I would need a list of all words that are not capitalized in English titles.

I would also like to make sure if it's true, that all first and last words of a title are capitalized no matter what.

I'd really appreciate your help.


3 Answers 3


If you are referring to "title case," where some words are capitalized and some aren't, there is no one standard rule.

The AP stylebook says:

  • Capitalize the principal words, including prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters.
  • Capitalize an article – the, a, an – or words of fewer than four letters if it is the first or last word in a title.

But the Chicago Manual of Style says:

Use lowercase for articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions, regardless of length, unless they are the first or last word of the title.

Wikipedia has a list of different ways title case can be applied. I tend to follow the second version in that list.

title case variations

Note that some people prefer using "sentence case" in titles, where you only capitalize words as you would in a normal sentence. This is also known as "Down style." Apparently this is more typical in the UK than the USA, but opinions vary (as you might expect) on which is the correct form, or if there is even one.

  • I try to use the Chicago Manual of Style version (Univ. of Chicago, version 2, above). But sometimes I struggle to remember on certain words. Interesting is, "Down style" (i.e., sentence case) is what was adopted by the American Library Association (ALA) many decades ago. Whether we're talking about online library catalogs, or the old archaic index card paper catalogs, ALA capitalizes first word and proper nouns only. Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 23:43
  • Using Title Case or normal sentence case is an option depending on the typography. If headers are bold, larger, use a headline fint, and whatnot, then you don’t need titlecase too and the extra caps may look too weighty.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 3:10

It is also often up to the authors/editors discretion, for example if your title was fairly long (such as an essay) it might look very strange if a couple of words are lowercase. Also, of course, it should be consistent throughout, a lot of people seem to forget that!


The first letter of the first word is always capitalized (no ifs, ands, or buts... unless you lead with if, and, but as the first word of your title.)

In Grammar you have two categories of words: Content Words and Function Words. Content words are words with a very specific meaning or meanings and include Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, and Adverbs. All Content Words in a title must be capitalized.

Function Words are words with nebulousness meaning or meaning that will change meaning based on usage with respect to other words in a sentance of statement. Not all function words should be lower case, but most are acceptable. Pronouns usually are capitalized, especially when they are the subject of the title sentence or are possessives (pronouns that denote ownership). As are interjections (Yeehaw! Gosh Darn! Drat!).

From there, each significant word in the title is capitalized, while the articles (a, an, the) conjunctions (and, or, but, nor), subordinate conjunctions (if, either, neither, nor, then, else, ect.) and occasionally adpostitions (words that reflect spacial or temporal relations with respect to other words, like before, in, on, above, below). While not a rule, Subordinates and Adpositions that exceed three letter spelling should be capitalized).

Finally, as a rule, when ordering books alphabetically by title, the word "The" is omitted if it is the first word in the title, and the Content word is used instead. If the book is a volume in a series, then it is ordered by release date under the serie's main title ("Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is the first book and will come before "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" despite "Chamber" taking alphabetical precedence to "Philosopher").

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.