case is the most common option for book titles, article titles, and much more. When you need to capitalize multiple letters, consider using title case!

Do You Always Capitalize the First Word of the Title?

Yes, the first word of any title is capitalized.

Words You Don’t Capitalize in Title Case

The above words are generally capitalized within titles, regardless of the style. However, some words aren’t capitalized in title case. This depends on the style you choose and includes:

  • Short prepositions (by, at, to)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (for, but, and)
  • Short words (less than four letters)
  • Articles (the, an, a)

What’s Sentence Case?

Another major option is sentence case. This means that you only have to capitalize the first letter of your sentence or proper nouns. Nothing else is capitalized, and this is the same throughout every style.

Understanding capitalization rules helps you write better and look professional.

Title Capitalization Style Rules

Chicago Manual of Style Rules

Chicago Manual is a top choice and one of three styles that are highly popular. In fact, Chicago Style is highly respected and the most used headline capitalization method for journalism. Typically, the rules for Chicago Style are fairly standard:

  • Capitalize the last word and first one.
  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, subordinating conjunctions, adverbs, verbs, and adjectives.
  • Keep prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions lowercase.
  • Always keep “to” in an infinitive as lowercase.
  • Capitalize the first word immediately after a colon: (Feminine Poetry: Women Writers)

APA Style Rules

For scholarly articles, you need the right capitalization for the APA headings. Here are the rules:

  • Capitalize the first word of your title or heading and any sub-heading or subtitle.
  • Capitalize the major words (verbs, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, and adjectives) in the heading/title and any following words that matter.
  • Always capitalize the first element of hyphenated major words and the second element sometimes. For example, a spelled-out number must have both letters capitalized. Here, it is Self-Report instead of Self-report.
  • Don’t capitalize minor words but capitalize any words with four or more letters.

MLA Style Rules

The MLA style is also one of the top three styles out there. Typically, it’s used for scholarly articles, and you should ensure that you’ve got the right capitalization. Here are the rules to follow:

  • Capitalize any first words of the heading or title, as well as subheadings and subtitles.
  • Capitalize major words (adjectives, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, and verbs) in the heading and title, including hyphenated major words.
  • Don’t capitalize articles, coordinating conjunctions, or prepositions (regardless of length).
  • Don’t capitalize the “to” in an infinitive.

AP Style Rules

Generally, the AP style is only used for Associated Press writers. However, other journalists use it, so here are the rules:

  • Capitalize any words with three letters or more.
  • Capitalize the first and last words.
  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives, verbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
  • Don’t capitalize coordinating conjunctions, prepositions, and articles (an, the, a)
  • Capitalize any words with four letters or more (including prepositions and conjunctions.

Bluebook Rules

In most cases, lawyers are the only ones who use Bluebook rules. However, here they are:

  • Capitalize the first or last word.
  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, subordinate conjunctions, adverbs, verbs, and adjectives.
  • Keep coordinating junctions, articles, and prepositions with four letters or less lowercase.

AMA Manual Style Rules

Usually, the AMA version is used for the scientific community. The rules are:

  • Capitalize the last word and first one in subtitles and titles.
  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, subordinate conjunctions, and adverbs (only major words).
  • Keep coordinating conjunctions, prepositions with four or fewer letters, and articles lowercase.
  • Keep “to” as an infinitive lowercase.
  • Always keep the second word in the hyphenated compound lowercase when it’s a suffix or prefix or is part of a single word.
  • Capitalize the second word in the hyphenated compound if both of the words are equal and not a prefix/suffix.
  • Capitalize the beginning non-Greek letter after the lowercase Greek letter.
  • Keep the first non-Greek letter lowercase after the capital Greek letter.
  • Capitalize the genus and keep the species epithet lowercase.

NY Times Rules

Here are the rules for NY Times writers:

  • Only selected prepositions of two to three letters are lowercase, such as in, by, for, at, etc.
  • Capitalize major words, such as nouns, pronouns, verbs, and more.


In a sense, title case is what most people need when writing, as it’s the most common title capitalization option. However, the various style guides have their own rules. While some of them are similar, it’s up to you to know which one to use while writing.

It’s crucial to pay attention when copy editing because you want to do a good job and have an article that looks right. If you’re not sure how to capitalize headings, use a title capitalization tool.

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