Sentence and title cases are the main capitalization styles used in published work. However, they are different – title case involves capitalizing major words, while sentence case requires you to capitalize only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns.
If you want to learn more about sentence case vs. title case, including how and when to use these capitalization styles and title capitalization rules, keep reading!
What Is Title Case?
Title case refers to a capitalization style used in published works and art titles, such as books, songs, movies, and plays. The title case is also referred to as a headline case.
In the title case, you must capitalize all major or principal words and lowercase minor words like short prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions. However, a few variations may occur.
For instance, you may capitalize minor words if they appear at the beginning as the first word or the end of the title as the last word. You can sometimes capitalize the coordinating conjunctions depending on their grammatical function.
When to Use Title Case?
You can use title case for the following:
- Titles of books, articles, reports, and other works when they appear in a text
- The headings within a piece of work (Levels 1-2)
- The title of your paper and the named sections and subsections within it (for instance, the Result section or the Discussion section)
- Newspapers, magazines, journals, and other titles of periodicals (usually italicized)
- Titles of tables and figures (usually italicized)
- Titles of measures or tests, including the subscales
How Do You Write Title Case?
Before delving into how to write a sentence in title case, it is crucial to understand that the title case does not adhere to a standard set of rules but may vary depending on the style guide.
In the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style), you should apply the following rules of title capitalization: Capitalize all major words.
- Capitalize conjunctions and prepositions with four letters or more
- Make the first letter of the first and last words capital, regardless of whether the word is major or minor
- Lowercase articles a, an, and the.
- Capitalize the word ‘to’ in infinitives
When writing using the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA Style) 7th Edition, you should apply the following rules:
- You should capitalize the major words in the title, and the second part of a major hyphenated word (for instance, Self-Assessment)
- Write second words in compound modifiers in lowercase (for instance, Mid-week)
- Capitalize the first words of the title (heading) and subtitles (subheading)
- Capitalize all words with four letters or more
The Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook 9th Edition requires you to follow the following rules of title capitalization:
- Make the first word of the heading/ subheading and title/subtitle capitalized
- Capitalize all major words in the title, as well as the second part of a major hyphenated word
- Lowercase articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions
- Write the second word in a compound modifier in lowercase (for instance, Super-hero, Mid-week)
- Lowercase ‘to’ in infinitives
Chicago Manual of Style
If you are writing using the 15th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, you should apply the following rules of title capitalization:
- Capitalize all major words
- Lowercase articles and conjunctions
- Lowercase prepositions, except when stressed, are used as conjunctions, adverbs, or adjectives.
- Lowercase ‘to’ and ‘as.’
- Make the second part of the names of Latin species lowercase, even if it is the title’s last word.
- Write the second word in a compound modifier in lowercase (for instance, Super-hero, Mid-week, and Ex-wife)
- Make the first and the last words of titles, heading, subtitles and subheadings capitalized, regardless of the word type.
Examples of Title Case
- The Last Emperor of the Romans
- An Insight Into the Life of a Middle-Aged American
- Journal of the Medical Association of America
- Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
What Is Sentece Case?
Sentence case involves capitalizing the first word and the proper nouns while lowercasing other words within the sentence. Sentence case capitalization is common in professional and academic sectors where the APA writing style is required.
When to Use Sentence Case?
You can use the sentence case in writing the following:
- The titles of books, articles, reports, and other works are provided in a reference list entry, even when the original work used the title case
- The title or heading of academic reports, thesis, or dissertations
- The headings of table columns, including the entries and notes
- Figure notes
- The headings of a piece of work (Heading levels 3, 4, and 5)
How Do You Write Sentece Case?
In sentence case, you will have to write a sentence following the rules below:
- Make the first word of the title, heading, subtitle, and subheading capitalized
- The first word after an em dash, colon, or end punctuation in the heading is capitalized.
- Capitalize the pronouns
- Lowercase other words in the sentence
Examples of Sentece Case
Below are examples of titles written using sentence case capitalization:
I. Examples of sentence case in titles of published work in the reference list:
Graff, G., & Birkenstein, C. (2018). They say/I say: The moves that matter in academic writing (4th ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.
In the above example, the heading of the published word is, “They say/I say: The moves that matter in academic writing.”
Scott, T. N., Gil-Rivas, V., & Cachelin, F. M. (2019). The need for cultural adaptations to health interventions for African American women: A qualitative analysis. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 25(3), 331–341. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000228
In the above example, the heading of the work is “The need for cultural adaptations to health interventions for African American women: A qualitative analysis.”
II. Examples of sentence case in titles of academic reports and dissertations:
- Effects of urbanization in India.
- Analyzation of the extreme demerits of global warming in Europe.
Sentence Case vs. Title Case: What Is the Difference?
Now that you have a clear insight into both sentence case and title, it is easier to spot differences when reviewing sentence case vs. title case. In the title case, you have to capitalize all major words. On the other hand, the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
The title case mostly appears when writing the title of a published work in a text, while the sentence case appears when writing a title in the reference list.
In addition, the title case involves capitalizing major words, while the sentence case requires capitalizing the first word and proper nouns only.
If you are having a hard time differentiating sentence case and title case, using a sentence case and title case converter can come in handy.