[Note: Original post deleted as the sheer level of whininess was deemed inappropriate even for this blog. Older post substituted for everyone’s well-being. —The Management]
Headline style is also known as title case and is also known as What Do I Capitalize? Now, as you know, English is a Germanic language. Although it has lots in common with Latin, it takes a bit more Germanic Stance* when it comes to capitals.
*Germanic Stance = Seemingly Gratuitous Capitalization
In a title, capitalize:
- first and last word
- first word of a subtitle
- the second half of a compound unless it is an article, conjunction, or preposition
If you don’t know what part of speech a word is, don’t panic. The dictionary will tell you. And if you are tempted to feel ashamed, don’t. I look this shit up a lot because I have some alarming gaps in my knowledge.
In a title, set the following lowercase (unless they begin a title or subtitle):
- articles (the, an, a, etc.)
- conjunctions (and, but, for)
- the words “to” and “as”
There are a few exceptions to the above rules, but none of which you should worry your pretty heads about, unless you are a copyeditor. (Note: I am worrying my not-so-pretty head about this.)
Commonly capitalized words that should be set lowercase
- seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer
- academic departments: history department, math department, environmental science department; English is uppercase only because it’s a proper noun
The e.e. cummings (oops! bell hooks) rules:
- trade names are set as is: iPhone, HarperCollins, LexisNexis
- pen names (such as bell hooks) are fine lowercase “in appropriate contexts” (Chicago 16, 8.4). Chicago gives library catalogs as an example where a name like bell hooks should be capitalized. I assume this means that if you are writing about bell hooks in a literary paper, you should set her name lowercase. And if you’ve never read bell hooks, do. Then, Chicago says the following: “E. E. Cummings can be safely capitalized; it was one of his publishers, not he himself, who lowercased his name.”
- If you find yourself beginning a sentence with a lowercase word (or variable), just rewrite the sentence.
Clear? Confusing? Follow-up questions? What’s your favorite Cummings poem?