Is An Capitalized in a Title?

There are a lot of nuances regarding title capitalization, so you could be curious, is an capitalized in a title?

If you take a look at titles of books, you may see that certain words are capitalized in the title that are not usually capitalized in a sentence. That is because the English language has separate rules for sentence case and title case.

There are certain situations where you need to capitalize words and titles, heading, and subheadings. You may need to capitalize the first letter of some words that you might not usually capitalize; however, is an capitalized in the title?

An is usually not capitalized in the title because it is considered a minor word; however, you might need to capitalize “an” if it is the first word of a title, header, or subheader, and you are following APA Style (American Psychological Association) or MLA Style. Learn more about the nuances of title case below.

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Understanding When To Capitalize Minor Words And Major Words

When you are trying to follow AP Style (The Associated Press) for title case capitalization, the first thing you should do is break down your words into major words and minor words. In general, minor words are lowercase in the title case based on the MLA handbook

A few important points to keep in mind include: 

  • If a word is longer than four letters, then it should always be capitalized when following title case. This includes titles, headers, and subheaders.
  • Short words that are three letters long or less and should not be capitalized in title case.
  • Common examples of minor words include articles, short prepositions, coordinating conjunctions on and subordinating conjunctions.
  • Common parts of speech that are major words include nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, and adjectives. This includes linking words.

Once you understand the differences between these two groups, you can figure out which words need to be capitalized in title case; however, there are certain situations where you may need to capitalize minor words as well. 

When Should You Capitalize A Minor Word?

Even though you usually do not capitalize minor words, there are situations where you should capitalize them. These include: 

  • You always need to capitalize the first word of a title, heading, or subheading regardless of the category it falls into.
  • You always need to capitalize the last word of a title, heading, or subheading regardless of the category it falls into.
  • If the word follows a colon or em dash, then it needs to be capitalized no matter what.
  • If the word follows end punctuation such as periods, exclamation marks, or question marks, then it needs to be capitalized in title case just as it would in sentence case.
  • If the term is a hyphenated compound, then both words in the term need to be capitalized even if they are minor words.

These are the most common situations where a minor word needs to be capitalized. 

Do You Need To Capitalize An?

Articles are considered minor words. Therefore, they do not need to be capitalized. Because “an” is an article, it does not need to be capitalized in title case either; however, if it falls into one of the situations above, then it does need to be capitalized. 

For example, if “an” is the first word in a title, heading, or subheading, that needs to be capitalized as below: 

  • An Essay on the Greatest Superhero

If this is the title of the essay, then “an” needs to be capitalized because it is the first word in the title.

Furthermore, if “an” is the first word following a hyphen, then it would need to be capitalized as well. The title might be:

  • Iron Man – An Amazing Superhero

Here, “an” needs to be capitalized as well. It is important to think carefully about where the words fall in the title or header so you can capitalize them accordingly.

Are There Tools That Can Help With Title Case?

If you are looking for help with title case, then you might want to take a look at a few automated programs. For example, Grammarly is one of the best tools available. This is something that can help you make sure you are capitalizing the right terms throughout your work including headers, subheaders, and titles. 

You may also want to take advantage of SEO tools that can help you figure out how to format your headings. That way, you can make sure you are using the right words in the right spots in your headings to help you improve your search results rankings.

Final Word on Is An Capitalized in a Title

In the end, major words are capitalized in titles, the minor words or not. Minor words include conjunctions, articles, and short prepositions. Because “an” is an article, it is usually not capitalized in title case. At the same time, there are a few situations where “an” needs to be capitalized.

For example, if “an” is the first word of a title, that needs to be capitalized. Or, if “an” is the last word in a header or title, then it needs to be capitalized as well. If you have questions or concerns about when you should capitalize words in titles, you may want to use a grammar checking tool that can help you.

FAQs Is An Capitalized in a Title

What are the different stylistic organizations that determine the rules of title case?

There are numerous style guides that have their own capitalization rules regarding title case, but most of them are similar. Two of the most common examples include APA style and MLA format. The Chicago Manual of Style also has guidelines regarding title case.

How long does a word have to be before it is capitalized in title case?

In general, words that are longer than four letters are always going to be capitalized in title case. If a word is a major word, it is capitalized no matter how long it is.

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