Lesson 3

Unimportant words in titles

Do NOT capitalize

  • the articles a, an, the,
  • prepositions of four letters or fewer, and
  • coordinate conjunctions (and, but, or),

unless one of these is used as the first word in the title. This rule applies to titles of books, booklets, stories, poems, songs, articles, musical works, plays, and movies.

Books, poems, short stories, and songs

Capitalize the first word, the last word, and all other important words in titles of books, poems, short stories and songs.

  • Book: Modern English in Action
  • Poem: Dreams
  • Short story: The Cop and the Anthem
  • Song: Bridge over Troubled Water

Magazines and newspapers

Unlike the other titles, you do not capitalize the word the, which usually is the first word in the title of a newspaper and sometimes of a magazine. However, like the other titles, you capitalize all the other important words.

  • Newspaper: the Toronto Star
  • Magazine: the Reader's Digest


Capitalize the names of nationalities.

  • Chinese
  • American
  • Italian

Indigenous peoples

Capitalize the names of indigenous peoples.

  • M├ętis
  • First Nations
  • Inuit


Religions and their followers

Capitalize the names of the different religions in the world and their followers.

  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Christian
  • Hindu

Holy men in sacred writings

Capitalize the names of holy men in sacred writings.

  • God
  • Jesus
  • Mohammed

Sacred writings and documents

Capitalize the names of sacred writings and documents.

  • the Bible
  • the Koran
  • the Dead Sea Scrolls

Reference to God and gods

Capitalize a noun or pronoun that refers to God.

God gave His only begotten Son to the world.

Do not capitalize gods when referring to pagan deities, but capitalize the names of the deities themselves.

In Greek mythology, Zeus was the king of the gods that lived on Mount Olympus.
The Greek goddess of wisdom was Athena.


Capitalize all religious denominations.

  • United Church
  • Roman Catholic
  • Pentecostal


Capitalize the names of individual churches.

  • St. Paul's Cathedral (in Rome)
  • Hagia Sophia (in Constantinople)
  • Timothy Eaton Memorial Church (in Toronto)

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