SAIC Tip of the Day: Writing: What to Capitalize in a Headline

Writing Tip: What words do you capitalize in a headline?
28 Jan 2009

Headline capitalization can be tricky, but here are some basic rules to follow:
  • Capitalize the first and last word of a headline.

  • Capitalize all parts of speech (e.g., verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc.) except:

    • articles: a, an, the
    • short conjunctions: and, but, for, nor
    • prepositions that are three letters or less: on, in
The main exceptions are those short pesky prepositions that are used as conjunctions, adverbs or adjectives. Here are some examples:
  • Press the On Button to Start the Machine (adjective) or Speaker Rambles On at Conference (adverb) vs. Man Works at SAIC, Lives on Farm (preposition)

  • Kids Face Pressure to Join the In Crowd (adjective) or Vote Tally Is In — Minnesota Has New Governor (adverb) vs. Lion Escapes Zoo, Attacks Visitors in Zoo (preposition)
Find this definition and more in the SAIC House Style Guide.
Tip submitted by Bonnie Nicholls in San Diego, California.