Upper or Lower? That Is the Question
- On March 5, 2014
“The One that Started it All”
So starts the dessert menu at a popular restaurant. What’s with the capitalization? Why are that and it down and the other words up?
You may not be writing headlines for signature sweets, but you are for presentations, websites, press releases, and invitations. Copy that randomly switches between uppercase and lowercase is hard to digest. It’s like watching a team of presenters on speed dial. Each person stands for 15 seconds, then sits while another rises. That’s a lot of bobbing up and down. That’s distracting.
Here are guidelines for keeping your copy—and reader—on an even keel.
For headlines, choose between sentence case or title case.
In sentence case, the first word gets capitalized—and all proper nouns (Nancy, New York, The Cheesecake Factory, for example). Here, the menu item would read, “The one that started it all.”
In title case, capitalize the first and last words as well as verbs (even itty-bitty ones like is), adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and pronouns (including two-letter ones like it).
Style guides differ on how to treat articles (a, an, the), prepositions (for, about, around, with, and so on), and conjunctions (and, but, because, that, etc.). Many I consult advise capitalizing all words of four or more letters, which would make it “The One That Started It All.”
The key is to choose a format and stick with it.