Rules for Capitalizing the Titles Seem Confusing and/or Stupid to Me

I am often confused about how to capitalize titles.

I understand the AP Style rules for when to italicize titles or put them in quotes, but the actual guidelines for which words to capitalize have always confused me.

I should point out that I am not talking about headlines, but the title of books, songs, speeches, and anything else that needs a full title, such as “The Nick Claussen Unmatched Sock Collection,” (there’s no match for it!).

I did a little research on title capitalization, and here are some basic rules that I found:

Always capitalize

  • The first word in a title
  • The last word in a title
  • The important words in a title (although I am not always sure how to judge that)
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Verbs
  • Every word that has more than three letters (another website said every word with five or more letters)

Words that you don’t capitalize include:

  • Articles such as a, an and the
  • Coordinating conjunctions including and, but and for
  • Prepositions that are short such as at, by and from (although one website said that from should be capitalized due to it having four letters)

One website said that many writers make the mistake of not capitalizing words such as is, are, was and to be, but they should be capitalized because they are verbs.

Another said to never capitalize to, and if you are using to be, you would only capitalize be.

So basically, we are supposed to capitalize nearly every word in a title except for very short words such as a, of, to, for, and and, and even then it’s still confusing.

To me, the rules seem random and are just singling out words because they are short and are deemed as not important.

Why not just capitalize every word in a title? Wouldn’t that make more sense than this belittling of little words? Wouldn’t it be much easier, too?

Or why not just capitalize the first word in a title, as if each title were a newspaper headline (except for capitalizing additional words that are capitalized in normal sentences)? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

I hate capitalizing every word in a title except for one or two words because of these somewhat subjective rules. I always think the non-capitalized words look odd, and I feel a little bad for them that they are considered not worthy of a capital letter.

I suppose it works fine in a wonderful title such as this:

  • “Nick Saves the Day!”

But what about titles like these?

  • “Words for All to Love and to Hate”

or

  • “The Rules of the Titles for the Blog”

or

  • “Dogs in and for the Woods”

Incidentally I would read a book about dogs in the woods who are also in support of the woods. I support their literal and emotional positions.

Basically, I don’t see how following the rules make titles look important or fancy, and I think the rules should be changed so that they make more sense.

So what have we learned today?

  • Capitalization rules are confusing.
  • Is is apparently more important than the.
  • From is more important than for simply because from has one more letter.
  • I am mainly complaining because I can’t quite figure out the rules.
  • I enjoy complaining.
  • Writing a book is going to be tougher than I thought. How will I come up with a catchy and grammatically correct title?

I hope that this problem can be fixed soon, or I will have to only use big words in the titles for my upcoming plays, books and sock collections.

Are you also confused by the rules for capitalizing titles? Do you have any good examples of titles? What is the name of your sock collection? Feel free to comment below. Thanks!

12 thoughts on “Rules for Capitalizing the Titles Seem Confusing and/or Stupid to Me

  1. Are we not supposed to capitalize ‘a’ even if it’s in the beginning of a title?
    For example: a Song of Ice and Socks, or A Song of Ice and Socks?

    Luckily, we don’t have these confusing rules in Greek. We capitalize only the first letter of the first word — and names, of course. You could follow our lead or just capitalize everything and get it over with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your plan seems to follow most of the rules that I found. They are confusing, though. I think just making it up as you go is ok. The most important rule is to that you need a name for your sock pile. Thanks!

      Like

  2. Depends on the time of day and how much I’m trying to divert your attention, sometimes I JUST CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING for the hell of it. I just saw it used a somewhere, there was NO COLLUSION.

    Liked by 1 person

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