Capitalizing Titles

At Hancock International College our ESL students can prepare for university in which case APA formatting is especially important for their essays and research papers. Capitalizing titles can be particularly difficult for international students many of whom do not have the concept of capitalizing at all. Jean Little breaks it down in an article titled “HOW TO CORRECTLY USE AP (AND APA) STYLE TITLE CASE”.

Little says, “Capitalize the Principal Words

The principal words of a title include the first and last words of that title, which you should always capitalize. You should also capitalize all verbs (including infinitives), nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and some conjunctions. Finally, capitalize every word that is more than three letters long.


– Creating the Perfect Centerpiece for Your Party

– Increase Curb Appeal With New Shutters

– How To Look For a Paid Internship

In the last example, note that the entire verb phrase “to look for” is capitalized.

What Not To Capitalize

Don’t capitalize articles, prepositions or conjunctions that have fewer than four letters. That leaves a pretty short list of words that often aren’t capitalized*:

a, for, so, an, in, the, and, nor, to, at,of, up, but, on, yet, by; or”

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Idiom of the Day

The straight and narrow

Meaning: living morally straight (not crooked!) so that one is always doing good/moral things

Example: Owen has been pretty straight in narrow since college. He must have matured.