Headline Style

 

Capitalize the first letter of: the first word, the last word, all words more than three letters, all nouns and pronouns, and all verbs.

Incorrect:
What is the Response to it?

Correct:
What Is the Response to It?

“Is” is a verb! A lot of people forget this, and don’t cap the “i” since it’s just a two-letter word. “It” is not only a pronoun, but in the above example, it is also the last word in the headline.

Correct:
Where in Maine Is the Lake I Should Swim In?

Basically, don’t capitalize the first letter of the following words, unless they’re the first word or the last word of the headline: “a,” “an,” “and,” “at,” “but,” “by,” “for,” “in,” “nor,” “of,” “on,” “or,” “so,” “the,” “to,” “up,” and “yet.” And, by the way, some of those should never be the last word of a sentence.

My wife’s an editor, and she says you always cap “no” and “not” in a headline. Don’t ask me why; Happy wife, happy life.

Pedant says what? Oh, yes, my Maine example above does end in a preposition.

Correct:
It’s Not as Wrong as You May Think to End a Sentence With a Preposition Such as In

On the other hand, that headline’s way too long (to say nothing of the grief it will bring me in the comments about prepositions). For tips on how to write an effective headline, see this post from Claire.

In addition: don’t put a period at the end of your headline. It looks weird.

Incorrect:
Tomorrow the Sun Will Rise.

Correct:
Tomorrow the Sun Will Rise

You can put a period in a headline if it consists of multiple sentences. However, headlines with multiple sentences are tricky and sometimes a bad idea. Rather than:

A Giraffe Walks Into a Bar. A Duck Says, ‘He Should Have Ducked’

Consider:

A Giraffe Walks Into a Bar

You can incorporate the second sentence into your post.

One last thing: Don’t use all caps for emphasis in a headline.

 

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