Capitalizing Titles

All of the major words in the title of a paper, book, article, specification, or other written work for business should be capitalized.

“Major” words to be capitalized in titles include:

• First word

• Last word

• All nouns and pronouns

• All verbs, including short ones (is, are, be)

• All adjectives and adverbs

• Subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that)

Do not capitalize the following in titles:

• Articles (a, an, the) other than the first word

• Prepositions with fewer than four letters (on, of, to, by)

• Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for)

If there’s a subtitle, use a colon ( : ) at the end of the main title, and use the same capitalization rules for the subtitle. Capitalize the first word after the colon – even if it is an article, conjunction, or preposition.


Deepwater Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico: The Moratorium’s Effect on Our Industry

The SPE Style Guide says to capitalize all words of four or more letters. It also recommends capitalizing the following short words: No, Nor, Off, Out, So, and Up, as well as those that are part of a verb phrase.

Examples: Held Up, To Inject, Can Be Produced

What about hyphenated words in a title? Do you capitalize the second word after the hyphen? The SPE Style Guide says to capitalize both parts of hyphenated adjectives.

Examples: Two-Phase, In-Situ, Full-Sized


One Response to “Capitalizing Titles”

  1. e e cummings « Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch Says:

    […] (For a refresher on capitalization rules for headlines and titles, visit: <😉 […]

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