This week’s Monday’s Mistake deals with a common error because we don’t seem to know how to properly capitalize the words in a title. As a result, I often see the word “is” lowercase when it should be capitalized because it’s verb…as just one example. Do you see the error in this title?

how to capitalize titles and headings

“The” should not be capitalized. If the writer had capitalized “to” as well, it would be okay because we’d have consistency with every word capitalized. Then it would look like:

How To Craft The Perfect Online Course Title

But mixing up the upper- and lowercases like this makes zero sense. And it’s so blatantly obvious in a headline, and then there’s the irony in that this is a title about titles!

Rules for capitalizing
We don’t usually capitalize every single word in a title because that makes them hard to scan. In general, titles, headings and subheadings can be capitalized in one of two ways. You can use sentence capitalization and only capitalize the first word as in this example:

This is a title written with sentence capitalization

Or you can use title capitalization, meaning you capitalize every noun, verb, adjective, adverb and pronoun plus words over a certain length (usually four or more letters), as in this example:

This Is a Title Written with Title Capitalization

That means we can fix our Monday’s Mistake one of two ways (if we opt not to capitalize every word, which I think we agree to, right?). We can capitalize the first word only:

How to craft the perfect online course title

But that doesn’t look very compelling, does it! Or we can use title capitalization as described above:

How to Craft the Perfect Online Course Title

Doing it that way, the words that matter stand out so a scanner gets the gist of the title: Craft Perfect Online Course Title.

Either way works, but we want the one that is most likely to engage our reader…and we want to avoid mistakes.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Sharon Ernst is a retired freelance copywriter now on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes.