If you are curious about capitalization rules and capitalization styles, you might be curious about sentence case vs title case. Take a look below!
If you want to make a good impression on your reader, then you need to use proper English grammar. You might not have thought that these rules would matter after high school, but whether you are writing an essay, blog post, or research article, professionalism matters. So, when should you use sentence case vs title case?
Use title case for titles, subtitles, headers, and subheaders. If you are not writing a title, subtitle, heading, or subheading, then you should use sentence case. There are different rules for title case and sentence case you should follow.
What are the differences between title case and sentence case, and when should you use which format? Take a look below?
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Rules for Title Case
Regardless of the style guide you follow, the rules for title case should be the same. You might be following an MLA style guide, AP style (the Associated Press), APA style (the American Psychological Association), the New York Times Style Guide, or even the Chicago Manual of Style. Even when following the 6th edition of any of these, you should follow rules for major and minor words.
You should capitalize major words including nouns, pronouns, proper nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. You should not capitalize minor words including short prepositions, subordinating conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions, and articles.
With that said, a few other title case rules include:
- Always capitalize the first word of the title and the last word of the title. This includes short minor words that might be the first word of a title.
- Capitalize all words following end punctuation.
- Capitalize all words longer than three letters.
- Capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound.
If you follow these rules, use title case.
Want to learn more? Read our article about style guide templates. It’ll help you pick the right one.
We also explain how to write a style guide for a business.
Rules for Sentence Case
Sentence case is what you use the majority of the time. This is typically what your grammar checker highlights when you write. A few quick rules about capital letters and lowercase letters in sentence case include:
- Always capitalize the first word of a sentence.
- Always capitalize proper nouns.
- Use lowercase letters the rest of the time.
Sentence case has become second-nature to most people; however, it can be difficult to switch between sentence case and title case. If you don’t know when to apply which set of rules, you might have a hard time following the right set of rules.
When To Use Title Case vs Sentence Case
You should know when to use sentence case and title case. There are several situations where you should use title case. These include:
- Always use title case in the title of your work. This could include the titles of books, articles, blog posts, and essays.
- You should use title case in any subtitles you have as well.
- You need to use title case in your headings and subheadings as well. If you write online, you should use title case for H1 and H2 headings, but you should use sentence case for H3 headings and below.
If you are not writing in one of the situations above, then you should use a sentence case. The instant you move from your headings and titles to the body of your work, you need to move to sentence case. This means following a different set of rules.
Final Word on Sentence Case vs Title Case
It can be difficult to move between sentence case and title case, but as long as you know when to apply which set of rules, you should get your grammar correct. You need to follow title case in your titles, subtitles, and headers, but you need to use sentence case everywhere else.
If you are having a hard time deciding which set of rules to follow, you may want to use an automated grammar checker. If you watch a title case converter go to work, you will learn when you should follow which set of rules. Then, this will be second nature to you.
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FAQs About Sentence Case Vs Title Case
What words do I need to capitalize when I follow title case?
You need to capitalize the first letter of major words in titles. This includes nouns, pronouns, proper nouns, adverbs, verbs, and adjectives. You also need to capitalize all words longer than three letters as well as the first word of a title and the last word of a title.
What headings should I use title case for instead of sentence case?
You need to use title case for headings H1 and H2. You should use sentence case for headings H3 and below.