I am a native German speaker who reads English articles on a daily basis. Whenever I write an English title myself, I struggle with the correct capitalization.

Let’s take the title of this post Associated Press Stylebook Title Capitalization. To my German eyes, this looks correct. It looks correct to me, because in German, nouns and names are always capitalized. Everything else such as prepositions, adjectives and verbs are lowercase.

A title with verbs and adjectives such as Associated Press Is Often Quoted in Local Newspapers looks a bit off. Is, Often, Quoted and Local should be lowercase according to German.

Even though I have formed some kind of intuition for this kind of capitalization by now, I have never bothered to research whether there is some kind of rule. I semi-consciously suspected click bait as the reason for using that many capitalized words in titles and headings.

However, according to the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2011 edition), the following rules for titles should be applied:

  • Capitalize the first and last words.
  • Capitalize the principal words.
  • Capitalize prepositions and conjunctions of four letters or more.
  • Lowercase the articles the, a, and an.

There we go. 4 simple rules that are easy to follow!