Capitalizing 'of' in Titles: A Guide

Do You Capitalize ‘of’ in a Title? Unraveling the Mystery with The Grammar Guide

No Comments

Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

When it comes to the world of grammar, there’s an ongoing debate: Should ‘of’ be capitalized in a title? As a firm believer in clear and effective communication, I’ve delved into this topic to bring you an unequivocal answer. Spoiler alert: It all depends on the style guide you’re using.

In some cases, ‘of’ isn’t given the spotlight—it remains lowercase. Yet in other situations, it stands tall among its fellow words with a capital letter. Trust me, it’s not as confusing as it might seem. Let’s unravel this grammatical knot together.

I’ll guide you through the maze of different conventions and explain why each one exists. By the end of this article, you’ll have gained comprehensive knowledge that’ll empower your writing journey ahead. So buckle up—it’s time to dive deep into the captivating realm of titles and capitalization!
Diving into the world of title case capitalization, it’s crucial to understand its rules and peculiarities. What is ‘title case’? It’s a style of capitalization where the first and last words in a title are capitalized, as well as any important words in between. Sounds simple enough, you might think, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

A common question I encounter is whether we should capitalize the word ‘of’ in a title. So let’s talk about that. Typically, prepositions such as ‘of’, are not capitalized in a title unless they are used first or last. Therefore, if ‘of’ falls anywhere else within your title – it will generally remain lowercase.

But wait! There’s an exception to this rule: when ‘of’ is part of a verb phrase like ‘rid of’, then it gets capitalized. For instance, instead of writing “Getting rid Of Clutter” (where ‘Of’ comes right after a verb), you’d write “Getting Rid Of Clutter”. The capitalization helps readers identify the verb phrase.

Let me illustrate this with some examples:

  • Correct: Pride and Prejudice
  • Incorrect: Pride And Prejudice

Here’s another example using ‘of’:

  • Correct: War of The Worlds
  • Incorrect: War Of The Worlds

Remember these guidelines next time you’re composing a headline or working on academic papers. Understanding how to properly use title case can elevate your writing and help convey your message effectively.

The Role of ‘of’ in a Title: To Capitalize or Not?

When I’m asked about the role ‘of’ plays in a title, it’s not an easy question to answer. It might seem insignificant, but this tiny two-letter word can cause quite a headache for writers and editors alike. You see, titles follow their own set of rules when it comes to capitalization. In English language, we adhere to what’s known as ‘Title Case’.

Let’s dive into what Title Case means. Typically, you’d capitalize the first and last words of your title regardless of their part of speech. Major words such as nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are also capitalized. But here lies the twist – minor words like prepositions (of which ‘of’ is one), conjunctions and articles usually remain lower case unless they’re the first or last word.

As I mentioned earlier, ‘of’ is classified as a preposition – one of those minor words that generally don’t earn capitalization rights in titles according to most style guides including MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). So if you’re penning an article titled “The Power Of Love”, technically it should be written as “The Power of Love”. However, some styles like The New York Times choose to capitalize all words in their titles.

It’s worth noting though that these rules aren’t universally agreed upon. For instance, AP Stylebook recommends capitalizing all prepositions that are three letters or longer – so our friend ‘of’ would stay lowercase under this guideline too.

I’ve compiled some examples illustrating how the use of ‘of’ varies across different style guides:

Style Guide Example
MLA & APA The Perks OF Being A Wallflower
AP Stylebook The Perks OF Being A Wallflower
New York Times The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

In conclusion…

Just kidding! We won’t conclude just yet because remember – there’s always an exception to every rule! If ‘of’ happens to be part of a verb phrase within your title then it does get capitalized! An example would be “The Art Of Painting” where ‘Of Painting’ is considered a verb phrase thus ‘Of’ gets its moment in uppercase glory!

So next time you’re deliberating over whether or not to capitalize that pesky little word – ask yourself: What style guide am I following? Is this part of a verb phrase? As with any grammar rule – understanding why helps us apply them correctly!

Diving straight into the nitty-gritty, let’s explore the major style guides and their rules about capitalizing ‘of’ in a title.

First off, we have the Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook. According to this guide, ‘of’ should not be capitalized in titles unless it’s part of a proper noun or is the first word of the title or subtitle. An example would be “The Tale of Two Cities” where ‘of’ remains lowercase.

Next up is The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). It agrees with MLA and keeps prepositions like ‘of’, regardless of their length, in lowercase within titles. Take for instance “Gone With the Wind”, again, ‘with’ stays small.

Third on our list is The Associated Press Stylebook (AP). Here’s where things get interesting. AP advocates for capitalizing all words that are three letters long or more — yes, including ‘of’. So if you’re following AP guidelines your title might look something like this: “Song Of Ice And Fire”.

Lastly comes The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage which advises capitalizing all significant words including prepositions that are longer than four letters in headlines and titles which means ‘of’ would remain lowercase.

To sum it up:

Style Guide Does ‘Of’ Get Capitalized?
AP Yes

While these manuals provide useful guidance, remember that consistency within your own writing matters most. Pick a style manual to follow based on your audience’s preferences and stick to it throughout. In doing so, you’ll create clear and coherent texts that engage readers from start to finish!

Conclusion: Clearing the Confusion in Title Capitalization

Let’s clear up any lingering confusion about title capitalization, specifically concerning the word ‘of’. It’s not as complicated as it may seem at first glance. The key is understanding that ‘of’ falls into a category known as prepositions.

Generally speaking, you don’t capitalize prepositions in titles. That includes our friend ‘of’. So if I’m penning a novel called “The Power of Love”, the ‘o’ in ‘of’ should remain lowercase.

But wait, there’s an exception! In fact, there are two:

  • If your title style follows The Chicago Manual of Style guidelines (a popular choice), you’ll capitalize all prepositions that have more than four letters. Unfortunately for our buddy ‘of’, it only has two.
  • You also capitalize prepositions when they’re part of a verb phrase like “Take Off” or “Turn Of”.

To make this crystal clear, here’s a handy table to demonstrate:

Correct Usage Incorrect Usage
The Power of Love The Power Of Love
Take Off take off

I hope this clears up any uncertainty around whether to capitalize ‘of’ in a title. Remember these simple rules and you’ll nail title capitalization every time.

Finally, keep practicing and reading widely; it’s one surefire way to improve your language skills and grow comfortable with these sorts of grammatical intricacies. After all, practice makes perfect!

Leave a Comment