Easy Capitalization Guide: Should You Capitalize Articles?

The English language is replete with all sorts of writing,…

The English language is replete with all sorts of writing, grammar, and communication rules to follow. These rules should guide you when capitalizing titles. This guide focuses on the articles capitalized in titles and whether they are written correctly. Let’s start with a few basic concepts.

closeup photography of person holding black fountain pen writing ink text on white paper
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What are Articles?

Articles are words that indicate whether a noun is specific or general. They can suggest whether a noun is common or unique. There are two types of articles:

The Definite Article

A definite article refers to something specific. It can be used with singular, plural, or uncountable nouns.

For example:

“The man in the mirror.” – referring to the specific man you see in the mirror.

“The Sun and Moon.” – referring to the Sun and Moon as specific and unique objects.

In both examples, the article refers to a specific or unique noun.

The Indefinite Article

On the other hand, indefinite articles come in the forms of “a” and “an.” The forms depend on whether the next word starts with a consonant (Use “a“) or vowel (Use “an“). They refer to a noun as a general idea instead of as a particular thing.

For example:

A baby is one of life’s most precious gifts.”

“Justin gave me an orange yesterday.”

In both examples, the article refers to the object as a general idea, and not as a specific thing.

Are Articles Capitalized in Titles?

The short answer is that all articles must be in the lowercase unless they are the first or last word. As mentioned earlier, capitalization of a word or phrase can indicate its importance. The capitalization of words largely depends on the specific rules set by the guide you are following.

Some major style guides are:

  • The AP stylebook
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • AMA Manual of Style

The following section focuses on the rules for AP and Chicago styles as they are the most common style guides.

Simple Capitalization Rules

Rules can be difficult to follow when they’re confusing. We’ve taken the liberty of organizing these title capitalization rules into two general categories. This will help you easily determine the right title case to use.

Always capitalize major words such as:

  • Nouns
  • Pronouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs

Watch out for these words:

Articles

All major style guides agree that articles must be in the lowercase unless they are the first word or last word. This rule will be better explained in the examples below:

Incorrect: J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Desolation of Smaug.

Correct: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Desolation of Smaug.

Always capitalize the first word of a title. “The” is the first word of the title, therefore it must be capitalized.

Incorrect: To Kill A Mockingbird.

Correct: To Kill a Mockingbird.

The article “a” is not capitalized because it is neither the first word nor last word. All articles must be in lowercase unless they are the first or last word of the title.

Conjunctions

For the AP style, conjunctions with 3 letters or fewer should be lowercase.

Chicago’s style requires that all conjunctions be written in the lowercase except: yet, so, and if.

For example:

Incorrect: Our teacher asked us to read Romeo And Juliet over the weekend.

Correct: Our teacher asked us to read Romeo and Juliet over the weekend.

Prepositions

For the AP style, prepositions with more than four letters should be capitalized.

The Chicago style recommends all prepositions must be in lowercase except when used as an adjective or adverb.

The Bottom Line

Articles capitalized in titles are only correct if they are the first or last word. Otherwise, they should all be written in the lowercase. Make sure to check out the other capitalization pointers included in this easy guide. Good luck!

Easy Capitalization Guide: Should You Capitalize Articles?

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

Why Are Headings Used in Articles?

As a writer, you should master everything about writing content. Your understanding of the profession reflects on the quality of…

October 4, 2022

How to Create a Good Title With Title Examples

Whether you’re writing a blog or a feature article, you NEED a good title. With a good title, you can…

October 4, 2022

Interesting Thesis Title Examples for Research Papers

Writing a research paper can be daunting. What’s even more challenging is picking a suitable topic. Even after brainstorming, you…

October 4, 2022

Best Tips for Writing a Great Blog

Anyone who has read a blog post has taken in information from a thought leader who is a pro in…

October 4, 2022

What Are Listicles? How to Start Them?

List posts, also known as lists, have a bad reputation in the online world, where the value of your blog’s…

October 4, 2022

How to Come up With Name Ideas for a Tech Blog

Do you want to build a successful tech blog? Are you looking for great tech blog name ideas to come…

October 4, 2022