Title Capitalization

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How to Capitalize Titles in MLA Style

In a title or a subtitle, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words, including those that follow hyphens in compound terms. Therefore, capitalize the following parts of speech:

  • Nouns (e.g., flowers and Europe, as in The Flowers of Europe)
  • Pronouns (e.g., our, as in Save Our Children; that, as in The Mouse That Roared)
  • Verbs (e.g., watches, as in America Watches Television; is, as in What Is Literature?)
  • Adjectives (e.g., ugly, as in The Ugly Duckling; that, as in Who Said That Phrase?)
  • Adverbs (e.g., slightly, as in Only Slightly Corrupt; down, as in Go Down, Moses)
  • Subordinating conjunctions (e.g., after, although, as if, as soon as, because, before, if, that, unless, until, when, where, while, as in One If by Land and Anywhere That Chance Leads)

Do not capitalize the following parts of speech when they fall in the middle of a title:

  • Articles (a, an, the, as in Under the Bamboo Tree)
  • Prepositions (e.g., against, between, in, of, to, as in The Merchant of Venice and A Dialogue between the Soul and Body)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet, as in Romeo and Juliet)
  • The to in infinitives (as in How to Play Chess)

The following examples illustrate how to capitalize and punctuate a variety of titles:

Death of a Salesman
The Teaching of Spanish in English-Speaking Countries
Storytelling and Mythmaking: Images from Film and Literature
Life As I Find It
The Artist as Critic
What Are You Doing in My Universe?
Whose Music? A Sociology of Musical Language
The Importance of Being Earnest
It’s a Wonderful Life

From: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: Modern Language Assoc. of America, 2004. (page 103)


See Wikipedia (in French)

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